The (Munster) Times. May 31, 2018

Cal College shows great community work in helping Boys and Girls Clubs.

The attributes of higher-education institutions can be seen as shining accents throughout Northwest Indiana.

Local colleges and universities provide positive impacts on so many levels, from vital research for Region planning to post-secondary education options for our developing generations.

The latest example comes courtesy of Calumet College of St. Joseph, a Hammond-based institution all-too-often overlooked.

A group of Calumet College business students recently reviewed the programming and made recommendations for improving the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana.

Associate business professor Desila Rosetti said students in her strategic business management class led focus groups, with a heavy focus on speaking with youth who benefit from the Boys and Girls Clubs.

"It was very well received by the Boys and Girls Club," Rosetti said. "They were overwhelmed with the quality of the work that the college students did."

The Calumet College students' work included visits to six of the 10 clubs in Lake and Porter counties.

That type of comprehensive review to improve programming would have cost the nonprofit organization a small fortune.

Instead, Boys and Girls Clubs received useful recommendations, including possible additional security precautions, free of charge.

"The college students did a great job with the focus groups and capturing information and presenting these observations to us," said Ryan Smiley, executive director for Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana. "We are talking and putting together an action plan based on the recommendations."

It's but the latest anecdote in a long list of benefits our Region reaps from its plethora of higher learning institutions.

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The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette. May 24, 2018

A green light

Study backs Electric Works concept

Asked to look at whether the Fort Wayne market can support a residential, office and retail complex as ambitious as Electric Works, the Washington, D.C.-based RCLCO consulting firm has unveiled its much-anticipated report, and it could be a game-changer.

Adam Ducker, a managing director of the firm, buttressed his conclusions about the GE-campus project with a detailed overview of local economic activity and development. But Ducker's words, and the 43 pages of charts, maps and graphs that accompanied them, could be boiled down to a simple phrase:

If you build it, they will come.

The demand is there, he said - for apartments, for office space and for retail. Citing long-term trends in job growth, demand for office and apartment space and downtown-area shopping habits, Ducker maintained that the area could easily provide the workers, residents and customers to make Electric Works succeed.

"The economic outlook in Fort Wayne is actually better than you give yourselves credit for," Ducker said.

"This is a project that I believe is responding to an expanding community," he said. "The question is, why hasn't the market stepped up sooner?"

RCLCO was hired and paid by RTM, the development consortium behind Electric Works. But the Allen County-Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board signaled it was comfortable with the Washington, D.C.-based firm being asked to gauge the feasibility of the project.

"They needed an objective party to do this," said Community Improvement Board Chairman Jim Cook, who comparedRCLCO's assessment to the kind of research a bank does before giving a developer a loan.

The 50-year-old firm has a good reputation, Cook said in an interview Thursday. "There are only a couple of firms that do this kind of work."

Electric Works is not yet a done deal. Cook said the CIB is refining earlier research by Novogradac & Co. to make sure it has the most accurate possible estimates on the economic return the project could bring the community.

Within days, Mayor Tom Henry is expected to unveil a development proposal he has worked on with other city and county officials. The Legacy Joint Funding Committee still must decide whether to approve a loan or grant that would be part of the local funding formula. And decision-makers are watching closely to see what tenants are willing to step forward.

But the RCLCO findings have given Electric Works a major boost.

"It's an exciting project," Cook said. "We have to make sure we do our diligence. But this is an encouraging report and I think it validates a lot of the assumptions of the developer."

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The (Bloomington) Herald-Times. May 31, 2018

Class of 2018: Made in the 21st century

The story in Tuesday's H-T about high school seniors wearing their caps and gowns back to their elementary schools should serve as a reminder about the passage of time.

It wasn't so long ago these seniors were sitting in those same elementary schools awaiting the joy and freedom of summer vacation. Then, before they expected it, they were there last week, many returning to their elementary schools for the first time in years.

