Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Big Four Association Band

Beech Grove, IN (December 10, 2019) — The Big Four Athletic Association Band is long-gone, along with the Beech Grove baseball stadium, which was located between First and Fifth Avenues in the heart of town.

The Big Four Association Band, seen here on May 8th, 1926

The community was basically left without a musical performance unit from the time that the Big Four Band folded until the high school band was formed in the 1950's.

The Big Four Association Band performing at the Beech Grove Baseball Stadium

Beech Grove relied on the railroad band to play at celebrations since as both a town and a city, never had an organized community band. The Big Four Association Band played throughout Indiana at various parades and events.

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Sunday, December 8, 2019

Spectacular drone footage of Beech Grove Shops

Beech Grove, IN (December 8, 2019) — This spectacular drone footage catches some of the best shots of Amtrak's primary repair facility located at the former Big Four shops in Beech Grove Indiana. This was the scene on July 8, 2016 that included a look at Amtrak #66 in Heritage paint.

Beech Grove is Amtrak's primary maintenance facility. The shops were originally constructed in 1904-1908 by the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway (the "Big Four"), servicing a network stretching across the Midwest into Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio.

The facility was used as the company's repair shop for steam locomotives, passenger, and freight cars.

The facility passed to the New York Central Railroad in 1922, on its formal acquisition of the Big Four, and then on to Penn Central Transportation in 1968 when the Central merged with the Pennsylvania Railroad. Penn Central declared bankruptcy in 1970. Amtrak purchased the facility from the bankrupt Penn Central in 1975.

Although the shops were acquired by the New York Central Railway (NYC) in 1906, the Big Four worked as an independent business until it was formally merged with its owner in 1922.

Drone video was shot with a DJI Phantom 3. For more amazing train videos, check out Brian Sellers YouTube channel HERE.

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Friday, December 6, 2019

Beech Grove man charged in fatal gunfight

Beech Grove, IN (December 6, 2019) — A man is facing four charges, including murder, in connection with a bar gunfight that killed another man. Derek Oechsle, 32, of Beech Grove also was charged Thursday with attempted murder, battery and criminal recklessness in connection with the fatal shooting of Christopher Smith, 41, of Indianapolis on November 29 at Jake's Pub.

Witnesses told police Oechsle came into the bar and sat down across from a group celebrating Smith's bachelor party, The Indianapolis Star reported, citing a probable cause affidavit.

One member of the group who told police Oechsle stared at him and asked Oechsle whether he thought he was pretty. Oechsle got up, pulled out a gun and hit the man in the head with it, the affidavit said.

Smith was trying to separate the two when Oechsle allegedly fired and struck Smith several times, the affidavit said. Smith suffered one shot to the head and one shot that hit multiple organs.

Another witness pulled out his own gun and shot Oechsle, who then ran outside and fell, the affidavit said. Smith and Oechsle were taken to a hospital, where Smith was pronounced dead.

Oechsle was booked into the Marion County Jail. His attorney said he had no comment on the case at this time.

SOURCE: Associated Press
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Beech Grove man sentenced for armed robbery

Beech Grove, IN (December 6, 2019) — A Beech Grove man will spend about 22 years in prison after he robbed a man of marijuana and cash and hit a woman with a gun at a Greenwood apartment.

Brandon Saloane, 27, was convicted in a jury trial in October of two Level 3 felonies of armed robbery and robbery, a Level 4 felony of unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon and a Level 6 felony of battery with moderate bodily injury. The charges stem from a drug deal gone wrong on July 4.

Circuit Court Judge Andrew Roesener sentenced Saloane to 13 years each for the robbery charges and nine years for the unlawful possession of a firearm charge. Roesener vacated the Level 6 felony. The 13 years for the robbery charges will be served concurrently.

He was also sentenced to 45 days in jail for a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge. He was given time served in that incident. Saloane has 154 days of jail credit.

In July, Saloane arrived and paid the resident of a Greenwood apartment cash, and was given marijuana in return. Saloane used the restroom, then shoved a gun into the resident’s side and attempted to rob him.

Related | Trial begins for Beech Grove man facing felonies

Related | Beech Grove man arrested on felony charges

A woman who had been sleeping at the apartment told the jury she got up and Saloane smacked her in the face with a gun. A bullet was fired, but it is unclear if it grazed the woman. The woman received facial stitches for her injury, according to court documents.

Saloane represented himself during the jury trial and sentencing and made a statement before his hearing. He told the judge he believed the jury was biased against him on the serious violent offender charge. Roesener told Saloane that his claim would fall under an appeal, which was not being considered in the Thursday sentencing hearing.

Saloane asked for leniency and said that his life was perfect leading up to the crime. He asked for mercy in his sentencing, and said his sentence would be better served on work release and home detention. He also said he was not remorseful and that he did not know he was committing a crime.

"I can’t have remorse for a drug deal when he shorted me on a drug I tried to buy," Saloane said.

A relative of Saloane testified on his behalf and said Saloane had prior trauma and was a good student while he was in school, but he lacked parental guidance. The victims of the crime declined to testify in the hearing.

Deputy Prosecutor Daylon Welliver requested a 24-year sentence and argued Saloane committed violent crimes without regard to the public’s safety, and continued to blame others for the crimes.

"(Saloane) blames other people, which the jury rejected," Welliver said. "He continues to not accept responsibility for committing a very dangerous crime that endangered the public."

Saloane has an extensive criminal history, including juvenile and violent crimes and was not remorseful, which was considered in his sentencing. A factor that could have lessened the sentence was argued, but Roesener gave it little weight, the judge said.

SOURCE: Daily Journal
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Sunday, December 1, 2019

Benefits of supporting local businesses

Beech Grove, IN (December 1, 2019) IBG — A movement has taken consumers away from large, impersonal big-box retailers and introduces them to the people doing business in their very own cities. These are local farmers, craftsmen, antiques dealers, and other product providers, with items made locally and sold on a small scale.

When a consumer supports his local business owners, he enjoys benefits he can’t possibly get from shopping at national chains. Here are some top reasons to support your local entrepreneurs.

1. Improve your family’s health.
Buying local foods has numerous health benefits to your family. When you buy from local farmers, you have access to fruits and vegetables that you know are chemical free, as well as grass-fed meats, fresh eggs, and dairy from cows that feast on local green grass each day. There are also benefits to eating raw local honeys, which are thought to help battle allergies.

2. Improve the local economy.
When a consumer buys local, significantly more of that money stays in the community. In fact, one study found that for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 remained in the city while only $43 of each $100 spent at a chain retailer.

Local business owners often have incentive to support other local businesses, patronizing local establishments for both business and personal reasons. Chain businesses, on the other hand, tend to get their supplies from corporate, as well as having store managers and employees that aren’t as personally invested in buying local.

3. Know the people behind the product.
When you personally know the people behind the business where you’re buying local products and services, you enjoy a connection you would not otherwise have. Along with the rest of the community, you celebrate when a favorite local business succeeds and you mourn when it’s forced to shut its doors. This personal investment isn’t quite as present when a chain business closes, aside from feeling disappointment that you have fewer businesses within convenient driving distance.

