WL Public Library, ready for its $11M closeup
Plus, school board races set in Lafayette, Tippecanoe and West Lafayette districts. New general manager for CityBus. New chief for Purdue police. And firehouse fundraisers bring the eats today
Today’s edition is sponsored by the ongoing support of The Long Center for the Performing Arts, which is presenting country singer Justin Moore to Loeb Stadium Friday, Sept. 2. Just added as the opening act: Levi Riggs. For details and tickets, click here and scroll through today’s Based in Lafayette reporting project.
WEST LAFAYETTE PUBLIC LIBRARY’S BIG REVEAL TODAY
Nick Schenkel admitted to a few nerves – “A bit of panic, actually” – Friday, as the moment approached when he and others would get a chance to formally show $11 million in expansion and renovation to the West Lafayette Public Library.
“Then I start thinking,” Schenkel, library director since 1981, said, “everything is where it’s supposed to be. We’re finally at that point. I’m just excited for people to see it.”
The library will host a grand re-opening Saturday day afternoon, featuring tours of spaces added and reconfigured in a planning and construction project that started in 2018.
The work included more than 10,000 square feet of space built toward Northwestern Avenue, largely over an amphitheater space. Inside, more than 20,000 square feet of the library was renovated.
That includes a new children’s room, a teen room, updated archive space and a spot called the Creativity Lab, which offers supplies for hands-on projects.
As work started to wrap up in recent months, Schenkel said traffic in and out of the library has shifted a bit, with more people coming and going at the Northwestern Avenue entrances so it’s closer to an even split with the entrances at Columbia Street and Chauncey Avenue. (“Before,” he said, “the Northwestern side felt like a back entrance or something. This really opens us up and makes it clear that, yes, this is the way into the library.”)
Schenkel said the project met his expectations.
“And I hope it does that for everyone else, too,” he said. “It accomplished our focus groups and our staff said they wanted to accomplish – more space, more tables, all those simple things that people wanted from their library. I think we’re there.”
Saturday also will serve as a soft opening, of sorts, for the South Chauncey Avenue Plaza, a $1.6 million project that stretches the 200 block between the library and West Lafayette City Hall. City officials said earlier this week that the plaza – including street pavers, a curbless crossing between city hall and the library and outdoor seating – is ready for the library grand opening. Work will continue in the coming weeks before bollards are lifted on either end of the block and traffic may use it.
IF YOU GO: The West Lafayette Public Library’s grand re-opening will be 1-6 p.m., with a ribbon cutting at 1:45 p.m. and tours that start at 2 p.m. and continue through the afternoon. The event will include live music, door prizes, food and family activities.
SCHOOL BOARD RACES LINED UP FOR LSC, TSC, WEST SIDE
Here are a few takeaways from the candidate filing deadline – noon Friday – in nonpartisan school board races in the three districts in Greater Lafayette.
Lafayette School Corp.: All four incumbents up for re-election filed to be on the Nov. 8 ballot. Of those, two fielded no challenger in an election where school board candidates are elected by voters in their districts. (* = incumbent)
District 2: Bob Stwalley *, unopposed
District 3: Brent Clemenz* and Matt Morris
District 6: Allison McKay*, unopposed
District 7: Steve Bultinck* and Chuck Hockema
Tippecanoe School Corp.: Two of the three incumbents up for re-election – Linda Day, who has been on the TSC board since 1998, and Patrick Hein, who has served two, four-year terms – did not file to run again. Candidates for TSC board are voted on by people who live in their districts.
District 1 (Wabash Township and a portion of Shelby Township): Holly Keckler, Diane Kelley and Carl Krieger
District 2 (Tippecanoe Township): Josh Loggins* and Holden Mugford
District 3 (Washington and Perry townships): Sara Bagsby and William Sondgerath Jr.
