I’m going to make a bold, end-of-the-year prediction.
Those summers when motorized racing at the Kosciusko County Fairgrounds was a regular weekend tradition for decades are now gone forever. Enjoy the memories. Savor the fun. But most of all, please admit that the racing tradition is over.
The fair board’s attempt to revive racing appears to have backfired this year after a judge rejected their arguments and reinstated a moratorium that had been in place for nearly 30 years. The board is appealing the ruling, but even if they somehow get that reversed – many believe it’s a long shot – they would then face another hurdle that might be just as big.
As it turns out, racing at the fairgrounds is considered a non-conforming use by zoning professionals and when a non-conforming use lapses for a long period of time, so does the approval.
City Plan Director Jeremy Skinner said such a change is a standard approach in land use management.
That means the fair board would have to petition the city board of zoning appeals for a variance to reinstitute racing.
I wonder if the fair board thought about that when racetrack supporters were openly trashing Mayor Joe Thallemer’s name during the primary election and alleging he was in cahoots with the plaintiffs who sought to shut down racing? I’m guessing not. I’m also guessing there’s no way the BZA would ever approve of such a use in the future.
The sooner the board realizes it, the better.
* * *
JUDGING MEDIA RELATIONS – A lot of reporters and editors were left shaking their heads over the lack of vision the Fulton County’s court system showed in working with the reporters during the trial and sentencing of Alyssa Shepherd, the mother who killed three children at a bus stop near Rochester in 2018.
As you recall, the courtroom was too small to accommodate the large media interest. Reporters had to jump through hoops to secure one of the six passes made available ahead of time during the trial and the sentencing on Wednesday.
But wait, there was one more twist. For whatever reason, the court suddenly made room for two more television reporters Wednesday while other reporters from South Bend and Indianapolis were left standing outside the courtroom.
While InkFreeNews was fortunate to secure a seat throughout the process, it’s hard to describe how unfair and short-sighted this turned out to be. I’m no expert on these matters, but it seems the court could have easily accommodated overflow media by setting up a video feed in a separate room.
They had months to think about this. The technology certainly exists. What was lacking was any vision.
* * *
ON THE HOT SEAT – Meanwhile, Fulton Superior Court Judge Greg Heller’s four-year prison sentence handed to Shepherd left a lot of people angry and has led to a petition on change.org where more than 10,000 people (as of early Dec. 21) have voiced their displeasure with the sentencing. The petition claims the sentence was unjust and contends that Heller apparently knows Shepherd’s family. That last thought seems like a stretch.
And if you’re wondering, Heller took office in January and won’t be on the ballot next year.
* * *
POLITICS – A few things to consider:
- It’s no secret that 18h District State Rep. Dave Wolkins has been uncertain whether to seek re-election. But if the longtime Republican lawmaker does choose to retire, there are now three people from Kosciusko County who are apparently willing run for the seat on the Republican ticket. This comes as Wabash resident Russ Reahard has made it clear he will challenge Wolkins again in the primary. Some of those who are considering a run believe Reahard is too closely aligned with District 22 State Rep. Curt Nisly, whose concerted focus on abortion and gun rights has rubbed colleagues the wrong way.
- State Sen. Stacey Donato (R-Logansport) announced she will seek her first full term representing District 18 in the Indiana General Assembly. Donato was elected upon the retirement of State Sen. Randy Head earlier this year and will fulfill the remainder of his term in 2020. In her announcement, Donato named Jake Adams as chairman of her campaign, with Head and former State Rep. Bill Friend (R-Macy) serving as honorary chairmen.
* * *
IN CONCLUSION – As always, thanks for reading and Merry Christmas!
* * *
Dan Spalding is the editor at 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.