4. Keep your community unique.
Local businesses give a community its flavor. Towns across America have similar chain restaurants, grocery and department stores but that diner down the street where you have breakfast every Saturday morning is one-of-a-kind. The combined presence of your town’s many local businesses makes it different from every other city in the world. By supporting those businesses instead of chains, you ensure that uniqueness is preserved as a part of your community.

5. Better customer service.
If you’ve ever dealt with a large corporation, you know getting help can be a nightmare. You’ll call a 1-800 number, only to be transferred seven times and put on hold. Even when you speak to a customer service representative, that person is so far removed from the decision-making process, there’s little concern that the company will lose you as a customer.

When you shop local, the business owner is usually directly connected to every employee in the store. That leads to a personal approach that often means any problem you have is taken seriously.

6. More personalized service.
Having the owner nearby also means that owner personally knows his customers. He knows the products you buy or the services you request on a regular basis and can tailor services to make your experience even better. A local gardening shop owner may learn about a new product on the market that can help you with a pest control problem you mentioned on one of your visits, for instance, and can order that product as part of his selections.

Buying local has benefits beyond mere convenience. When you support local business owners, you get a better level of service, as well as helping make your community a better place to live. This is in addition to the health benefits and access to unique products that you usually can’t find with chain locations.

About Invisible Beech Grove
Invisible Beech Grove shares events, history and news about Beech Grove, Indiana. Our most important role is to advocate for the ignored businesses in our community. We believe that every business is important and is part of the fabric of our city. These seemingly invisible businesses play a key role in the ongoing effort to make Beech Grove a great place to live and work
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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Discipline or Addiction: Two schools tackle vaping

Beech Grove, IN (November 27, 2019) IBG — Across the U.S., more than 2,000 people have reported vaping-related lung illnesses, and 47 have died. Some vaping happens in schools, so they share the burden of bringing this crisis under control. Which raises the question: what should the consequences be for a student caught vaping?

Some of these devices look like a flash drive, no bigger than a couple of inches. The smoke or vapor they release has little to no smell. Basically, they’re really easy to hide and are a nightmare for educators.

Beech Grove Senior High School

Beech Grove, Indiana
On a recent day at Beech Grove Senior High School in Beech Grove, Indiana, Students are dashing between classes. Principal Lizz Walters says about once a week or so, students are caught with e-cigarettes like those made by Juul.

Students caught the first time face an in-school suspension, she says. That means they have to complete educational materials on vaping and their parents are included too. They also can be connected to counseling. For a second offense, they’ll be suspended out of school.

"I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a school that was not sort of supplementing those resources with some type of school punishment," Walters says.

Still, Walters says striking this balance between discipline and help for students is a tough, daily conversation. Principals and teacher realize schools are structured and at home students may have much more freedom.

"But then eventually, we have to make sure that students recognize they cannot continue to do things in a school environment that is detrimental to the school environment," Walters says. "And that's hard. That is very hard."

In Spencer-Owen Community Schools, about an hour south of Indianapolis, a high school student got sick this fall after vaping a marijuana-laced e-cigarette. He went to the school nurse, and was reported to other school officials.

The student’s mother, Shannon Houck told RTV6, "How are we supposed to tell our children if you have a medical problem -- even if it is smoking a vape in school, and I understand he did wrong by doing that -- we’re teaching them don’t go to the school officials, don’t go to the nurse because you can get in trouble."

And that’s an important question, because more kids are vaping than ever before. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 1 in 4 high school students have used an e-cigarette in the last 30 days.

So now schools are left to decide how to handle these students.

Spencer-Owen Community Schools says it followed policy. And in most Indiana school districts, a student who vapes in school would be suspended or expelled after one or more instances.

"Teenagers are frustrating and impulsive, and what they respond best to is what's hardest." -Dr. Sarah Bosslet

"As adults, we think that ought to work, right?" says Dr. Sarah Bosslet, past president of Indiana's Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics says. "Because If you just tell them, ‘Look, if you do this, you're going to get kicked out,’ they won't do it.

"But anyone who's raised a teenager knows that that's not an effective strategy. Teenagers are frustrating and impulsive. And what they respond best to is what's hardest: individual attention and extra effort when they are at risk."

Bosslet says the academy opposes no-tolerance policies in schools.

As a pediatrician, Bosslet sees students vaping by sixth grade. And she says suspending these students can lead to more dangerous behavior, like vaping at home or using drugs.

"The worst thing you can do is isolate them and exclude them from activities that keep them busy and engaged and connected to their peers and to adults that they trust," Bosslet says.

She says there should be some kind of consequence for vaping: community service, additional education. But she and others say suspension isn’t the answer.

"I think school nurses see themselves as the leader on the forefront of this as a health problem," says Deb Robarge, executive director of the Indiana Association of School Nurses.

She’s also worried about how this sort of discipline can affect students. "I think we're concerned that we want them to get their education, we don't want them to lose out on opportunities they have only as a child because they've gotten caught up in this craze."

So for schools, is this a discipline issue, or a public health issue?

"I think it's somewhere in between," Robarge says. "And I've tried to kind of poll nurses across Indiana. But also, across the country … I think what a lot of school nurses are feeling like it's a mixture."

Some help for schools might be on the way. Raising the age to buy e-cigarettes and tobacco products from 18 to 21 will be at the forefront of the 2020 Indiana legislative session. A similar federal law also has been proposed.

SOURCE: Lakeshore Public Radio
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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Beech Grove native to receive Honorary Doctorate

Beech Grove, IN (November 26, 2019) IBG — Lloyd Wright, CEO and President of WFYI, will be the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters and will deliver Commencement remarks at Butler University’s 2019 Winter Commencement.

Winter Commencement will take place Friday, December 20, at 6:30 PM in Clowes Memorial Hall. About 150 students are expected to receive their diplomas.

Lloyd Butler

“In choosing honorary degree recipients and speakers, Butler selects individuals whose lives reflect our University’s core values and whose message can positively impact our students,” President James M. Danko says. “Lloyd Wright embodies not only the calculated risk-taking we encourage in our students, but our values of innovation and visionary leadership.”

Wright, who retired from WFYI in July after 30 years as President and CEO, led the station through incredible transformation and growth. He anticipated the impact that technological advances would have on the broadcast industry and embraced change, guiding the station into the era of high-definition.

Related | Beech Grove native Lloyd Wright set to retire in 2019

He was responsible for Indiana’s flagship PBS and NPR stations, which include six 24/7 broadcast services, WFYI Productions—a full-service media production facility, WFYI Learning Services and Community Engagement, Indiana Public Broadcasting News Service, and Indiana Reading and Information Services—a free service for Indiana’s print impaired.

Under Wright’s leadership, membership at WFYI increased to 25,000, and annual revenue reached a record high of $12 million. In addition to its primary content, WFYI runs PBS kids’ content on digital channel 20.2, how-to programs on 20.3, mobile content, and two digital radio stations.

Wright’s career includes more than 120 regional Emmy Awards, WFYI's physical move in 2008 to its modern facility at 1630 N. Meridian St., and three capital campaigns that raised a total of more than $34 million. Wright also served as founder and President of the WFYI Foundation.

“I’ve been a Butler University fan nearly my entire life, and WFYI has enjoyed numerous collaborations over the years,” Wright says. “I am humbled and honored to be recognized by Butler and to be associated with The Butler Way.”

