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September 7 - September 12 News Updates

Indiana health officials are warning residents to take coronavirus precautions seriously over the Labor Day weekend. new statewide COVID-19 risk ratings show most counties have minimal or moderate virus spread.

However, officials are urging people to wear masks and avoid crowds during the Labor Day weekend after large gatherings around the Fourth of July contributed to an increase in coronavirus cases during July and August.

Indiana University officials have asked all 40 fraternity and sorority houses on its Bloomington campus to shut down because high rates of coronavirus infections, but say they have no authority to force them to close.

The Gary Redevelopment Commission has approved the sale of the South Gleason Park Golf Course and Gilroy Field, to a private Illinois equity firm for $9 million. The parcel of land is 155 acres.

The commission accepted the purchase offer from Bradford Equities LLC in a 3-2 vote.

Redevelopment Commission president Eric Reaves said he couldn’t divulge the developer’s intent for the property, but said it’s centered around a distribution warehouse or light manufacturing operation.

Several council members are concerned about what the developers plan to build at the location since they were not made aware of the purchase. Also Attorney Rinzer Williams the third, who is a city attorney, said he had first right to purchase the property based on a 2019 Gary Park Board contract. He signed the contract with the park board in November 2019. But the city had already acquired the land in 2018.

As reported earlier, The COVID-19 pandemic will have an impact on Lake County government’s finances. Scott Schmal, the Lake County Council’s finance director, said income tax revenues — which amount to millions of dollars annually — are down 10% this year.

However, Lake County employees are still hoping to receive a 3% across-the-board salary increase in 2021. Lake County Council members still support the increase

The Gary Public Transportation Corporation (GPTC) has begun a new and improved bus schedule, providing more service with fewer transfers. The Broadway Metro Express will have three additional stops, which include Lake County Government Building; Adam Benjamin Jr. VA Outpatient Clinic; and Purdue Research Park Ivy Tech Campus. With the new schedule, it is now just one trip from Gary to Crown Point and from Crown Point to the South Shore Line. The Ivy Tech South Broadway Shuttle will be suspended as a separate route. Trips on the Broadway express will run every 30 minutes and will increase to every 20 minutes as ridership grows.

Leaders from Legacy Foundation, Indiana Black Expo, City of Gary, City of East Chicago, and South Shore Neighborhood Development Corporation will gather Wednesday, September 16 for a press conference at the Gary/Chicago International Airport to launch the COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund. The partners will announce application guidelines, deadlines and how to submit.

There is an urgent need for assistance to sustain Gary and East Chicago small businesses with their immediate financial challenges as a result of a demonstrated economic injury due to COVID-19. With funding from Legacy Foundation, Indiana Black Expo, and the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation, the COVID-19 Small Business Relief Fund will provide one-time grants ranging from $2,500-$5,000 per business. Priority will be given to minority and woman owned businesses.

Hobart is experiencing a negative cash balance in their general fund of $5.1 million. Several options have been put forward by city councilmen including reducing the budget. They have also discussed instituting A wheel tax, food and beverage tax, a business licensing program and fire territory options are still being considered. No immediate action is expected on those proposals.

Mayor Brian Snedecor said there are nonprofit groups and other organizations that don't pay property taxes on their land, but the city provides services to them. They are also reviewing TIF money to determine if it could cover expenses currently paid from other funding sources.

Early voting begins Oct. 6. For Indiana registered voters. Voters can cast ballots at any of 11 locations:

• The Lake County Government Center elections board office, Room A 2 0 5,

• The county courthouses in East Chicago, Gary and Hammond

• St. John Township assessor’s office

• Lowell, Schererville, Winfield and Munster Town Halls

• Wicker Park Social Center

• and Hobart Police Community Center

Mayor Joe Stahura of Whiting entered a guilty plea Wednesday in federal court. Stahura is charged with wire fraud and filing a false tax return and the misuse of campaign funds on gambling and personal bills totaling $225,000.

As part of the plea deal, he pleaded guilty to the charges outlined in the Aug. 27 complaint which claims between April 2014 and November 2019 the Stahuras made 57 withdrawals totaling $55,700 from the Committee to Elect Joe Stahura account that was used in casinos in Hammond, Iowa and French Lick.

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