Gary’s Comeback Year

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Gary City Hall

Gary’s rising economy, emergency manager’s resignation, turnaround at Roosevelt, mark 2018

Giavonni Nickson

By Giavonni Nickson

Patience, consistency, and focus are necessary for progress. Gary’s government officials, community leaders, and community members have worked tirelessly throughout the year with a singular focus on improving the quality of life for the citizens of Gary. 2018 has been a year of slow and steady progress with signs of revitalization. Gary, once the economic engine for the state of Indiana, has been striving to get back to its roots.

Neighborhoods have been slowly revitalized with the help of the Dollar House Program, demolition initiatives, and federal government funding. New leadership in Gary Community Schools and the Police Department emerged with a promise to continue to aid the city’s progress.

Nestled off the shores of Lake Michigan, Gary is a prime location for business development and growth. State Governor Eric Holcomb designated Gary as an opportunity zone. Local and state government have worked together to leverage new business partnerships and support established businesses in the city. New partnerships with Alliance Steel and Fulcrum BioEnergy are scheduled to bring over 200 jobs to the city and over $600 million in investments. US Steel announced plans to invest $740 million to make major upgrades at its largest and oldest manufacturing plant located in Gary’s downtown area.

The grand opening of the new general aviation Customs facility at the Gary/Chicago International airport has opened the door to a whole new international market and services.

Throughout the year the Crusader has followed Gary’s progress. Here are the 2018 highlights, year-end review.

JANUARY

Gary library reopens after being closed for six years

Six years after it closed its doors due to financial woes, and budget constraints, Gary’s 109-year-old main library reopened as the Gary Public Library and Cultural Center. The renovated library includes a 100-seat theatre and a spacious community room with kitchen. Patrons can rent them both for community programs, social events and functions. The library also has a new adult computer lab with 41 computers.

New police chief sworn in as Larry McKinley abruptly resigns

Gary Lt. Richard Allen on Monday, January 8, was sworn in as the city’s new police chief, one day after Larry McKinley abruptly resigned after serving three years on the job.

Relatives, friends and city leaders packed the council room at City Hall as Allen took the oath administered by Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. Minutes later, Allen announced Special Operations Commander Brian Evans, 48, as his deputy chief.

FEBRUARY

State Rep. Brown seeks to improve Gary’s pharmacy desert

State Rep. Charlie Brown

Representative Charlie Brown (D-Gary) made efforts to draw greater attention to the rising numbers of pharmacy deserts across Indiana and attracted the support of colleagues in the House.

House Bill 1382 urged the Legislature to study ways to eliminate pharmacy deserts across Indiana. “Everyone deserves to have proper access to their medications, and with nearly 70 percent of Americans on at least one prescription drug, establishing this study committee will help ensure that all of our constituents have proper access to their medications,” said Representative Brown.

MARCH

Gary receives funding from U.S. Housing and Urban Development

U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson announced the availability of over $3.2 million to the Gary Housing Authority to address emergency, safety and security needs impacting residents. HUD awarded the Gary Housing Authority a Capital Fund Emergency Safety and Security grant in the amount of $3,212,125. Funding awarded to the Gary Housing Authority helped safeguard resident health and safety.

HUD’s Capital Fund Emergency Safety and Security Program supports public housing authorities as they address related physical work items resulting from an unpreventable or unforeseen emergency that poses an immediate threat to life, health, or safety of residents, or property and that must be corrected within one year of funding.

This funding helped facilitate the demolition of 254 public housing units at the Concord Village and Delaney West developments.

APRIL

Gary is designated an Opportunity Zone

Governor Eric J. Holcomb submitted Indiana’s 156 Opportunity Zone nominations to the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. According to the governor’s office, Gary, Indiana, was designated as one of those zones. The federal Opportunity Zone program was created in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and provides federal capital gains tax incentives to attract private sector investment to low-income urban and rural communities.

These selections were made after much public input and careful consideration, looking at both community need and potential opportunity for investment. The state collected extensive economic data on all eligible census tracts and received close to 2,000 recommendations, including input from 357 local officials, stakeholders, and citizens via an online portal.

MAY

Senator Melton utilizes learning program to help the city

Senator Eddie Melton

State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary) was among 38 select lawmakers chosen to participate in a training program that annually identifies and assists promising state leaders in the Midwest.

Sen. Melton was scheduled to meet with fellow lawmakers from Indiana and 10 other Midw

estern states and four Canadian provinces on August 10-14 in Minneapolis, MN, for The Council of State Governments’ 24th annual Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development (BILLD).

 

JUNE

Police Department infuses technology

The Gary Police Department launched a new tool in combating the city’s growing crime problem by giving citizens a 21st Century tool used in other major cities to report minor offenses. The online crime reporting portal can be found at the agency’s website and citizens are reminded to call 911 for stricter emergencies.

Residents can use the online system to report battery, intimidation, lost property, telephone harassment, theft, threats, and vandalism. The online reporting tool frees up much-needed police personnel to pursue more serious crimes by allowing residents the ability to start the paperwork and reporting moments after an incident occurs.