A Beech Grove, Indiana native, Wright graduated from Indiana University in 1976. He started his career as Director of Instructional Broadcasting with the Indiana Department of Education. Wright then served for six years as Broadcast Operations Manager at WTTW in Chicago before returning to Indiana.

Butler’s selection of commencement speakers and honorary degree recipients is a result of a nomination process, and subsequent review and vetting process.

SOURCE: Butler University

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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Brian Bosma retiring after 2020 session

Beech Grove, IN (November 19, 2019) IBG — The longest-serving leader of the Indiana House has decided to retire after the 2020 legislative session.

Republican Speaker Brian Bosma told lawmakers Tuesday that he would continue in the powerful position that largely controls which proposals are considered until the upcoming session ends in March. Bosma said he wouldn’t seek reelection in 2020 after 34 years in the House.

Bosma presided over the House as Republicans took major steps such as creating the state’s private school voucher program, leasing the Indiana Toll Road to a private operator and adopting statewide daylight saving time.

The 62-year-old Beech Grove, Indiana native has been speaker since 2011 and also held the post in 2005-06. He says he’ll become chairman of the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee and continue working at an Indianapolis law firm.

Gov. Eric Holcomb issued the following statement about Bosma’s decision:

“So many know Brian Bosma for his contributions of unparalleled consequence at a time when our state needed strength in the Speaker’s Chair. Others know him for his incredible capacity to give to causes serving those most in need. Since the turn of this century, I’ve come to know Brian as a trusted friend, and for that reason alone, he’ll remain on my speed dial. Speaker Bosma’s the type of state leader you don’t replace, you only follow. I’m wishing Brian and Cheryl an equally personally fulfilling next chapter in life, once this one comes to a close.”

Indiana Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer also released a statement:

“Speaker Bosma’s leadership in the Statehouse has made Indiana more prosperous and improved the lives of generations of Hoosiers. When we talk about the Indiana Success Story, one constant during the decades-long turnaround for our state has been Brian Bosma. We’re now a state of balanced budgets, able to make record investments in education and infrastructure, attract jobs from all over the world, and improve the health and wellness of our citizens."

Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane had this to say:

"I want to thank Speaker Bosma for over three decades of public service. While we may not have always agreed on the issues, I have enjoyed working with him in leadership as we have always fought respectably to make the best path forward for Indiana. I wish him all the best on his future endeavors. "

Indiana House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta also issued a statement:

"A career of public service for the people of Indiana that stretches over more than 30 years is something that demands respect and appreciation. I have known Speaker Bosma since I came to the Indiana House back in 2006, and have found him to be a good friend and a worthy adversary. I can only wish him well in the years to come."

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Monday, November 18, 2019

Indiana Connection To Autopsy Concerns

Topeka, Kansas (November 18, 2019) IBG — 13 Investigates uncovered a disturbing discovery. A Kansas man with no medical license is doing business in Indiana and allowing his contractors to perform autopsies without credentials. It's all coming to light, as another state works to shut down his makeshift morgue.

For the first time, an Indiana family is sharing their shocking story about a case that's more than a little unsettling.

Inside a makeshift morgue in Topeka, Kansas, disturbing images appear. Plastic containers hold what appear to be human organs and tissue. "This is the autopsy suite," Shawn Parcells announced in a video tour of his facilities. The converted house is where he does what he calls "gross dissections."

For nearly a decade he's been performing autopsies without a license or proper medical credentials. A Kansas court has finally ordered him to stop and is now shutting down his lab. But that order only applies to the state of Kansas, and for some Indiana residents it's too late.

In a portion of the video, Parcells boasts of working with one of the top research schools in the Hoosier state. "This one is a case we did for Indiana University, a brain case," he said.

According to the Indiana University School of Medicine, the school did contract with Parcells and his company as part of a national Alzheimer’s Disease study. Assistant Director at IU School of Medicine, Kati Duffey, told 13 Investigates it was for a limited number of instances, and that the school has been in touch with authorities.

In a statement Duffey wrote:

“Due to confidentiality, we cannot discuss individuals or organ donors who participate in research. We are aware of the legal proceedings taking place in Kansas. We take seriously the responsibility donors and their families place in us.”

And it’s not just tissue samples from Indiana causing concerns here in Indiana. 13 Investigates confirmed Parcells company has also conducted autopsies in Indiana. "As far as Indianapolis is concerned, I think we only had two cases. ...," Parcells said.

Now for the first time, the family of one of those cases is speaking publicly. "It was shocking at first. What in the world did this guy just do to my family?" Nicole Cash said. Cash is referring to the autopsy performed on her grandmother, Dollie Lee Kinder.

Cash is angry after learning the man whose company her family hired to do the autopsy had no credentials to handle her grandmother's remains. "He is not who he says he is," she said.

Cash said the Kinder family found Parcell's company, National Autopsy Services, on the internet a day after Kinder died in a Beech Grove nursing home.

Kinder suffered from dementia but her family said her death came unexpectedly. National Autopsy Services of Topeka, Kansas touted "unbiased experts" in "forensic and legal medicine." So Kinder's family signed a contract and paid $3,600 to get the autopsy done within three days.

Little & Sons Funeral Home in Beech Grove confirmed to 13 Investigates that the autopsy was performed at one of its Indianapolis facilities.

"I'm very angry because I feel like this man should have been stopped a long time ago," Cash said referring to several stories that have been done across the country regarding Parcells. CNN first uncovered Parcells was lacking credentials when he acted as a spokesman, detailing the injuries suffered by police shooting victim, Michael Brown.

In Indiana, you must be a board certified pathologist to perform an autopsy. Court records in Kansas show Parcells has never been a licensed doctor, pathologist, medical examiner or physician assistant.

A spokeswoman with the funeral home said no one checked credentials for the autopsy because it was a "private contract" and that the funeral home merely "provided space."

In a statement, the spokeswoman said:

"We sympathize with the (Kinder) family. Shawn Parcells is not and has never been employed by Little & Sons or any Dignity Memorial location."

Autopsies, if requested by the family, are arranged individually between the family and a pathologist and are performed under a separate contract, entirely independent of the funeral home." Now new questions are being raised about Parcells and his business practices. Cash caught up with him outside of a Kansas courthouse.

"Shawn, my name is Nicole," she said. "You did an autopsy on my grandmother, Dollie Kinder in Indianapolis. We have to have my grandmother's casket opened up because we don't even know if you just scammed us for the money or if you actually performed an autopsy on my grandmother.

What do you have to say right now?" "An autopsy was done, there was no scam," Parcells responded. But Parcells later told 13 Investigates, there was no autopsy of Kinder.

He claimed he hired a third party to remove only tissue and portions of Kinder's brain, but admitted the person who did the work was not a licensed doctor nor pathologist. "No, he's a surgical technician," Parcells said.

Parcells said he's working to get the Kinder family answers and never intended for anyone to be hurt. "He should be criminally charged and put into prison,"Cash said. "You don't think someone so cold hearted could do something like this to grieving families?"

The director of the Indiana Coroner's Training Board told 13 Investigates it is against the law for anyone other than a board certified pathologist to do an autopsy in Indiana.

