Evansville

Officers Fatally Shoot Man Outside Indiana Courthouse

Aug 29, 2017

Police say a bat-wielding man has been fatally shot by officers in a confrontation outside a federal courthouse in Indiana.

Evansville police Sgt. Jason Cullum says an Evansville police officer and a federal courthouse security officer fired Tuesday morning on the man, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

Cullum says the man had visited the southwestern Indiana courthouse Monday and expressed "concerns about the government." He says he returned Tuesday brandishing a baseball bat and smashed windows in the courthouse's front doors.

Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency is about halfway through the cleanup of an Evansville site contaminated with lead and arsenic.

The contaminated site is 4.5 square miles in the Jacobsville neighborhood of Evansville. The lead and arsenic in the soil were left over from manufacturing operations that took place more than one hundred years ago.

The site is on the EPA’s Superfund National Priorities List and the cleanup has been in progress for five years.

Jena Sleboda-Braun is the remedial project manager in the EPA’s Superfund Division for the Chicago region. She says residents are not being displaced during the cleanup.

Alcoa Public Relations

Alcoa Corp. plans to partially reopen its aluminum smelting operations in southwestern Indiana, restoring nearly half of the 600 jobs lost when it shut down the facility along the Ohio River last year.

Alcoa says it will spend about $30 million to restart three of five smelter lines at its Warrick Operations near Evansville, where its rolling mill makes aluminum for food and beverage packaging.

The Pittsburgh-based company closed the smelter in March of 2016, but now expects production to resume during spring of 2018.

Vanderburgh Humane Society

The city of Evansville is considering allowing potbellied pigs as pets. 

The city's Animal Control and Education Commission has reviewed a proposed ordinance that would add the pigs to the list of pets allowed with a license.

The Courier and Press reports the commission is recommending that the permit price to keep one of the pigs be set at $100. That fee is comparable to the permit required to  own six or more dogs. 

The Evansville City Council will review the proposed ordinance on June 26.

Evansville Rescue Mission

As bitterly cold temperatures move across our region, a shelter in Evansville, Indiana is giving out some life-saving equipment to the homeless.

It may look like a jacket, but the unique garment doubles as a sleeping bag that protects against severe cold.

NPR

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, are attending a fundraiser at a private home in Evansville next week.

Monday’s event is being hosted by businessman Steve Chancellor, the CEO of American Patriot Group, which makes field-ready meals for military personnel.

The Evansville Courier & Press reports Kentucky Congressman Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green is also scheduled to attend the fundraiser.

The minimum donation for a couple is $10,000. Photo opportunities and access to VIPs will cost more—between $25,000-$250,000.

Trump and Pence are trying to keep Indiana’s 11 electoral college votes in the Republican win category. Republican Mitt Romney beat President Obama by 10 percentage points in 2012.

Land Bank of Evansville

Evansville is creating a nonprofit land bank under a new Indiana law that went into effect this month.

Kelley Coures is executive director of the Evansville Department of Metropolitan Development. He says the land bank gives the city a way to demolish vacant buildings that are not valuable enough to be renovated and are not bringing in tax revenue.

“The land bank functions just like a regular bank, instead of money it takes in property. We’re hoping that developers will see that we have lots of available land, or we will have, after we clear out all of these vacant and blighted structures. And we can build things like new homes, affordable housing.”

He says the vacant properties are sometimes used by homeless people or drug dealers and that creates safety issues in neighborhoods.

“Ten percent of all fires in cities like Evansville occur in vacant and abandoned structures. Homeless people, vagrants come in, start fires to try and keep warm or people making drugs, people cooking methamphetamine get in these houses, since there’s no occupant, and make drugs there.”

Coures says Vanderburgh County loses $2 million a year in unpaid property taxes from the properties that have no current owner. The Evansville City Council gave final approval to the land bank this week.

Creative Commons

The Vanderburgh County jail in Evansville is holding 680 prisoners. The Evansville Courier & Press reports Sheriff Dave Wedding says the facility was built with 512 beds and a 540 inmate capacity.

Wedding says part of the problem is a change in Indiana state law that requires low-level felons with at least a year still to serve once their cases are adjudicated to remain in county jails. Previously they were transported to Indiana state corrections facilities.

Sheriff Wedding also blames widespread drug and alcohol addiction, a lack of jail alternatives and a backed up court calendar.

More than two dozen inmates will be transported to other jails in southwest Indiana to help ease the overcrowding.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders brought his call for a political revolution to Evansville Monday.

Speaking a day before Indiana’s primary, Sanders told an estimated crowd of more than 3,000 people that the country will be watching tomorrow to see who the Hoosier State supports.