When the high schoolers walked the halls, the elementary school children congratulated them for the achievement they will reach with commencement on Saturday. Those younger children probably can't wait to be the ones with caps and gowns, not realizing how soon it will be.

These seniors and others in our region have every right to be proud when they take part in their commencements. They may not realize just how much they've learned and grown during the years spent in their local schools, especially through their four years of high school. They've made life-long friends and acquired knowledge and skills that will serve them through their lives.

The class of 2018 is unique. It is the first in which most of its students never lived in a year that started with 19.

Members of the class aren't old enough to remember the tragedy of 9/11 and their only Clinton-for-president campaign was Hillary's.

They aren't old enough to have memories of Justin Timberlake performing in a boy band. But they've always had smartphones, which they can use to look up videos of NSYNC. If they want to.

One has to wonder: What will be invented, found or discovered before those elementary school children they visited last week are preparing to graduate from high school?

The threat of gun violence has grown as these seniors have gone through school. The fact that they could be shot in school became so real to many of them this year that they marched on Washington.

Many in the class vow to be politically active and do social good. They want to make the world a better place.

Will they follow through on that idealism? We hope so.

Their time of growth is far from over. Many will go on to college where they will have more unlimited opportunities and continued discovery. Others will join the military to serve their country; go to work to contribute to their communities; or set off on other paths of personal fulfillment.

As the word commencement denotes, this truly is a beginning.

In the years ahead, may the graduates look back fondly on their days at Bloomington High School North, BHS South, Edgewood or whichever high school they have attended. May their memories spark smiles similar to those they had when they walked the halls of their elementary schools last week.

Congratulations and best wishes to the class of 2018.

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South Bend Tribune. May 30, 2018

St. Joseph County willing to be creative in solving leaf pickup puzzle

What one county commissioner described as an "impossible" situation will have St. Joseph County exploring options when it comes to leaf pickup.

The county has tried several times to improve the program, but it has been stuck in a badly negotiated contract with a contractor that has been the source of a flood of complaints. This year they opened the process to bids, but only a handful of companies showed interest.

Many residents have lost faith in the current program and question whether it's too big a job for one contractor.

That has the county looking at new options to supplement the program.

County Commissioners President Andy Kostielney, in a meeting with The Tribune's Editorial Board, said county officials are discussing:

. Making sites where contractors dump collected leaves available to the public.

. Working with homeowners associations to determine if the county could subsidize a portion of the pickup program, making it more manageable for neighborhoods and subdivisions to remove their own leaves.

. Distributing biodegradable bags at little or no cost to residents to help with leaf removal.

. Modifying the county's burn ban so residents could burn leaves on weekends over the course of a few weeks rather than just one week.

None of the options are ideal, but they're all worth debating along with any other valid ideas.

"We're making the least worst decision we can," Kostielney said.

All of the options would require more participation by residents. But that's the trade-off homeowners will have to accept to keep the program running at an affordable cost.

The latest offer from Greenworld Environmental Management calls for a one-year extension of its contract for the coming season at a minimum cost of $1.425 million. That's $498,750 more than the county paid Greenworld for the 2017-18 season.

But beyond the significant price increase, Greenworld also would be offering less service. The number of collection passes would be reduced to only two in the fall.

The additional money Greenworld wants would be used to buy a state-of-the-art automated vacuum truck for $475,000. If a new truck couldn't be found, the money would go toward other improvements of the leaf pickup fleet.

After years of providing leaf pickup for residents, the county is now stuck. Residents have come to expect the service. The cost of individual subdivisions contracting for leaf removal could be cost prohibitive.

Most concerning for us is the likelihood that leaf burning would dramatically increase if the county abandoned its leaf pickup program. Smoke from burning leaves would become a public health issue for those with breathing problems.

There is time before a decision on how to proceed is made. The County Council won't vote on whether to fund leaf pickup until its June 12 meeting.

That leaves time for county officials, the contractor and — most importantly — the public to talk about possible solutions to a puzzle that's still missing some important pieces.

You can't fix an impossible situation. But you can be creative in how you manage it.

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