Cash said she has reported Parcells to the Attorney General's Office. No word tonight on what action is being taken. Under the Kansas court order, Parcells must turn over all of the tissue from his lab to the Kansas Department of Health.

Meanwhile Cash and her family want a full review of Kidner's case.


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Friday, November 15, 2019

Beech Grove works to keeps kids safe at school

Beech Grove, IN (November 15, 2019) IBG — School districts in Indiana are pumping millions of dollars towards safety. A lot of that money goes towards securing a building to keep kids safe once they are inside. Administrators are working before the bell rings too.

"At the end of the day, schools are a vulnerable place," said Chase Lyday, president of the Indiana School Resource Officers Association.

School resource officers like Lyday monitor hallways all day to secure the campus once class starts. Moments like what happened this week at a Southern California school make him take a second look.

"Certainly sad when a student slips through the cracks. Our goal is to be as proactive and sensitive to kids’ needs," Lyday said.

Lyday said SROs focus on what is happening outside the school as well as inside.

"Parking lot patrols, we have officers even from nearby jurisdictions that drive by pay attention what is going on," he said.

Beech Grove

"It is impossible to prevent you know something, an incident but at least let’s try to minimize it so we worked very hard on that," said Paul Kaiser, Superintendent of Beech Grove Schools.

Beech Grove also wants to hire more SROs so that there can be one at the middle school and high school. They plan to put forth a referendum next year.

"You have to do everything you can ahead of time by working with kids and talking to kids," he said.

The Indiana Department of Education recently held training for a School Safety Specialist Academy. Administrators learned best practices for security. Right now, there are more than 3,000 school safety specialists in the state.

SOURCE: Fox 59

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Thursday, November 7, 2019

Steve McQueen’s Great Escape

Beech Grove, IN (November 7, 2019) IBG — There was the broken home. The violence, the neglect, the desertion: born in Beech Grove, Indiana, the young Terence Steven McQueen shuffled between his native Indiana and Missouri, and eventually California, passing from one home to another.

The child knew mostly misery. But he had been given something.

Somewhere, someone decided that McQueen needed to be baptized Catholic just as his mother had been before him. In the biographies this fact is mentioned in passing, understandably perhaps, as it appeared to have made little difference to the boy, the adolescent, and, later, the man. But the gift did matter.

Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair, 1968.

What the Hollywood star’s biographers also sidestep is his ending. In a strange way McQueen’s final earthly moments make sense of all the rest.

In that final “performance,” McQueen played a role much older than any he had acted on the Silver Screen, and, for once, it really was a matter of life and death.

But we’ll come to that.

What had passed for childhood soon he turned into a troubled youth. With no home, McQueen ended up on the streets, until a court sent him to one that was there to reform boys like him. The Boys Republic was to be the start of the end of childhood; for the young McQueen it was also the beginning of a mistrust of institutions — the image of authority had long since been fractured for this child from a broken home. It appeared to many that the only thing McQueen had been given in life was resentment.

From one institution to another he moved. Before living the life of a drifter and a vagrant. An angry young man can always find a home, however, in any military, and the United States Marine Corps was ready to receive a world-weary 17-year-old McQueen. It was 1947 and he would serve three years. Too early for Korea, he saw no combat, yet his time in the Marines was suspected of later killing him. Over 30 years on, he was diagnosed with a disease that was believed to have its origin through in the then routine removal of asbestos during a military chore.

He didn’t know it then, but the clock had begun ticking for Steve McQueen, curiously just as his luck was about to change.

From 1952 onwards, thanks to the G.I. Bill, McQueen set out to become an actor. For many years his desire for his acting talent to be recognized was more aspirational than real. Finally, however, six years later things began to shift. From 1958 to 1968, at rapid speed, McQueen ascended from bit-part player to television star, from supporting actor to lead, from movie star to superstar.

By the late 1960s, all Hollywood bowed before him; McQueen had become one of its new kings. By then, this King of Cool had touched the zeitgeist, or it had touched him, and thereafter bestowed upon him a glittering kingdom of tinsel. That was only one side of the story though.

There was another, darker side to this Hollywood luminary. This was not so surprising, given that there was very little light and much darkness at the heart of the world he inhabited. Perhaps inevitably, that darkness found its way into a man unable to resist its blandishments and allures. The public ascent had seemed rapid and assured; the private descent was to be equally so.

By the mid-1970's, there was a trail of broken marriages and emotional debris, Charles Manson-inspired death threats and drug busts, false starts professionally, and a reputation he didn’t need in Hollywood. That movie town no longer seemed to need this increasingly temperamental star. The movie business decided to move on. By then, McQueen was an actor in his 40's, with his looks fading as, inevitably, younger, hungrier actors jostled for his much-coveted crown. As the lights over Hollywood began to dim, it seemed that a king was being sent into exile.

His final cinematic outing was Tom Horn (1980). It was about a frontiersman finally cornered by modernity and the relentless march of time, facing death by hanging. As it happened, when Tom Horn was being made, having by then physically experienced the first signs of what was coming next, namely cancer, its star was equally cornered. Thereafter, McQueen’s life was hanging by an ever more slender thread.

Unexpectedly, as the end came into sight McQueen raised his gaze. When at the height of his former pomp, he had been asked by an interviewer what he believed in, the actor had declared: himself. Now, on learning that that same frail self was falling apart, another belief stepped in. For many years, McQueen had known a man called Sammy Mason. This man was as different as could be from the movie star and his circle. He was a family man, good at his profession and liked by his fellow workers, and, more important still, a Christian. One day the man who wore the tarnished crown of movie-stardom and who had ruled supreme in that fake empire, asked his friend what it was that seemed to hold him together.

But, by now, the clock began to strike as McQueen went to Mexico looking for a miracle cure to the cancer that was killing him. He didn’t find one.

By then, however, if only tentatively, McQueen had found something — or Someone — else. He asked to see the Evangelist Billy Graham. The movie star told the older man that he was now a Christian. He believed no longer in himself but in God’s only-begotten Son. They prayed together. Touched by the younger man’s obvious sincerity, Graham handed him his Bible.

Shortly before he died, McQueen said, “My only regret in life is that I was not able to tell people about what Christ did for me.”

On Nov. 7, 1980, the final chimes sounded; the race was run: Steve McQueen was dead.

On his coffin was laid the Bible that had been given to McQueen just days previously.

It was open at the following verse: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, so that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

SOURCE: National Catholic Register
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Siblings continue strong bond as religious sisters

Beech Grove, IN (November 7, 2019) IBG — Benedictine Sisters Jill and Susan Reuber have often shared the same path in life, but their roads to their religious vocations took different turns. They were born within two minutes of each other, part of triplets with their brother Eric.

Growing up, the sisters shared a bedroom and a car, became best friends and did many of the same activities — from playing in their high school marching band to working together at Dairy Queen. One of the few places where they were separated growing up was during Mass at their parish church.

“Our parents didn’t let us sit next to each other,” Sister Jill told The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. “Probably because they thought we would talk to each other,” Sister Susan said. “Or hit each other,” Sister Jill added, smiling.

