Local News Headlines: November 30, 2023

More uncertainty as Monroe County Commissioners delay approving Convention Center Project agreement
After years of talk and more talk, the proposed expansion of the Monroe County Convention Center looked as if it was heading in the right direction. Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton finally decided to play nicely with his County colleagues, signing an agreement for the project to move forward. He waved the figurative banner, parading as if he had accomplished something, which most in the community know as continued grandstanding from his administration.

He was the one delaying the project for years, through his refusal to cooperate with MC Commissioners, and he touted his signature on a proposed inter-governmental agreement as the cherry on the sundae, to complete the project. But there are still many questions in the air, according to members of both Monroe County Council and the Commissioners.

Neither governmental body has accepted the proposed agreement in its current state, which means it will eventually go back to the drawing board and the Mayor’s office. Although, it will likely not happen until after the new calendar year . . . and a new Mayor is sworn into office.

The concerns the County officials have voiced include the structure of the Convention & Visitors Commission and a non-profit building corporation, the latter being previously established by Hamilton.

The C&V Commission is the body that oversees expenditures of Innkeeper Tax revenues, which the State of Indiana guidelines as three appointees chosen by County Council and two chosen by the Commissioners. The current proposed agreement suggests that one of those appointments shall be nominated by City Council.

Four members of armed Fentanyl, Methamphetamine, and Cocaine Trafficking Conspiracy convicted following Federal jury trial
A federal jury has found four men guilty for their roles in a multi-state drug trafficking ring that dealt large quantities of fentanyl, methamphetamine, and cocaine in Indianapolis. Seventeen other members of the conspiracy entered guilty pleas prior to trial.

  • Keith Jones, aka “Keybo” 57, of Indianapolis, was found guilty of conspiracy to distribute drugs and engage in money laundering, leading a continuing criminal enterprise, and illegally possessing multiple handguns and an assault rifle, among other charges. Jones’s convictions carry a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
  • Kevin Backstrom, 57, of Los Angeles, California, was found guilty of conspiracy to distribute drugs and engage in money laundering. Backstrom’s convictions carry a potential sentence of no less than 10 years up to life in prison.
  • Anthony Moore, 37, of Indianapolis, was found guilty of conspiracy to distribute drugs, among other charges. Moore’s convictions carry a potential sentence of no less than 10 years up to life in prison.
  • Herman Wesley Tavorn, 42, of Indianapolis, was found guilty of possessing with intent to distribute fentanyl. Tavorn’s conviction carries a potential sentence of no less than 10 years up to life in prison.
  • The jury acquitted a fifth defendant, Charles Davis, 38, of Indianapolis, who was charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute controlled substances.

These individuals were charged along with seventeen others in a series of federal indictments beginning in July of 2022, for their roles in this drug trafficking ring.

Griffy Lake Nature Preserve closed for Deer Hunt December 2-3
Griffy Lake Nature Preserve will be closed to the public during the final weekend of deer hunting, Dec. 2-3, beginning at 11 p.m. Dec. 1 through 5 a.m. Dec. 4. 

Only hunters who applied and were selected to participate in the hunt are permitted to hunt at Griffy Lake Nature Preserve. The nature preserve remains closed to public hunting.

The goal of the annual deer hunts is to remove enough deer from the nature preserve to reduce deer browse pressure on understory plants and seedling trees to the point that these species are able to recover, and to continue reproducing within the preserve. Twenty-five deer were harvested from Griffy Lake Nature Preserve during the first deer hunt weekend Nov. 18-19. Parks and Recreation has actively managed the deer population at Griffy Lake with sharpshoots or hunts since 2017. 

This Week in Hoosier History


1838  – Governor David Wallace and others took the first steam train ride in Indiana along 15 miles of track on the Madison & Indianapolis Railroad.

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