ROCHESTER — Plans for a big trial in a little courtroom are complicating things in Rochester ahead of the trial of Alyssa Shepherd.
Shepherd faces five charges in the deaths of three children who died at a bus stop along SR 25 near Talma a year ago after she struck four children who were attempting to board a school bus. The case gained national attention and put a spotlight on motorists who disregard school bus stop arms.
InkFreeNews learned two weeks ago of some apparent effort to limit the number of media and members of the public in the courtroom because of seating limitations in the courtroom — there’s only room for about 25 people other than court staff and the jury.
One of our reporters was told Thursday that the number of reporters allowed inside might be as few as three, but Fulton Superior Court Judge Gregory Heller said Friday that that’s not accurate. Heller acknowledged that the court needs to come up with a solution because the courtroom is small but said no decision has been made.
He said he’s conferring with other court officials and a decision will be announced well ahead of the Oct. 15 trial date.
Seems like the answer would be to provide some seating in the courtroom for local reporters and provide a video feed in an overflow room for other reporters.
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Kosciusko County’s two congressional lawmakers, like almost all Republicans, are not voicing any concerns over the Ukraine Whistleblower scandal that quickly led to an impeachment inquiry this week by Democrats against President Donald Trump.
Indiana’s 2nd District Rep. Jackie Walorski and 3rd District Rep. Jim Banks both issued statements on Twitter denouncing the impeachment effort.
Walorski referred to it as “impeachment obsession” and added, “I’m going to keep my focus entirely on growing our economy, expanding jobs and opportunity for Hoosiers and finding commonsense solutions to the challenges working families face.”
Banks posted a video statement via Twitter in which he calls on Speaker Nancy Pelosi to apologize for launching an inquiry based relied on rumor and second-hand information. He points out that the country Is now facing another divisive battle instead of working on policies that would move the country forward. “We’ve spent two years investigating a false Russian collusion narrative. How long do we plan on pursuing this narrative? It’s already falling apart, and I think most people, especially the people who sent me here, want us to govern and do our job,” Banks said in the video.
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HONORED — Kosciusko County Democrats honored attorney Travis McConnell with the Dale Tucker award last weekend at the Salute to Service dinner in Warsaw. McConnell was recognized for his work in organizing Celebrating Us, a diversity festival held earlier this month in Warsaw. The festival, initiated by One Warsaw, exceeded expectations and McConnell said they’re already focused on improving upon next year’s event.
Also honored was Georganna Hart, Syracuse, who received the Opal Miller Service Award for her volunteer efforts.
HIGHWAY POLL — The Inkfreenews weekly poll looked at options for the proposed limited-access highway that would replace the existing US 30. The poll continues until Monday, but the clear favorite appears to be constructing a highway that follows closely with the existing highway (42%) while the southern and northern options were getting 26% and 25%, respectively. Seven percent of the voters prefer doing nothing.
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MAYORAL SUPPORT — You may have heard that a group of more than 50 mayors has endorsed South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg in his run for Democratic Party’s nomination for president.
In a letter appearing in USA Today, the mayors say, in part, that Buttigieg has the vision and proven ability to get results.
The list includes mayors from across the country, but has a Hoosier flavor, too, with support from John Hamilton, of Bloomington; Ted Ellis, of Bluffton; Dave Kitchell, of Logansport; Greg Goodnight, of Kokomo; Gay Ann Harney, of Rockport; Ron Meer, of Michigan City; and Gabriel Greer, of Peru.
Interestingly, two of those Hoosier leaders — Ellis and Kitchell — endorsed Warsaw Republican Mayor Joe Thallemer in the May primary.
Dan Spalding is the editor of InkFreeNews.com.
He covers city government and politics and always welcomes your input.
He can be reached at [email protected] or at (574) 855-7612.