Benedictine Sisters Susan and Jill Reuber, pictured in an undated photo in Indianapolis 
(CNS photo/John Shaughnessy, The Criterion)

Yet despite this remarkable closeness, Susan had a quick, emphatic reaction years later when older sister Jill chose to make her vows as a Sister of St. Benedict. “I wasn’t going to do what Jill did,” she said forcefully.

That response makes both sisters smile at the same time.

So begins the story of how these two 39-year-old sisters are not only connected by blood and love, but now also by their faith and shared vows as Benedictine sisters. Sister Jill’s journey to religious life took its defining turn when she was a student at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College in St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana.

As a freshman and sophomore, she spent her spring breaks on mission trips to Nazareth Farm, a Catholic community in rural West Virginia. She was studying elementary education, and as a freshman wanted “to teach in the Appalachian Mountains,” she said.

“In my second year there, we prayed together in the mornings and the evenings. That’s where I found I wanted that prayer life, that community life,” Sister Jill said. “That’s when I started discerning that (religious life) is what I wanted to do. I also wanted God to give me a lightning bolt, to tell me what to do.”

There was just one problem with that lightning bolt plan. “During one Mass at camp, the priest’s whole homily was that God doesn’t give lightning bolts,” Sister Jill said.

By her senior year, she started visiting the Benedictine sisters’ community at Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand, Indiana, in the Evansville Diocese. “I fell in love with prayer, community and the way the sisters loved each other.”

Following her college graduation, she entered the Benedictine community in Ferdinand in August 2003 and professed her final vows in 2011. She is now the community’s vocation director, seeking to lead other women to the life she loves. It’s the life she wanted, but one Susan “wanted nothing to do with it.”

“When Jill was discerning in college, she was right that I didn’t want anything to do with it,” said Sister Susan, a 2003 graduate of Franklin College in Franklin, Indiana. “I wanted my own car, my own house and my own paycheck. But deep down, I didn’t want to do what Jill was doing. In college, for the first time, we really had our own identity.”

After graduation, she began a career in education, joining Roncalli High School in Indianapolis as an English teacher in her second year. “It was my dream job — teaching in a Catholic school, sharing my faith with my students,” she said. “Fast forward eight years to 2011. I’m starting to think something is missing in my life. I’m at school way too much.”

Right then, she gets a message from Benedictine Sister Michelle Sinkhorn — vocation director for the Ferdinand community at the time — inviting her to a “Come and See” weekend among the sisters.

“I didn’t know if I wanted to open that door,” Sister Susan recalled. “I talked to Jill, and she convinced me to come, that we could hang out for the weekend. In my mind, I was just going to see Jill.”

Then a series of lightning bolts hit, starting on that weekend.

“God opened my heart and said, ‘Why aren’t you pursuing this?'” Sister Susan recalled. “I saw how happy Jill is, and how happy the sisters are. At the end of the weekend, I sat down with Sister Michelle. I owned a house in Beech Grove, and Sister said, ‘Why don’t you visit the sisters at Our Lady of Grace Monastery there?'”

“The drive home was the longest two and a half hour drive I had ever made in my life. I’m going to have to quit my job and sell my house,” she continued. “Then at Roncalli, (Benedictine) Sister Anne Frederick handed me a brochure for their ‘Come and See’ weekend at Our Lady of Grace. She didn’t even know I had gone to Ferdinand. I saw that as a sign from the Holy Spirit that I should come here.”

She went to Our Lady of Grace for the weekend, thinking “I have to find something I hate about the place so I could be done with it.” She had a different feeling by the end of the weekend. When it was time leave, Sister Susan said, “I didn’t find anything I didn’t like. I fell in love with the sisters. What I was missing in my life was community.”

She entered the Benedictine community at Beech Grove in September 2012 and professed her final vows this past June. She also has returned to Roncalli as a teacher. Sharing the same vows has added another dimension to the siblings’ closeness. Living their vows also has brought them to a deeper relationship with God.

SOURCE: Catholic Philly

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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Derailed: Talgo trains in limbo at Amtrak facility

Beech Grove, IN (November 6, 2019) IBG — Two massive brick warehouses have been a part of the landscape for more than a century. One of the buildings has a concrete sign that reads 1907. The other reads 1910. Both belong to Amtrak, which maintains its fleet here.

Most of the trains that come into this facility don't stay long. The big silver cars Amtrak is known for make a stop here, get repaired and return to service.

But in the front of the rail yard, there are two trains that never move.

Workers at the Beech Grove Amtrak facility pass these trains every day as they head past the front gate. They’re right next to the parking lot, just on the other side of a chain link fence. Weeds are growing up through the gravel next to their wheels. But they look different from the other trains there — they’re shiny white with a bright red stripe.

These are the trains the state of Wisconsin paid for, and at one point intended to run. But they never ran in Wisconsin, or anywhere.

A Long Time Coming

Before Gov. Scott Walker successfully blocked the high-speed rail line that would have connected Madison to Milwaukee in 2010, Wisconsin bought two trains from a Spanish company named Talgo.

The story of these trains is messy. And in a way, they're the physical reminder of the debate Wisconsin had almost a decade ago. While it's hard to say exactly when that story began, you could make an argument that it started when Wisconsin became a state in 1848.

The people who founded the state felt strongly about what government should and shouldn't do, and they spelled that out in the Wisconsin Constitution. One of the things they didn’t want Wisconsin to get into was borrowing money to build infrastructure, like roads and bridges.

Other states had gotten into money trouble by borrowing too much, and Wisconsin's framers were going to nip that in the bud. But times changed, and so did peoples' expectations for government. Over the years, voters amended the Wisconsin Constitution to allow borrowing for highways, forests, airports, port facilities and the like.

But even up until just a few decades ago there was one thing the state of Wisconsin couldn’t borrow for: railroads. And in 1989, then-Democratic state Sen. Joe Czarnezki of Milwaukee wanted to change that.

He introduced a proposal to end Wisconsin's 141-year-old ban on borrowing for railroads. And in 1992, voters passed it. "I don't know if we were visionaries, but it certainly was something where we were looking toward the future," Czarnezki said.

One year later, then-state Rep. Spencer Black, a Madison Democrat, wanted to put this borrowing power to use. He sponsored a plan that would give the state the power to borrow up to $50 million for railroads.

"I was concerned about transportation policies," Black said. "I felt it was too oriented toward building large new highways. It was neglecting nonautomotive transportation such as transit and rail transit."

To increase the chances of it passing, Black got it added to the state budget. The story of the day the Legislature voted on that budget is particularly interesting in the grand scheme of the high-speed rail saga. On that same day, according to the official Assembly journal from July 16, 1993, a 25-year-old lawmaker was sworn in. He had just won a special election for an open Assembly seat in the Milwaukee suburbs.

His name: Scott Walker, the future governor who would one day vow to kill Wisconsin's high-speed rail line. And on Walker's very first day in office, he got to vote on the budget.

And Walker voted "yes" — including on the $50 million in railroad bonding.

With Walker's help, the budget bill passed and Wisconsin could get into the railroad business.

A Major New Start

It would be 16 years before Wisconsin state government would decide to use this power.

After President Barack Obama signed the federal stimulus bill in early 2009, it looked like high-speed rail was about to take off in the United States. The stimulus set aside $8 billion for high-speed rail, and states like Wisconsin were about to compete for pieces of it.