West Lafayette Community School Corp.: Two years ago, more than a dozen candidates were on the ballot for four at-large school board seats. In 2022, the field is smaller but still crowded – six candidates will go for three at-large seats. Two incumbents will be on the ballot. Board member Alan Karpick did not file to run again. Two candidates from 2020 – Dacia Mumford and Angela Janes – filed to be on the ballot this year, too.
Voters across West Lafayette’s school district will get to choose three of among these candidates: Angela Janes, George Lyle IV, Dacia Mumford, Karen Springer*, Laurence Wang and Rachel Witt*.
BALLOTS, VOTER REGISRATION, ETC.: Who will be on your ballot? Are you registered to vote? If not, how can you register to vote? That and more, available at Indiana’s voter portal, Indianavoters.in.gov.
A NEW GENERAL MANAGER FOR CITYBUS
CityBus, Greater Lafayette’s tax-funded transportation company, this week named Bryan Smith as its next general manager and CEO. Smith will come from Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he was deputy CEO of operations for The Ride, that city’s transit company. CityBus’ board of directors reported that Smith started his career as a bus operator for the student-run Campus Bus System at Kent State University, before going on to 30-year career with The Ride in Ann Arbor, Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District in Illinois, and the Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority in Ohio. Smith will start Sept. 19, replacing Randy Anderson, CityBus’ IT systems administrator who has been acting general manager since October 2021.
“The board of directors looks forward to his arrival as we come out of the pandemic and return to providing mobility throughout our growing community,” Ben Murray, chairman of CityBus’ board of directors, said in a release this week.
The search for a new CityBus general manager came after Marty Sennett, who’d had the job for 38 years, retired, amid an internal investigation into complaints from employees about his management style. Sennett’s early retirement package was signed in October 2022, nearly two months after board members told him to work from home and not come to the office while they investigated complaints of a hostile workplace, some of which came to light after an employee talked openly during a CityBus board meeting about situations that led to her resignation from an administrative position.
Sennett disputed the accusations, calling them “a lot of lies that don’t hold water” and “nothing but retribution.” But at the time, Sennett and Murray said the retirement announcement was a mutual agreement.
NEW CHIEF FOR PURDUE POLICE
Lesley Wiete, deputy chief and a 22-year member of the Purdue University Police Department, will be the next chief of the campus force, the university announced Friday. Wiete was among three finalists who went through a series of campus forums this summer at Purdue looked to replace Chief John Cox, who retired at the end of June and will be on the November ballot for Benton County sheriff. Wiete will start as chief Sept. 1, the university said. According to a Purdue release, Wiete started with the university as a patrol officer in 1999, was promoted to sergeant of patrol in 2002, lieutenant of patrol in 2009, captain of administrative services in 2019 and deputy chief of police in 2021. Purdue President Daniels said, via a university release: “Deputy Chief Wiete’s dedication to this university and our community make her the ideal choice for this vital role.”
FIREHOUSE FUNDRAISERS: With so much going on for a late summer Saturday – Beers Across the Wabash in downtown Lafayette, the library opening in West Lafayette (see above), the Indiana Bacon Festival in Delphi, Ouibache roots music festival at Lafayette’s Columbian Park, the Wabash River Century Ride heading out from Fort Ouiatenon – put these fire department fundraisers into the mix.
The Buck Creek Fish Fry will hold its 76th annual event for the Washington Township/Buck Creek Fire Department from 4:30-7:30 p.m. Saturday at East Tipp Middle School, 7501 E. County Road 300 North. It’s all you can eat for $12. For a list of raffle and auction items, and for more details, go to: buckcreekvfd.org/fish-fry/
The Wabash Township Fire Department will hold a port-a-pit chicken fundraiser from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday at Brokerage Brewing Col, 2516 Covington St., West Lafayette. Tickets: $12. For more information, here’s your link.
Thanks to The Long Center for the Performing Arts for its support and sponsorship of today’s edition of Based in Lafayette. For details about upcoming shows, including Justin Moore at Loeb Stadium on Friday, Sept. 2, click here for tickets and more.
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