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White Sox help returning Lafayette soldier surprise family in middle of the 3rd
Daniel LaCosse, deployed to Kuwait in 2020, surprised his family with an early return, thanks to CC classmates and White Sox. Plus: School quarantine rules loosen. And Lafayette's first traffic circle
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A BIG WHITE SOX WELCOME HOME, SGT. LACOSSE: Wow, what a return home from Kuwait for Army Sgt. 1st Class Daniel LaCosse, as seen on the video board in real time in the middle of the third inning of Wednesday night’s Chicago White Sox game.
As his son, Gavin, waved for the in-stadium camera during a “Hero of the Game” segment at the Sox-Pirates game, LaCosse made his way down to the front row of Section 135, surprising Aubrey, his wife, and daughter, Alyssa, seeing them for the first time since being deployed to Kuwait in November 2020.
“Nothing on the field will top this moment!” Scott Merkin, a Sox beat writer for MLB.com, tweeted, along with a video Sox fans saw as it happened.
“The real winning moment of the night,” the official White Sox post read. (And, yes, the Sox beat the Pirates, 6-3.)
The homecoming came together for LaCosse, a Lafayette resident who works at Hippensteel Funeral Home, through the White Sox and friends Patrick Kovich and Mike Riehle, classmates in the Central Catholic class of 2001.
Riehle said LaCosse wasn’t supposed to be home until the end of September. Riehle said the White Sox organization went all in with the surprise reunion and was in direct contact with LaCosse, a White Sox fan, throughout. The team got his family, including his parents, Ann and Ron LaCosse, to the game under the guise of a family tribute between innings. Riehle and Kovich were in charge of meeting LaCosse at the Indianapolis Airport on Tuesday and getting him to Chicago for Wednesday night’s game.
Riehle said they stayed in a conference room at the park until the middle of the third inning, when LaCosse was ushered to the section where his family was sitting, near the third base line.
“It was pretty surreal,” Riehle said. “Energy was electric when that happened with the crowd.”
White Sox video cameras were ready.
“It’s definitely going to be great to hold everyone in my arms,” LaCosse told a White Sox camera crew as he waited to greet his wife, his kids and his parents.
“The White Sox organization was super accommodating and went beyond and above,” Riehle said. “I’m a Cubs fan naturally. I’m a Riehle, it’s just in our blood. But I have nothing but respect to the White Sox staff and organization after what I witnessed this evening.”
This and that …
MASK UP, QUARANTINE DOWN, GOVERNOR SAYS: In an interesting move Wednesday, Gov. Eric Holcomb tacked on this provision to the next month of his pandemic-related executive order: K-12 schools and daycares won’t have to send students home to quarantine if they are a close contact with someone with COVID-19, provided they aren’t showing symptoms and the school has mask requirements that “are consistently followed through the day.”
The move stopped short of a full-blown mask mandate, similar to the one Holcomb had in place statewide during most of the 2020-21 academic year. Holcomb has said he backs school districts who institute mask requirements, but he has been reluctant to re-instate one of his own for the state.
The new order, extending through September, comes after schools across the state reported a record 5,529 new COVID-19 cases among student in updated numbers the Indiana State Department of Health released Monday. Nearly three-quarters of those came in the past week.
The governor’s order would directly affect Greater Lafayette’s three public school districts – Lafayette School Corp., Tippecanoe School Corp. and West Lafayette Community School Corp. – which have mask requirements inside classrooms and other school buildings. The three school boards have taken flak from critics who say they should have the right to choose whether their kids wear a mask.
That would leave Lafayette Catholic School System and Faith Christian, which have mask-optional policies, as the largest schools still bound by state quarantine guidelines that range from seven to 14 days for close contact with someone with COVID-19.