And Wisconsin was getting ready for this rail boom.

On July 17, 2009, Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle announced the state was making a deal with a Spanish train manufacturer called Talgo. "Today is a day that I believe we mark a major new start for transportation in the Midwest and in the United States," Doyle said.

Doyle said Talgo would open a manufacturing facility in Wisconsin and build two brand-new train sets for the state. He described it as a historic moment, imagining a future where passenger rail travel would thrive in the Midwest, with Wisconsin at the center of it.

Talgo, which had long dreamed of becoming big in the U.S., was also celebrating that day. "We have been patient," said Jose Maria Oriol, whose great-grandfather founded the company. "And now we can say that the dream in the Midwest (has) become a true reality."

Doyle's Secretary of the state Department of Transportation Frank Busalacchi was also there that day. Busalacchi had signed the contract with Talgo just days earlier. He said he helped design the trains. "I was able to pick the colors and I picked white with red trim, the Badger colors," he said. "And they were absolutely stunning."

But before the deal could be finalized, it had to be voted on by members of the state Legislature’s budget committee, the Joint Committee on Finance. It would be the first time Democrats and Republicans would debate this issue in public.

The Debate Begins

In 2009, Democrats ran the budget committee, just like they ran everything else in state government, so there was little doubt that the Talgo deal would pass.

But Republicans on this committee had a huge problem with the contract, namely the way it was reached by Busalacchi and Doyle.

From a procedural standpoint, there are a couple of ways the state can seek bids on a project like this.

One option is to open it up to private businesses to bid on through what's known as a "request for proposal," or RFP. The process for an RFP can be slow, but the idea is that it helps the state get the best bang for its buck. Other times, the state issues what's known as a "request for information," or RFI. While completely legal in Wisconsin, the requirements for an RFI are a little more relaxed, and the process is faster.

In the case of the Talgo deal, the Doyle administration chose an RFI. They started the process on Feb. 6, 2009, and Talgo was the only company that said it was interested.

Republicans on the budget committee, like Republican Rep. Robin Vos of Rochester, were livid about this.

"I looked on Wikipedia for what the definition of sweetheart deal is," Vos said. "It's a term used to describe an abnormally favorable arrangement. And it says sometimes it involves government officials and hints at the presence of corruption ... I cannot imagine a better definition in the state of Wisconsin for a sweetheart deal than the one you are presenting to us today."

But, Vos and his fellow Republicans were in no position to stop this train in 2009, so the Talgo deal passed on an 11-4 party-line vote. Wisconsin could officially use the nearly $50 million in rail bonding to build the Talgo trains in Wisconsin.

The End Of The Line

This wouldn’t be the only time the Talgo deal needed the Legislature’s approval — and in 2012, when it did — the political circumstances couldn’t have been more different. Walker had been governor for more than a year, and the Legislature was more Republican than it had been in decades.

Vos, the state representative who was critical of the Talgo deal back in 2009, was now the chair of the budget committee, and Republicans had a 12-4 majority.

On March 14, 2012, the DOT asked the budget committee for $2.5 million toward a permanent maintenance facility for Wisconsin's Talgo trains. This was always part of the deal with Talgo.

Technically speaking, Walker's DOT was asking the budget committee to vote "yes" at this meeting, because it had to. Wisconsin had a contract with Talgo and that contract included this maintenance facility.

"We had a contract," said Mark Gottlieb, Walker's DOT secretary at the time. "It was the administration’s job, in my opinion, to execute that contract and fulfill the state's obligation on it unless, and until, the Legislature told us that they were going to exercise their authority not to appropriate the money."

In other words, the Walker administration would keep its end of the Talgo deal unless the Legislature decided to break it. By this time, the trains themselves were just about ready, but the rail line between Madison and Milwaukee was already dead.

Wisconsin's Talgo trains in the process of being built. Photos courtesy of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation

That meant Talgo's trains would only ever run on the existing Amtrak Hiawatha line between Milwaukee and Chicago, which was one of the busiest routes in the country.

According to a DOT study, that inflated the costs. It found that running and maintaining two new Talgo trains from Milwaukee to Chicago would cost $10 million more each year than keeping the state's old Amtrak trains.

Republican lawmakers, like Vos, had heard enough.

"I do not believe that it is my responsibility to just turn a blind eye," Vos said. "It's not my job to fulfill a bad contract, to do something that is a bad decision for the state."

Going Nowhere In Beech Grove

According to court documents, the trains have been at the Beech Grove Amtrak facility in Indiana since the spring of 2014. Talgo is paying to store them there until they are sold or leased.

There is a chance these two trains could be sent to run on the Amtrak Cascades line through Washington and Oregon. These were not the only trains Talgo built in Milwaukee — the company also built two other identical sets to run in Washington and Oregon, which have been in use there since 2013.

But the Wisconsin Talgo trains have never run, and while they've been sitting in Beech Grove, safety regulations have changed. The Oregon Talgo trains are exempt from the new safety standards because they were already running. But the Wisconsin Talgos now require a waiver from the Federal Railroad Administration.

The FRA granted Amtrak that waiver in November 2018, but Amtrak still hasn’t decided if it will actually use the Wisconsin Talgo trains.

And until something changes, Wisconsin’s trains are still going nowhere.

SOURCE: Wisconsin Public Radio

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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Halloween 2019: Trick or Treat Times

Beech Grove, IN (October 29, 2019) IBG — Your Halloween candy supply is looking plentiful, you've assembled the family costumes, and all the Halloween decorations are placed accordingly—you're officially ready for Halloween. With the prospect of sweet treats and (possibly) an extended bedtime, we know that your little ones are eager to put on their kids' costumes too.

But when it comes to planning your Halloween activities, it can all start to feel like a bunch of hocus pocus, especially since parents all seem to end up asking each other, "What time does trick-or-treating start?"

Whether you're taking your dressed-up crew out around the neighborhood or staying home to greet eager guys and ghouls, it's important to know when you should be on duty during the evening.

RELATED | Marion County Halloween Safety Map

Below are the times we have for Halloween night, Thursday, October. 31. We will continue to update the list as more become available.

Marion County - October 31 
  • Indianapolis: 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. 
  • Beech Grove: 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. 
  • Lawrence: 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. 
  • Southport: 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. 
  • Speedway: 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. 
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Locations:

Indianapolis Fire Department Locations:

And no matter what time you and your family set out to trick-or-treat, it's important to review safety guidelines with your children ahead of time. To ensure your night is spook-tacular and fun, follow these guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Swords, knives, and other costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible. Avoid trick-or-treating alone. 
  • Walk in groups or with a trusted adult. Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you. 
  • Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. Limit the number of treats you eat. 
  • Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you. WALK and don’t run from house to house. 
  • Always test make-up in a small area first. Remove it before bedtime to prevent possible skin and eye irritation. 
  • Look both ways before crossing the street. Use crosswalks wherever possible. 
  • Lower your risk for serious eye injury by not wearing decorative contact lenses. 
  • Only walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe. 
  • Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls. 
  • Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats made by strangers. 
  • Enter homes only if you’re with a trusted adult. Only visit well-lit houses. Never accept rides from strangers. 
  • Never walk near lit candles or luminaries. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.

