INDIANA-TORNADO AID REQUEST
Federal aid sought for tornado-hit C. Ind. county
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - State officials are seeking a federal major disaster declaration for central Indiana's Howard County because of damage during last month's wave of tornadoes and severe storms.
The governor's office says Governor Mike Pence is asking that the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved grants and low-interest loans to help homeowners and business in and around Kokomo recover from the November 17th storm.
The request says 191 homes in Howard County were destroyed or have major damage, with about 800 more with less-severe damage. The National Weather Service found that two tornadoes with winds of at least 120 miles per hour hit Kokomo that day.
Pence's request says damage assessments are continuing and aid might be sought for more counties hit by the storm, including Daviess, Fountain and Grant counties.
Ritz: Power grab outlined in Pence document
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Democratic Schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz says an internal document obtained by her office shows Republican Gov. Mike Pence's new education agency is trying to strip her of power.
Ritz's staff has released a policy document from the Center for Education and Career Innovation discussing ways to limit her power as chair of the State Board of Education. The new agency is at the center of the ongoing power struggle between Ritz and Pence for control of education policy.
But a Pence spokeswoman said the governor had already "squashed" the idea in October and accused Ritz of playing games.
In the memo, Pence's staff discusses altering how the education board is governed. It was sent between two Pence staffers on Oct. 3, according to an email released Wednesday by Ritz's office.
GM using landfill gas to power Fort Wayne plant
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) -General Motors Corporation is spending $11 million at its Fort Wayne Assembly Plant to create a small power plant to supply 40 percent of the factory's operations.
GM spokeswoman Amanda Kurzman tells WPTA-TV the move will save GM about $5 million a year and reduce the truck assembly plant's carbon footprint.
Since 2002 the plant has been using landfill gas to create steam for its boilers. For that project, a pipeline was built to deliver the gas from a landfill about nine miles away.
Now, a new building is being constructed to house several generators that will turn the landfill gas into energy the plant can use. It's due to be up and running by May.
INDIANA AFL-CIO PRESIDENT
New AFL-CIO head aims to educate, mobilize locally
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The new president of the Indiana AFL-CIO says the state labor movement needs to revitalize itself at the community level and get more labor-friendly candidates elected to office.
Brett Voorhies says revitalizing unions in Indiana will take time and patience.
He told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday that the AFL-CIO needs to educate and mobilize its members on issues. It also is recruiting worker-friendly candidates for the General Assembly after its unsuccessful campaign to block passage of the state's right-to-work law.
Delegates voted during the group's state convention in Terre Haute (TEHR'-uh HOHT) Tuesday to elect Voorhies as the new president of the 300,000-member organization over incumbent Nancy Guyott (GUY'-aht). Voorhies has been president of the Central Indiana Labor Council since 2011 and a political coordinator for the United Steelworkers.
Owner of closed NW Ind. plants plans marina, homes
HAMMOND, Ind. (AP) - The new owner of a closed power plant along Lake Michigan says he's looking to transform the site by building a marina and residences with lakefront views.
Those plans include demolishing the State Line Energy plant in Hammond that was a coal-burning generating facility for eight decades before it was shut down last year.
New owner Alan Beemsterboer tells The Times of Munster it will take several years to move ahead with the plans and that his ideas are conceptual at this point.
Beemsterboer has purchased 34 acres of the plant's 77-acre site at the border of Hammond and Chicago.
The other section includes where a massive coal heap once stood. A Texas company owns that property and has been decommissioning the plant and cleaning up the land.
NATURAL GAS STATION
1st liquefied natural gas station opens in Ind.
SELLERSBURG, Ind. (AP) - The opening of Indiana's first liquefied natural gas refueling station has officials touting the use of the alternative fuel.
A ceremony was held Tuesday marking the opening of the station just off Interstate 65 in Sellersburg, a few miles north of Louisville, Kentucky.
Greater Indiana Clean Cities Coalition director Kellie Walsh says the state started 2013 with six natural-gas stations, all of which sold compressed natural gas.
Walsh tells the News and Tribune that the Sellersburg site is Indiana Indiana's 15th natural-gas station and the first with the super-cold liquefied gas.
State Representative Randy Frye of Greensburg says the state is encouraging trucking companies to convert semis to natural gas with $15,000 tax credits.
Mediator: Progress between Ritz, board members
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A national mediator called into help with the state's ongoing education battle says she sees progress between the two sides.
Kris Amundson guided the members of the State Board of Education through a three-hour discussion of their roles. Amundson runs the National Association of State Boards of Education.
She was called in to help with an ongoing fight between Democratic schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz and board members who've been appointed by Republican governors.
Ritz stormed out of a board meeting last month after a member pushed a measure Ritz said would shift power from her. She previously sued board members alleging violation of Indiana's public access laws.
Ritz chairs the education board, but the other 10 members have been appointed by either Governor Mike Pence or former Governor Mitch Daniels.
LILLY ENDOWMENT-MINISTERS' DEBTS
5 Indiana theology schools share in Lilly grant
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Five Indiana theology schools are among 51 nationwide that have been awarded a total of more than $12 million by the Lilly Endowment to study economic issues facing future ministers.
The Indianapolis-based endowment announced this week the 51 schools include Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, the Anderson University School of Theology, Fort Wayne's Concordia Theological Seminary and Bethany Theological Seminary and the Earlham School of Religion, both in Richmond. Each school will receive about $250,000.
The Endowment began its initiative last year with an experimental pilot. Grants were given to 16 theological schools to develop programs to improve the economic well-being of their students and graduates.
The endowment says recent research shows student educational debt in excess of $30,000 is not uncommon for seminary graduates.
Ex-youth pastor admits sexual contact with girl
(Information in the following story is from: (Greenfield) Daily Reporter, http://www.greenfieldreporter.com)
GREENFIELD, Ind. (AP) - A former youth pastor at a suburban Indianapolis church has pleaded guilty to charges that he had sexual contact with a girl who attended the church.
A Hancock County judge sentenced 61-year-old Steve Harding to spend two years in a community corrections program and a year on probation. Harding pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a felony charge of sexual misconduct with a minor for his actions while he was a youth pastor at New Palestine United Methodist Church.
The Daily Reporter reports prosecutors dropped a more serious charge of child molesting.
Judge Richard Culver told Harding he took advantage of the girl's trust in him as a family friend and mentor.
Authorities say the sexual conduct happened in 2009 and 2010 when the girl was 13 and 14.
TENNIS BALL BOMB
Indy man charged with having tennis ball bomb
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Prosecutors have charged an Indianapolis man accused of turning a tennis ball into a bomb.
Twenty-year-old Neal Grubbs was formally charged Wednesday with felonious possession of a destructive device.
WRTV-TV reports court documents state officers found a tennis ball filled with BBs in Grubbs' home last month.
An anonymous tipster told authorities Grubbs was planning to plant the bomb in a movie theater, but Grubbs' family and a close friend said he's being framed by a former friend.
Grubbs was being held in the Marion County Jail.
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