This and that: Try to keep up here …
A ‘protest vote’ against a Purdue barn. New smoking regs in WL. Purdue researchers could use a hand after East Palestine derailment. Tracking tornadoes. A fund for Rossville campers killed in storm
Sponsorship help for today’s edition comes from:
The Center for C-SPAN Scholarship & Engagement, which will host its spring Conversation with Brian Lamb on Wednesday, April 5. Brian Lamb, C-SPAN founder, will interview Edna Greene Medford, vice president of the Abraham Lincoln Institute and professor emeritus at Howard University. Medford will share from her upcoming book, “TRAIL: An African American Family’s Generational Pursuit of Justice and Equality in the Nineteenth Century,” which uncovers the struggles and triumphs of William Trail as he escaped enslavement in the South and navigated the judicial system to find freedom in Indiana. To sign up for seats in Purdue’s Fowler Hall, click the links below.
And special thanks to Purdue Student Concert Committee (SCC) for their support of Based in Lafayette. Sudan Archives has captivated audiences at festivals around the world with her hybrid violin/hip-hop sound. Fresh off her appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” SCC is excited to welcome Sudan Archives in support of her new album Natural Brown Prom Queen. This Wednesday, April 5, at Loeb Playhouse. Tickets available now.
A lot of ground to cover, so some bursts this morning …
ABOUT THAT PURDUE BARN: As promised last week, a reconstructed barn aimed for Purdue’s Discovery Park District served as a bit of a platform Monday night for some of the West Lafayette City Council’s gripes about Purdue’s planning for student housing, particularly the kind that graduate students can afford. (For more about the stakes and what’s happening on campus, see this from Friday’s edition: “‘Protest vote’ coming for Purdue's rebuilt barn, called a wake up call on housing.”)
City Council President Peter Bunder cast what he called a protest vote, saying it was one of his last shots in the development of the $1 billion-plus, work-live-play Discovery Park District to try to get the university’s attention about just how big Purdue is going to get and where the campus and city were going to put all of that record-upon-record enrollment. But in the end, the city council voted 7-1, with council member David Sanders abstaining, on a rezoning plan that clears the way for the 10,600-square-foot, reconstructed barn donated by Purdue Trustee Sonny Beck.
The barn – which will be situated in a portion of the current Squirrel Park near State Street and Airport Road – is expected to house a restaurant (yet to be named) and assorted community attractions, touted as an “activation project” for the district just west of the West Lafayette campus.
What didn’t come up Monday night: Sanders backed off a request that last week he planned to make, demanding to know how much of a tax deduction Beck received when he donated the barn and gave $100,000 to help disassemble and move it from Sheridan. When the moment came Monday night, Sanders said the question didn’t seem appropriate at the time.
NEW WEST SIDE SMOKING RESTRICTIONS BARELY PASS: There was plenty of skepticism, but ultimately enough city council votes, for a proposed West Lafayette ordinance that would increase the distance smokers would have to stay from public entrances from the eight-foot minimum called for in state code to 15 feet.
Council member David Sanders said he proposed the measure after fielding a complaint from someone at a car wash along Sagamore Parkway West about smokers standing too close to an entrance. Sanders said he didn’t anticipate the city going around with measuring sticks or doing much enforcement of the distance between smokers and doorways. Instead, he said it would give residents more confidence in asking smokers to move away from an entrance.
The proposed restrictions would not include Purdue’s campus, where smoking is prohibited, except in designated outdoor smoking areas.
The proposal passed on the first of two readings Monday on a 5-2 vote. Council members Gerald Thomas and Kathy Parker voted no. Council members Nick DeBoer and James Blanco abstained.
“I don’t want to make an ordinance just to make an ordinance,” Thomas said after the meeting. “I don’t think I’ve heard one complaint about this, ever.”
The proposal would need a second vote in May to be added to the city code.
TOWING RATE QUESTION PUT ON HOLD: A new chart of proposed towing rate maximums in West Lafayette – some of the first in two decades – will wait until May, as city council members asked for another month to study them.