But you can usually expect candy-hungry youngsters—especially toddlers—to show up at your door as soon as the sun begins to set, or even earlier. (Think between 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.) Teens and tweens will likely wrap up their door-to-door visits around 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., or the time stated by your local curfew laws.

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Sunday, October 27, 2019

Marion County Halloween Safety Map

Beech Grove, IN (October 27, 2019) IBG — There are nearly 10,000 sex offenders in the state of Indiana and more than 2,300 registered sex and violent offenders living in Marion County. We have inserted an interactive map of registered sex offenders throughout the State to help you to be aware of what is in your neighborhood.

The Indiana Sheriffs' Association also maintains an interactive sex and violent offender registry, including a map tool which allows you to search within a 2-mile radius of your house for listed offenders. The Indiana Sheriffs' Association also maintains an interactive sex and violent offender registry, including a map tool which allows you to search within a 2-mile radius of your house for listed offenders.

You can search Indiana's Sex Offender Registry and view the map here: iCrimeWatch.net

To search for offenders in your area, select your county from the map shown at the link above. After accepting the terms and conditions, click the "Search for Offenders in Your Area" button in the top left-hand corner of the screen.

TO VIEW A MAP: Enter your address, city and ZIP code into the forms presented. The website will create a map of all registered sex and violent offenders within a radius of .25-2 miles of your area, depending upon your settings. Offenders are listed by name and with photo and offense information as available.

TO VIEW A LIST: In the "Offender Search" screen, you can also generate a list of all sex and violent offenders in your city. Simply click the "City" tab and enter the name of the city you would like to search. Again, offenders are listed by name and with photo and offense information as available. The database also allows for searches of individual offenders by first or last name.

In Marion County, sex offenders are required to hang a sign on their front door, turn off the lights and not pass out any candy.

"We require who we're watching to stay at their homes, unless they are pre-approved to go to work. We have them stay in their homes, shut off their lights in front of their house and have a sign up that they aren't go to participate in Halloween this year," said Drew Adams, District Supervisor, Dept. of Corrections.

OUR QUICK SEARCH: You can also use our interactive map below to see how many predators are in your area. This interactive map is Statewide. To zoom in or out, use the + or - feature at the bottom right of the map. Once you zoom, you are able to click on a dot and an information window will pop out. You can also click on satellite on the top left that shows houses and streets.

Halloween is just around the corner and kids will be out in force, even though the weather may not cooperate, as a community, lets keep our precious ones safe.

SOURCE: Indiana Sheriffs Association

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Monday, October 21, 2019

Trial begins for Beech Grove man facing felonies

Beech Grove, IN (October 21, 2019) — Over the summer, a woman who lived in a Greenwood apartment complex was grazed with a bullet when a drug deal went wrong. The marijuana-sale-turned-robbery that led to her injury was arranged via a social media application and happened in early July, police said.

The Beech Grove man accused of shooting at the ceiling in the botched drug deal and causing the injuries to the woman is facing a jury trial this week.

Brandon D. Saloane’s trial starts Tuesday in the Johnson County Circuit Court. He is facing four felony charges from the events that happened on July 4. The trial is expected to last two to three days. Charges include two level 3 felonies of armed robbery and robbery, a level 4 felony of unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon and a level 6 felony of battery with moderate bodily injury.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Daylon Welliver will argue the case and is expecting to call at least six witnesses, although more could be called for the prosecution’s case, he said. Saloane has opted to represent himself in the proceedings, Welliver said.

RELATED | Beech Grove man arrested on felony charges

The charges and trial stem from the July 4 robbery in the 900 block of Coventry Court, which is in an apartment complex west of U.S. 31, between Fry Road and County Line Road in Greenwood.

The resident of the apartment told police he had received a message from a woman on Snapchat who was wanting to buy marijuana, according to a probable cause affidavit. Snapchat is a cell phone application where messages and photos are only available to users for short periods of time.

A man was going to come to the Greenwood apartment to pay for the marijuana, according to court documents. Saloane arrived and paid the resident $180 in cash and, in return, was given marijuana. Saloane used the restroom, then shoved a gun into the resident’s side and told him to give him “everything,” court documents said.

A female resident of the apartment was hit in the face with the gun, then Saloane fired the gun at the ceiling, or it went off while he was hitting her. The bullet grazed her cheek, and she and the male resident fled the apartment and called 911, a Greenwood police report said.

While they were waiting for police outside, they saw the robber, later identified as Saloane, leave the apartment with items shoved up his shirt, the report said. They later determined he had taken $2,000 and about a quarter of a pound of marijuana, police said.

The victim was taken to Community Hospital South, where she received eight stitches in her cheek. The next day, police learned about a possible suspect when a woman reported to police she had set up the drug deal and Saloane had stolen her gun.

The woman who set up the drug deal had met Saloane about a month earlier, and the two smoked weed together, she told police. She said she arranged for Saloane to buy the marijuana, but he then took her handgun and robbed the people he was supposed to be purchasing marijuana from, she told police.

Saloane was arrested after the robbery at an apartment in Beech Grove, and police found marijuana and digital scales in the apartment and his vehicle, the report said. He told detectives he had thrown the gun in a river because he did not want his parole officer to find it, court documents said.

Saloane had been on parole for two attempted robbery convictions in Hendricks County, and a drug possession conviction in Marion County in 2014. He was sentenced to more than five years in prison for those convictions.

SOURCE: Daily Journal

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Friday, October 18, 2019

Amtrak rolls out more comfortable cars

Beech Grove, IN (October 18, 2019) — If you haven’t traveled by train in a while, Amtrak is summoning you to a new level of comfort on the rails.

For coach trips on Midwestern routes, Amtrak is introducing refurbished Horizon cars that make some riders mistakenly think they’re in business class. From the carpets on up to leatherette seats that promise more lumbar support, it’s an overhaul of cars that have been around since the 1980s. “These cars are workhorses. You’ll find them all over the Midwest,” said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari.

Amtrak Executive Vice President Roger Harris in a refurbished Horizon coach used in the Midwest.

On overnight runs to the East Coast, Amtrak is now using remodeled coach cars, also dating from the 1980s, with plusher reclining seats, suitable for sleeping on the cheap. Called Amfleet II, they still have legroom that puts airlines to shame. “This is like first class but it’s coach,” said Roger Harris, executive vice president at Amtrak.

For those who book the sleepers, the railroad is getting a new fleet with more room for luggage, softer linens, a sturdier pullout table and more power outlets.

The smallest accommodation, the roomette, no longer has a toilet in the compartment in the new Viewliner II railcars. Amtrak executives said passengers never liked the in-room toilet anyway because it took up precious space and your traveling companion had to scram if you wanted privacy.

The new cars have shared bathrooms and shower facilities, but each room still has a sink that flips out of view when you don’t need it.

Reclining seats in Amtrak’s refurbished Amfleet II coach cars available for long-distance runs.

Amtrak officials showed off the cars Wednesday as centerpieces of new efforts to boost ridership. For routes serving Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Missouri, the national passenger railroad works in close partnership with state transportation agencies, which fund 75 percent of the $3 million cost for the new and improved equipment.