JULY

Gary Receives Love Block Revitalization Grant

The City of Gary was among 10 municipalities to receive a portion of a quarter of a million dollar grant to help with its revitalization efforts. Cities of Service, a national nonprofit organization announced this week that the City of Gary is one of 10 U.S. cities to receive a $25,000 “Love Your Block” Award, designed to assist local government in engaging residents in neighborhood revitalization. The grant also comes with two years of technical assistance, and two AmeriCorps VISTA members to work at City Hall to increase community awareness.

AUGUST

Gary’s Dollar House Program lists properties

The City of Gary’s Department of Commerce Community Development Division announced eight houses for sale in the city, and available for purchase through the city’s Dollar Home Program. The Dollar Home Program further encourages home ownership while eliminating blighted properties, through the rehab of vacant houses in the city.

U.S. Steel announces $740 million in its Gary plant

Gary CEO David B. Burritt  made the announcement August 16 in the U.S. Steel Gary Works offices to make major upgrades at its largest and oldest manufacturing plant located in Gary’s downtown area. Comprised of both steelmaking and finishing facilities, Gary Works has an annual raw steelmaking capability of 7.5 million net tons. The facility provides more than 3,800 full-time jobs and manufactures sheet products, strip mill plate in coils, and tin products.

SEPTEMBER

Construction on East Corporate Hanger at Gary Chicago Airport

The GYY Authority Board hired Lee Companies of Gary, Indiana to manage the construction of a new East Corporate Hangar to house corporate and executive aircraft. Construction of the new East Corporate Hangar is expected to be completed by early 2019.

The Airport Authority Board also approved:

A lease extension with the Indiana Army National Guard; an extension to the Intra-Local Agreement through the end of 2019 between the airport and the City of Gary for Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) Services; and an annual agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wildlife Service for wildlife management on airport property.

OCTOBER

General Aviation facility officially opens

The U.S. Customs & Border Patrol facility officially opened and GYY welcomed its first international arrival, a Bombardier Global 6000 aircraft flying direct from Copenhagen, Denmark.  GYY and Customs & Border Patol officials were on hand to welcome the premier arrival and clear aircraft passengers and crew through Customs, a process that took less than 30 minutes from the time the plane landed, to full CBP clearance.

Gary’s Naomi Millender dies

Naomi worked tirelessly to preserve Gary’s music and art culture. She was 73 years old. The daughter of historian and educator Dharathula Millender, Naomi was born April 24, 1945 in Terre Haute, Indiana to Justyn L. Millender and Dharathula H. Millender. Naomi was confirmed into the Lutheran Church early in life and continued in the faith throughout her lifetime.

NOVEMBER

West Side alumnus LaTroy Hawkins is honored during Lakeshore Classic

LaTroy Hawkins, born and raised in Gary IN, was drafted to the major leagues and began his career after graduating from West Side High School. He had a 21-year Major League baseball career playing for several teams, including the Minnesota Twins and Chicago Cubs. At the time of his retirement, Hawkins was the only active player to be a member of the 1,000 games pitched club. He returned to Gary as the keynote speaker for the 11th annual Lakeshore Classic Corporate Luncheon. Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson presented Hawkins with a key to the city.

Roosevelt demonstrates improvement with “A” grade

Roosevelt College and Career Academy received a grade of “A” from the Indiana Department of Education Student-Centered School Accountability Grade System. The achievement came nine months after Roosevelt was designated an Innovation Network School. Roosevelt received the top grade because it has shown improvement towards academic achievement in ways it had not seen in years.

Gary Schools Emergency Mangement team new leadership

Peggy Hinckley, a veteran Region educator, retired after leading the emergency management team during its first 16 months under state control. Former Griffith Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Pete Morikis was introduced as Hinckley’s successor to lead the Gary school district. Morikis expressed an optimistic outlook for the future of Gary Schools starting in 2019. “We are moving in a positive direction for the upcoming year. We are listening to the concerns of the community and the parents. There will be more communication between us in 2019. Failure is no longer an option.”

DECEMBER

Jobs coming to Gary with Alliance plans for new plant in city

Alliance Steel announced plans to move its operations from Bedford, Illinois to begin operations in Gary by January 2020. This move supports an economic revival in the city, bringing 100 full-time jobs. The company plans to expand and create up to 35 additional high-wage jobs by 2023. Alliance Steel will invest $19.7 million to establish operations in Gary, purchasing and equipping a 250,000-square-foot facility at 2700 E. 5th Ave. ATCO-Gary Metal Technologies formerly occupied the facility. Alliance will begin renovations on the facility in early 2019.

Fulcrum BioEnergy selects Gary for new plant

Fulcrum

Fulcrum BioEnergy selected Gary for the location of its Centerpoint BioFuels Plant, which will convert municipal solid waste into low-carbon, renewable transportation fuel. With a $600 million investment, Fulcrum will generate hundreds of jobs in the region, creating 160 full-time operational jobs and 900 construction jobs.

Construction in Gary is expected to begin in 2020 and will take approximately 18-24 months to complete. Once operational, the Centerpoint plant will divert and process approximately 700,000 tons of waste from the greater Chicago area.

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