FOR MORE ABOUT BASED IN LAFAYETTE AND TO SIGN UP FOR FREE OR FULL-RIDE SUBSCRIPTIONS, HERE’S YOUR LINK.
PURDUE RESEARCHERS PERSIST IN OHIO AFTER TRAIN DERAILMENT, SEEK FUNDING FOR VOLUNTEER TESTING: Work continues by a team of Purdue researchers to assess what was left in streams, the soil and the air after the Feb. 3 derailment of a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying hazardous materials in East Palestine, Ohio.
Funding, on the other hand, hasn’t continued in the volunteer effort.
After the Purdue team’s fourth visit to eastern Ohio to collect samples, researchers have set up a crowdfunding effort to keep the work going.
Andrew Whelton, a Purdue professor of civil engineering and environmental and ecological engineering, and other researchers from West Lafayette held a public question-and-answer session over the weekend to share results from their four trips so far East Palestine.
The team has raised questions about whether state, federal and Norfolk Southern investigations are coming up with proper results and whether they are looking for the correct chemicals as the cleanup continues and East Palestine residents are urged by state and federal officials to return to their homes. (This was just a taste of it from a March article here: “Purdue researchers warn Ohio train disaster testing insufficient.”)
“We have 100-plus samples in the lab and we're processing them to figure out what chemicals are in the water and soil,” Whelton said Monday. “This information is helping homeowners understand what they were exposed to and what remains in and around their properties. We're the only university group sharing results about this type of information so far. Our results have already influenced policy changes by officials in a good way. Financial support would help us to continue analyze the samples, conduct further testing and share results in support of the community.”
To help, here’s a link: crowdfunding.purdue.edu/project/36991
TORNADO TRACKER FROM FRIDAY: Indianapolis Star reporter Cheryl V. Jackson had a round up, along with maps, of tornadoes in Indiana Friday evening. As of Monday, the National Weather Service had reports of more than a dozen, including two in White County (near Badger Grove and Smithson) and one in Clinton County (just south of Colfax). Here’s a look: “Here's where tornadoes struck in Indiana.”
FUNDRAISER FOR ROSSVILLE COUPLE KILLED IN TORNADO AT STATE PARK: Friends have started a crowdfunding effort for Brett And Wendy Kincaid, a Rossville couple killed in Friday’s night’s tornado outbreak while camping at McCormick’s Creek State Park in southern Indiana. In a post on the GoFundMe.com site, Andrew Bean, of Rossville, wrote: “The Kincaids were generous in all aspects of their life, and many have asked how they can show the same generosity to the Kincaids' children and family in this time of loss.” The fundraiser says money donated will go to funeral expenses and costs to settle their estate. As of Monday afternoon, it had raised more than $18,000. For more information: www.gofundme.com/f/brett-and-wendy-kincaid.
OTTERBEIN COUPLE CHARGED IN INFANT’S DEATH: The Tippecanoe County prosecutor filed charges last week against a Kelsey Harrington, 29, and Joshua Perry, 31, an Otterbein couple accused of neglect of a dependent resulting in the death of their son, 4-month-old son, Silas, in July 2022. According to charges, the couple had been stopped days earlier outside a West Lafayette pharmacy, when a passerby called police about a crying baby left in a car during the summer heat. According to court documents, detectives used surveillance camera footage to show that the couple had left their home for several hours, coming home to find the baby dead of asphyxiation after being put to sleep on his stomach. For more about the case, here’s report from the Journal & Courier.
MAN ARRESTED AFTER FAKING TOWN MARSHAL’S ACCOUNT: WLFI reporter Joe Paul had an account of Zachary Bowers, 30, of Oxford, who made a fake Facebook account of an Oxford town marshal to send threatening messages and an unsolicited nude photo to his wife in an effort to get the marshal in trouble. Here’s the story: “Oxford man accused of faking town marshal's Facebook account.”
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