Harris said the cars will make Amtrak more competitive both on long-distance and short haul routes already in demand in the Midwest, such as Hiawatha Service from Chicago-to-Milwaukee and Wolverine Service from Chicago-to-Detroit/Pontiac.

He also said the public is gravitating to rail travel as a more relaxed and environmentally responsible way to get around. “I think the trend has definitely caught hold more in Europe, but we’re seeing it today also with customers in congested urban areas [and] with younger customers,” Harris said.

Overall Amtrak ridership was up about 1 million last year to 33 million people, he said.

Magliari said the Midwest routes also have gotten more popular, especially with service to college towns as debt-conscious students decide to forgo a car.

The refurbished coach cars are being added to Midwest trains through next spring, while the overnight routes to the East Coast all will have them by yearend, Amtrak officials said. The work is being done at Amtrak facilities in Chicago, Beech Grove, Indiana, and at a contractor in West Quincy, Missouri, Magliari said.

The new Viewliner II’s are made by CAF, a firm headquartered in Spain and with U.S. manufacturing in Elmira, New York. Larry Chestler, vice president for long distance service at Amtrak, said two of 25 cars have been delivered, with the rest due to arrive in 2020.

SOURCE: Chicago Sun Times

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Thursday, October 17, 2019

Milestone Contractors building new headquarters

Beech Grove, IN (October 17, 2019) — An Indianapolis-based contracting and construction firm plans to spend $11 million to build a new headquarters and maintenance hub in Beech Grove.

Milestone Contractors LP received approval Wednesday for incentives from the city of Indianapolis tied to an effort to build a 25,000-square-foot office building and 52,000-square-foot garage near South Emerson Avenue and Subway Street. There would also be infrastructure improvements to the site as part of the development.

The company, a subsidiary of Indianapolis-based The Heritage Group, often works as a contractor on road projects for local governments and the Indiana Department of Transportation. Its current headquarters is on the south side, at 5950 S. Belmont Ave., but it has multiple satellite offices in Indianapolis and the rest of the state.

RELATED | Brownfield property group purchases site

The addresses listed on documents filed with the city are 2851, 2900 and 2961 Connection Ave. and 3101 S. Emerson Ave. None of the addresses are yet listed as owned by the company, according to the Marion County Assessor’s office, though they could be under contract.

General location of Milestone's new headquarters

Milestone asked the city for a five-year property tax abatement for the project. It said it expects to create 25 new jobs and retain 110 existing workers as a direct result of the project.

According to city documents, the abatement should save the company an estimated $778,195 in property taxes over the five-year period, but it would still pay $445,092 in taxes relative to the new investment. The properties are currently tax-exempt.

Once the abatement period concludes, Milestone would pay about $246,657 annually in real property taxes.

A staff report from the city’s Department of Metropolitan Development indicates the 25 new jobs created would pay an average of $37.10 per hour. The average wage for the 110 retained positions is about $36.85 per hour.

Rick Skirvin, Beech Grove Mayoral Candidate had this to say, "I would like to Welcome Milestone to Beech Grove and thank them for choosing our city to grow in."

The incentives request, which city staff recommended for approval, was OK’d by the Metropolitan Development Commission. The plan also requires final approval from Beech Grove.

SOURCE: Indianapolis Business Journal

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Saturday, October 12, 2019

Northern Tool + Equipment lands in Beech Grove

Beech Grove, IN (October 12, 2019) — A growing tool and equipment retailer with more than 100 stores in 21 states is entering Indiana with two Indianapolis area stores that are set to open October 31st.

Burnsville, Minnesota-based retailer Northern Tool + Equipment is targeting busy retail areas near Interstate 465 on the south and north sides of the cities with the new stores. One is at at 5236 Victory Drive in Beech Grove, is just south of I-465 and east of Emerson Avenue. The other one is at 9345 Waldemar Road, just west of Michigan Road and south of I-465, near the Pyramids office complex.

Northern Tool + Equipment at 5236 Victory Drive in Beech Grove 
Photo: Invisible Beech Grove

The stores will open in newly constructed buildings of more than 22,000 square feet each and will employ 20 people apiece, the company said.

“Indianapolis is a perfect market for our business given the city’s size, its vibrant Midwest economy and its strong concentration of our core customers of both homeowners and business owners,” Vice President of Sales and Marketing Wade Mattson said in a written statement.

Mattson said the company also was attracted to Indianapolis because of the city’s “larger-than-average distribution and warehousing sector, along with its unique convergence of five interstate highway corridors.”

Northern Tool + Equipment at 5236 Victory Drive in Beech Grove 
 Photo: Invisible Beech Grove

The company said it plans to open additional stores in Indiana over time, but hasn’t determined how many or how soon.

Northern Tool + Equipment, founded by Don Kotula, is a family-owned company that opened its first store in Burnsville in 1981. Today, the company has more than 105 stores, most of them in the eastern half of the country, with Indiana becoming its 22nd state.

The company is in expansion mode. It recently opened stores in O’Fallon, Illinois; Metairie, Louisiana; and Abilene and San Antonio, Texas. Texas is by far its busiest market with 29 stores, followed by Florida with 13 and Minnesota with 10.

Geared towards both construction professionals and do-it-yourself customers, Northern Tool + Equipment sells everything from hand tools and power tools to pressure washers, semi trailer accessories and metal fabrication equipment. The stores also offer a parts, service and repair department.

The stores carry more over 9,000 products and more than 1,500 types of parts.

Northern Tool + Equipment at 5236 Victory Drive in Beech Grove 
 Photo: Invisible Beech Grove

The company, which manufactures its own North Star line of pressure washers, generators and compressors, has estimated annual revenue of nearly $1.5 billion.

Real estate broker Gary Perel, a principal at Indianapolis-based ALO Property Group LLC, said Northern Tool + Equipment’s likely competitors include places like Tractor Supply, Lowe’s and Home Depot.

Real estate is booming in Indianapolis, Perel said, including both new construction and redevelopment projects—so it makes sense that a new retailer serving that market has come to town. “I think where you’ve got residential growth, you’ve certainly got increasing demand for that type of product.”

Beech Grove Store Job Openings HERE
Beech Grove Store Information HERE


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Thursday, October 10, 2019

Jostens 2020 Photo Contest

Beech Grove, IN (October 10, 2019) — Attention Middle School, Junior High School and High School students. Get those photos ready and get them to Jostens for your chance at a cash prize and more in the 2020 Photo Contest.

Upload photos any time between 11:00 a.m. Pacific Time on Tuesday, October 1, 2019 – through 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on Sunday, March 1, 2020 (“Entry Period”). A team of industry professionals will judge all photo submissions to select the winners of the Jostens Photo Contest. Winners, Finalists, and Honorable Mentions will be announced in April.

To be eligible for the contest, entrants must be a legal resident of the fifty United States, the District of Columbia, or a legal resident of the provinces or territories of Canada (excluding Quebec) AND a current middle school, junior high school or high school student. All entrants must also be 13 years of age or older.

Each individual photo will need its own model release form signed by all individuals who are personally and substantially identifiable in the photo (including crowds, landscapes and illustrations). Photos submitted without a completed model release will not be accepted in the competition.

More information at Jostens Photo Contest