The Evansville Courier and Press reports Sanders told the crowd at Old National Events Plaza that America needs less corporate greed, and a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

Sanders is trailing Hillary Clinton by about 300 pledged delegates.

But Clinton has a huge advantage in support among superdelegates---the Democratic Party leaders who can back any candidate they like at the party’s nominating convention.

Map Evansville

An online tool with information about Evansville-area businesses and their attitudes towards LGBT customers and employees is looking to expand.

The Map Evansville website is the brainchild of University of Southern Indiana psychology professor Amie McKibban, who asks business owners to fill out a survey, with the results shared online.

McKibban says the recent controversy in the Hoosier State regarding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act has led to a spike in the number of businesses that want to fill out the assessment.

“I think we jumped from 30 businesses to about 71 in a matter of two weeks," the USI professor said.

McKibban and a USI student are struggling to keep the website updated with the amount of new information being sent in.

McKibban is seeking private and corporate support that she says will be used to update the website’s current software and develop a mobile app that can be used by area residents and visitors to learn more about how businesses handle LGBT issues.

“So it’s really easy, if you’re out and about, or if you’re new to the area or visiting the area. You can download the app and find the restaurant you’re looking for, or perhaps a bakery you’re looking for, a clothing store, a place of worship—whatever you’re looking for,” McKibban said.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Shirley Li/Medill

The man who chaired the Federal Reserve during the most tumultuous time in recent memory is speaking Monday in Evansville.

Ben Bernanke, who served eight years as Fed chairman before retiring in January of 2014, will give a speech and answer questions at the University of Southern Indiana, as part of the Romaine College of Business Innovative Speaker Series.

The college’s dean, Muhammad Khayum, says he’s interesting is learning how the former Fed Chair handled the pressure of knowing that anything he said about the economy could have major ramifications.

“I’m just curious as to how they internally respond to that level of attention and the kind of sway they have over individuals in our society,” Khayum said.

Some of the questions that will be put forth to Bernanke will come from USI students.

“There’s a question, for example, that the students put forward about the issue of student debt, and whether that’s the next bubble in the economy due to the magnitude of that student debt.”

Bernanke’s talk will begin Monday at 6 pm at the University of Southern Indiana Physical Activities Center.

It’s free and open to the public, and overflow seating and a live feed of the event will be provided if regular seating at the facility runs out.

An Evansville, IN based banking company has announced plans to sell 17 branches and consolidate or close another 19 locations.

Old National Bank issued a release Monday detailing the news that will affect branches in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio.

Twelve branch locations in Southern Illinois will be sold to First Mid-Illinois Bancshares, leaving only two Old National Bank locations in Marshall and Danville. The company also will sell four Eastern Indiana branches, as well as its only location in Ohio, to MainSource Bank in a separate deal.

 Thirteen additional branches in Indiana, three branches in Michigan and three branches in Kentucky will either be closed or consolidated in the next several months.

HCW Development

City officials in Evansville say they’ll have to start anew on a project to build a downtown convention hotel.  At a press conference Thursday morning, Mayor Lloyd Winnecke announced that previous plans for a 257-room hotel are being scrapped because of a $6.5 million shortage in funding.

“This is a disappointing delay but it is not a defeat,” said Winnecke.  “We cannot look at it as a defeat.  We are fully committed to building a full-service convention hotel in downtown Evansville. It is what we need and we’ll find a path to victory, I assure you.”

The city had committed $20 million in taxpayer dollars for the project, but Old National Bank wasn’t able to cover the entire $14 million dollars it had originally allocated.

“Are we disappointed? Absolutely,” said Old National Bank CEO and President Bob Jones. “This has been our home for 180 years as an institution.  This community deserves a convention hotel; this community deserves to continue the great momentum we’ve seen.”

The overall cost of the hotel was just over $71 million.   A groundbreaking ceremony took place in March at the proposed building site near the Ford Center, but no construction actually took place.

It’s a health alert more often seen in the summer, but the Environmental Protection Agency in Evansville has issued an air quality alert through Sunday. 

The executive director of the city agency tells the Courier & Press that the air this weekend could be unhealthy for those with respiratory problems – especially children, teenagers or older adults.

The alert is being blamed on a high pressure system and stagnant air.

Mesker Park Zoo

The Evansville Convention and Visitors Bureau is pledging a $300,000 dollar grant to help build a carousel and aviary at the Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden.

The Courier & Press reports the board of commissioners at the CVB voted to award the matching grant. The money comes from the city’s "innkeeper" or hotel-motel tax. The zoo will have to raise $300,000 on its own to receive the grant. 

The project has an overall price tag of $3 million dollars and is expected to open sometime in 2016.

Around 175,000 people visit the Mesker Park Zoo each year.

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