State Rep. Dave Wolkins (R-Winona Lake) paired his sneakers with his suit to help kick off February as National Cancer Prevention Month on Wednesday at the Statehouse. The Indiana House of Representatives participated in the Suits and Sneakers Challenge, an annual event hosted by the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches, to help raise awareness. Wolkins, a cancer survivor, said the ACS has programs and services to help manage cancer treatment and recovery and help find emotional support. Photo provided.
State Rep. Dave Wolkins (R-Winona Lake) paired his sneakers with his suit to help kick off February as National Cancer Prevention Month on Wednesday at the Statehouse. The Indiana House of Representatives participated in the Suits and Sneakers Challenge, an annual event hosted by the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches, to help raise awareness. Wolkins, a cancer survivor, said the ACS has programs and services to help manage cancer treatment and recovery and help find emotional support. Photo provided.
NOT THIS TIME – One of the people who was considering a run for the District 18 state representative position was Combined Community Services’ executive director, Randy Polston.

Monday morning, Polston confirmed to us first that after much consideration and thought, he will not run. At least this time around. Education issues in Indiana were his biggest reasons for thinking about going for the position, but after accepting the CCS job in fall 2019, he decided to put his political aspirations on hold.

The seat, currently held by 32-year incumbent Dave Wolkins, will still have a race in the Republican primary – between Craig Snow and Russ Reahard – and in the November general election between the Republican winner and Wabash County Democratic Party Chairman Chad Harris. As of Friday night, no other Democrat had filed and Snow and Reahard were the only Republicans, according to the Indiana Secretary of State Election Division website.

GANGSTER – A two-day John Dillinger event will be held at the Old Jail Museum in Warsaw in April to commemorate Dillinger’s raid on the Warsaw Police station in April 1934, we’ve been told.

This is a planned expansion of the 2019 one-day event that commemorated the 85th anniversary of the raid.

The display will include uniforms from Warsaw police officers involved, along with firearms and other items from that era.

It’s rumored that one of Dillinger’s living relatives might plan to make an appearance.

More details to come as they’re provided to us.

JUST JOE – If you visit the Indiana Secretary of State Election Division website, there’s a list of Democrat and Republican candidates who have filed with the state.

As of Friday night, the list contained only one presidential candidate: Former Vice President and Democrat Joseph R. Biden, who filed Tuesday with Indiana.

No Donald Trump yet. No Pete Buttigieg. No Bernie Sanders.

However, according to an Associated Press story, a Republican challenger to President Trump and at least eight Democratic presidential candidates are poised to appear on Indiana’s May primary ballot.

The campaigns for Trump and former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld have collected enough petition signatures to qualify for the Republican ballot, according to figures provided Friday by the Indiana secretary of state’s office, the AP reports.

Trump easily won the 2016 Indiana primary and later selected then-Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate on his way to handily carrying the state in the general election.

The Democratic primary ballot could be crowded as former South Bend Mayor Buttigieg leads those meeting Indiana’s requirement of 500 voter signatures in each of its nine congressional districts.

The AP says that others that have apparently qualified are Biden, Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and businessmen Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang. Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard could also qualify as she had enough signatures in eight of the nine districts.

The campaigns have until Friday to formally file with the secretary of state’s office, although some might not remain in the race following Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses on Monday.

VICTIMS’ RIGHTS – A bill authored by state Sens. Blake Doriot (R-Syracuse) and John Ruckelshaus (R-Indianapolis) that would provide more rights to sexual assault victims passed out of the Senate Committee on Correction and Criminal Law Tuesday by a vote of 6 to 1.

Senate Bill 146 would allow sexual assault victims to have a counselor present before and during a forensic medical exam or an interview with a law enforcement officer or defense attorney.

“The process following a sexual assault can be extremely distressful for a victim to navigate,” Doriot said. “I believe SB 146 will provide more resources to help ease the burden on victims, and I will continue to advocate for legislation that supports Hoosiers in need.”

“This legislation would give individuals a professional to help them through these traumatic situations,” Ruckelshaus said. “These examinations and interviews are incredibly personal and sensitive, so I believe this will help ease the process for those who have already gone through such a hardship.”

The full Senate will now consider the bill.

PAINT THE PLOW – The Indiana Department of Transportation has launched the 2020 Paint the Plow campaign and invites Indiana schools to submit an application to participate.

Paint the Plow is open to all middle schools, high schools and career-technical schools across the state. Schools/programs will be paired with a local INDOT unit to paint an INDOT snow plow blade with original artwork representing their school. Applications and additional program details can be found at painttheplow.indot.in.gov

In addition to being seen in full service during the winter weather months, the blades may be used at events within the school’s community to enhance public awareness, promote safety and foster greater appreciation of both INDOT and the school, according to an email we received.

Only students who are currently enrolled in the applicant school may participate in the creation, execution and completion of the art project.

For more information or questions about the Paint the Plow campaign, visit painttheplow.indot.in.gov to find the contact information for your District.

LABOR FORCE – The Indiana Department of Workforce Development release the December Indiana County, City & MSA Employment Report earlier this week.

For Kosciusko County, in November 2019 there were 42,071 in the labor force, 40,852 employed, 1,219 unemployed for a rate of 2.9%.

In December 2019, the labor force for the county was 42,042; 40,927 were employed; and 1,115 were unemployed for a rate of 2.7%.

For comparison, the December 2018 benchmark figures were 42,421, labor force; 41,303 employed; and 1,118 unemployed for a rate of 2.6%.

Statewide, Indiana’s labor force in December 2019 was 3,352,305, down from 3,366,205 in November. There were 3,250,841 people employed in Indiana in December, down from 3,260,010. The number of people unemployed in December was 101,464, down from 106,195, putting December’s rate at 3.0% and November’s at 3.2%.

Indiana’s figures were still lower than the national unemployment rate: 3.3% in November for the U.S. and 3.4% for December.