The TSC school board was pushed into a mask requirement, starting March 25, by its quarantine rate during the first eight days of classes. County health departments chalked up many of the 388 students out for quarantine in the first weeks of the semester – a rate that ran eight times as many as in LSC, despite having a similar rate of actual COVID-19 cases – to the difference in mask policies. (State quarantine guidelines widen the scope of contact tracing efforts from three-foot radius when masks are in use to a six-foot radius when they aren’t. That’s a difference between 28 square feet and 113 square feet.)
A TSC board that had voted 4-3 against a mask policy in early August voted 6-1 during an emergency meeting Aug. 30 to put masks back on students, teachers and staff. Several board members said they were only changing their vote because they couldn’t watch kids sent home for quarantine. Board members also asked TSC Superintendent Scott Hanback to look into ways to keep quarantines down.
Also on Wednesday afternoon, the Tippecanoe County Health Department released new COVID-19 cases and quarantine numbers for the schools. Among them:
Since the beginning of the school year through Aug. 27:
TSC: 136 cases, 1,341 quarantined (estimated enrollment: 13,800)
LSC: 43 cases, 107 quarantined (estimated enrollment: 8,000)
West Lafayette: 19 cases, 74 quarantined (estimated enrollment: 2,400)
Lafayette Catholic Schools: 6 cases, 11 quarantined
Faith Christian: 10 cases, 45 quarantined
From Aug. 28-31:
TSC: 34 cases, 284 quarantined
LSC: Fewer than 5 cases, 10 quarantined
West Lafayette: 8 cases, 63 quarantined
Lafayette Catholic Schools: Fewer than 5 cases, fewer than 5 quarantined
Faith Christian: Fewer than 5 cases, fewer than 5 quarantined
The Tippecanoe County Health Department, in a statement Wednesday, said it was too early to tell how much effect TSC’s changed mask policy had on the district’s quarantine figures.
The Holcomb’s order didn’t come with comment about the governor’s thinking on the rules.
A parent who led a petition drive this summer to get TSC to reconsider its initial mask-optional policy raised a series of questions for Holcomb after his order went out, starting with one about what public health experts were consulted in developing the new rules.
Jennifer Dobbs-Oates, a mother of two TSC students, said she was looking to know what medical evidence supported the efficacy of these new rules, how the state would know that mask requirements are followed in classrooms and how the new rules prevent spread from asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic cases.
Dobbs-Oates said Holcomb should be pressed on those questions.
NOT QUITE A ROUNDABOUT, COMING SOON TO HISTORIC JEFFERSON: Among the first ideas plucked from more than 100 pages of the Historic Jefferson Neighborhood Community Enhancement Plan was one city and neighborhood leaders hope will slow traffic. This week, the Lafayette board of works signed off on a contract to pay Dixon Construction Co. $11,950 to install a 15-foot traffic circle in the middle of the intersection at 10th and Brown streets. Not quite a roundabout – no curbs will need to be widened to make room for it and for traffic – the circle essentially will be a traffic-calming device, Jeromy Grenard, city engineer, said. “That was one of the first, big things that came out of the neighborhood study, cutting down on speed through that part of the neighborhood,” Dennis Carson, the city’s economic development director, said. Tenth Street is a straight shot between Ferry Street and Union Street, often used as a way to bypass Ninth Street traffic coming out of downtown Lafayette. The traffic circle will be the first of its kind for Lafayette, Grenard said. He called it a test, which could be duplicated down the street, at 10th and Elizabeth streets. Carson said the city also is working with the Historic Jefferson neighborhood to come up with landscaping and possibly an art piece for the traffic circle. Grenard said work should be done by the end of October.
HEADS UP, DRIVERS: In case you’re not the social media type, Lafayette was warning that the intersection of South Ninth and Kossuth streets will be closed for a portion of the next two months, starting Monday, for a drainage project. Yeah, I know, sounds like fun. But now you know.
Thanks to sponsor The Long Center for the Performing Arts for its help to make this edition possible. For details and tickets for a Sept. 25 show with Justin Willman, star of the hit Netflix series “Magic For Humans,” go to https://longpac.org/events/justin-willman
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