Trains roll again on downtown bridge, days after freight tumbled into Wabash
Plus, shooting shocks SIA plant. Debate comes together in House District 26. TSC hopes dashed for back-to-back teacher of the year winners.
Today’s edition of Based in Lafayette is sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Greater Lafayette. Empowering voters and defending democracy since 1920, the local league encourages you to register to vote or confirm your registration through the Vote411.org website. Upcoming: The League will sponsor a debate between Tippecanoe County Sheriff Bob Goldsmith, a Democrat, and Jason Huber, the Republican challenger, at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, at McCutcheon High School, 4951 Old U.S. 231 South. The one-hour debate will be carried live on WLFI. The event will be open to the public at McCutcheon.
So much to get to on a Tuesday morning …
SHOOTING AT SIA: Police were still sorting out details Monday evening after an afternoon shooting at the Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. plant on Indiana 38 that sent a woman to the hospital and had the shooter killing himself. J&C reporter Noe Padilla had this report from the scene. Craig Koven, an SIA spokesman, said the second and third shifts Monday, as well as the first shift Tuesday, had been canceled. Expect more details today.
TRAINS ROLL AGAIN ON DOWNTOWN BRIDGE, DAYS AFTER DERAILMENT: What caused four freight cars to derail and wind up in the Wabash River last Wednesday still hasn’t been explained publicly. But as of Monday, trains were moving on the bridge, built around 1910 between West Lafayette and downtown Lafayette, hauling slag from a steel mill – similar to what had been in the cars that spilled into the Wabash.
Norfolk Southern representatives did not immediately respond to questions about what it took to reset rails that had been twisted into the river and railroad ties that were squeezed together like an accordion after the Wednesday afternoon incident. But crews from Norfolk Southern, the company responsible for the tracks, were working on resetting things late last week. By Sunday, the tracks looked as if nothing had happened.
Late Monday afternoon, Bob Young – curator of Aerial Lafayette, a group you definitely should follow on Facebook – captured the scene as a freight train made it over the newly repaired section.
What sort of damage the rail bridge might have sustained hasn’t been revealed. The Federal Railroad Administration denied a records request last week for the latest rail inspections for the 110-year-old concrete and steel structure. On Monday, a Federal Railroad Administration spokesman said the federal agency hadn’t been involved with inspecting the repair work, either.
“Short answer is, the company does not need FRA approval to resume operations,” Warren Flatau, a Federal Railroad Administration spokesman, said Monday.
Flatau that according to bridge safety standards, qualified personnel must ensure all necessary repairs are made and are documented, and then a special inspection must be performed before service commences. He said that work is done by rail companies, with the Federal Railroad Administration auditing railroad bridge inspection programs.
Flatau said the federal agency likely would post an accident investigation report within six months.
HOUSE DISTRICT 26 DEBATE SET FOR OCT. 5: Things got a little chippy in August in the West Lafayette-based House District 26, when Democratic incumbent Chris Campbell and Republican challenger Fred Duttlinger couldn’t hash out rules for a debate initially scheduled to air live on WLFI-TV18. (To be fair, House District 26 wasn’t alone. Debates in three other contested General Assembly districts with pieces of Tippecanoe County – Senate District 23, Republican Spencer Deery and Democrat David Sanders; House District 27, Democratic incumbent Sheila Klinker and Republican James Hass; and House District 41, Republican Mark Genda and Democrat Greg Woods – hit some sort of snag or candidate reluctance and had to be nixed.)
Instead, Campbell and Duttlinger will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5, in a debate hosted by WBAA radio. The live debate will be moderated by WFYI reporter Emilie Syberg and myself. Listen that night on WBAA-105.9 FM, WBAA-920AM or wbaa.org.
OTHER DEBATES COMING UP: The League of Women Voters and WLFI-TV18 have two other debates in Greater Lafayette races.
Tippecanoe County sheriff: Sheriff Bob Goldsmith, a Democrat, and Republican Jason Huber, executive director of Tippecanoe County Community Corrections, will debate from 7-8 p.m. Sept. 29. The debate, carried live on WLFI, will be broadcast from the McCutcheon High School auditorium. The event will be open to the public.
Township trustees: Candidates for Wabash Township trustee – Democrat Angel Valentin and Republican Eric Hoppenjans – and Fairfield Township trustee – Democrat Monica Casanova and Republican April O’Brien – will debate from 5-6 p.m. Oct. 6 at the Lafayette Jefferson High School auditorium. Those debates will be broadcast on WLFI’s website. That event will be open to the public, as well.
PURDUE’S NEW APPROACH ON A SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: Homecoming weekend at Purdue brought the huge promise of a restructured Krannert School of Management into a School of Business, with plans to take some recent wins with new programs – “We feel we really hit some sweet spots,” Dean David Hummels said Monday – and aim to make the school the second largest on campus, only behind engineering. That’s saying something. I spoke with Hummels about the plans and the goals, which I’ll get to soon. (Without getting too deep into it, Monday had me spinning my wheels a bit in this one-man contraption. I’ll get better traction, yet, I swear.) University investments and fundraising goals remain a bit sketchy, but the enrollment and faculty growth goals are something. More coming soon.
INDIANA TEACHER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS, DOWN TO THREE: Tippecanoe School Corp. dreams of fielding back-to-back Indiana Teacher of the Year awards drifted away Monday, when the Indiana Department of Education trimmed its Top 10 finalist list to a Top 3. Amanda Beck, a German teacher at Harrison High School, was among the Top 10 and already had been laying odd on a second TSC teacher in as many years to win. (East Tipp Middle School engineering and technology teacher Sharita Ware won last year.) From our conversation a couple of weeks ago, Beck talked about it: “I asked if it was going to impact my odds. I was told that’s not part of the evaluation, but that it would be unusual. But it wouldn’t be impossible.” Monday’s release from IDOE had the list this way: Jason Beer, Homestead High School in Fort Wayne; Tara Cocanower, Bluffton High School; and Joshua DeBeard, Lebanon High School. Either way, if you want to read a conversation with a teacher energized about what she does, here’s your link to my Q&A with Frau Beck a few weeks ago.
THE RUMOR MILL AROUND DELPHI: Indiana State Police were trying to knock down growing online rumors about the ongoing investigation into the 2017 murders of Delphi eighth-graders Abby Williams and Libby German. From ISP’s Lafayette post over the weekend: “There has not been an arrest made in the Delphi investigation. The speculations are false.” Fox 59 reporter Joe Schroeder had more on the situation in this report: “State police say ‘nothing imminent.’”
ST. JAMES SCHOOL GYM FIRE: WLFI reporter Pari Apostolakos had a report on a weekend fire that will put St. James School gym, 615 N. Eighth St., out of commission for a while. No injuries, but water and smoke damage from the fire to cancel school Monday. Here’s the report.
FINALLY … DID YOU SEE THIS?: Whoa.
All those hours of plugging quarters into the Asteroids machine pay off …
Thanks, again, to the League of Women Voters of Greater Lafayette for sponsoring today’s edition. The local league encourages you to register to vote or confirm your registration through the Vote411.org website.
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