Evansville

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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.

The U.S. Postal Service says it will open post office locations in Bowling Green and Evansville on two Sundays this holiday season to reduce wait times and allow customers to get a jump on holiday shipping. 

The Bowling Green General Mail Facility on Scottsville Road along with the Lawndale Station on S. Green River Road in Evansville will open on December 14th and 21st.  The facilities will be open from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. those days.

The Postal Service says 607 million pieces of mail will be processed on Dec. 15th, making it the busiest day of the season. 

Fisher Dynamics

Nearly 170 new jobs will be coming to Evansville over the next two years.  Fisher Dynamics, an automotive supplier based in Michigan announced plans Wednesday to open a new facility in Evansville.

Fisher Dynamics will invest $11 millionfor the facility. Mayor Lloyd Winnecke says the new jobs will pay an average of $19 an hour.

At first glance, an area of land near the state hospital in Evansville seems like a perfect place for a dog park. 

But not everyone’s on board with the proposed location.

Denise Johnson, executive director of Evansville’s Parks and Recreation department, says the 6.7 acres is well suited for a dog park.

“No. 1 there’s shade.  And you’ve already got very large trees that are 120 years old or less – but very large.  You’ve got great shade, and you’ve got a level surface to start with,” said Johnson.

She also says there is plenty of parking, it’s easily accessible by car and they’ve already worked out a deal with the state to acquire the part of the land that doesn’t already belong to the city. 

But Johnson says plans for the dog park are on hold right now. 

Evansville Museum

After two years without a permanent leader, the Evansville Museum has selected a new executive director.  Bryan Knicely comes to Evansville from Florida where he led the Coral Springs Museum of Art.

The Evansville Museum completed a major renovation earlier this year and houses 30,000 objects in its permanent collection.

"This is an exciting time for the Museum. After the successful completion of the capital campaign and building expansion, we are in a period of rapid growth and look to become the number one cultural destination in the region,” said board president Sharon Walker. “We are happy to have Bryan join the staff, as he has extensive experience leading arts and cultural centers across the country.”

Dr. John Streetman III retired at the end of 2012 after nearly four decades with the museum. Mary Bower had been serving as the interim director.

Haier

A 30,000 square foot product research and development tech center is coming to Evansville. Haier America says the center will employ 50 new workers in what it calls “high-wage jobs”.  Haier makes home appliances and consumer electronics.

“Today’s announcement is also a symbolic victory for our region and signifies a re-emergence in the appliance industry in a city with a strong manufacturing history of producing refrigerators and large appliances,” said Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke in a written release.

The tech center in Evansville is expected to open by early next year. 

Theft Ring Hits 16 Stores In Evansville Area

Aug 5, 2014

Prosecutors in Evansville say investigators have broken up a theft ring that hit 16 stores, stealing flat-screen televisions, high-end apparel, power tools and other items.

The Vanderburgh County Prosecutor's Office said Tuesday that 19 people face charges including corrupt business influence, interstate transportation of stolen goods and conspiracy.

The Evansville Courier & Press reports the ring stole millions of dollars' worth of goods that also included vacuum cleaners, copper piping, and high end purses and accessories. Several of the stores that were hit are located in Evansville's Eastland Mall.

The investigation involved the FBI's Southwest Indiana Violent Crime Task Force, the Evansville Police Department, the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor's Office, the Indiana State Police and the Warrick County Sheriff's Office.

Mike Festscher/Save Mesker Facebook Page

An Evansville City Councilman is imploring his colleagues to take up the issue of what to do with the shuttered Mesker Amphitheater on the city’s west side.  Al Lindsey tells the Courier & Press the City Council should include the future of the deteriorating amphitheater in the city’s 2015 budget discussions. 

The Mesker has been closed since 2012 when it was deemed unsuitable for the public. Multiple studies have been done about what it would cost to renovate the facility, which once hosted concerts by the likes of Bob Dylan and the Doobie Brothers. 

The Mesker Amphitheater opened in 1951.

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