INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Indiana schoolchildren could be learning about Christmas in class if state lawmakers approve a bill to allow holiday celebrations in schools.
The bill is set for a vote Wednesday morning in the state Senate’s education committee.
The bill would specifically allow schools to teach the history of winter celebrations such as Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Children and teachers could exchange a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah” greeting in class, and schools could decorate for the holidays if they don’t encourage any particular religion.
Schools could also put up Nativity scenes if another religion also is represented or there are secular decorations on display as well.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Two environmental groups are challenging Indiana’s extension of a construction permit for a proposed $2.8 billion coal-gasification plant in southern Indiana.
The Sierra Club and Valley Watch want an administrative law judge to strike down the Department of Environmental Management’s December decision to extend Indiana Gasification’s permit until June 27.
Their appeal filed Monday contends the permit is invalid because the public didn’t have a chance to comment on the extension request.
The agency says a comment period wasn’t needed because the permit wasn’t altered, just extended.
Indiana Gasification is awaiting Gov. Mike Pence’s decision on whether he’ll support the plant planned for the Ohio River town of Rockport. The company has a 30-year state contract requiring Indiana to buy the synthetic natural gas the plant would produce.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Dozens of school districts across central and northern Indiana continue to be closed as roads and sidewalks remain clogged with snow.
Friday makes a full week of missed school days in many schools districts following Sunday’s deep snowfall in many areas followed by the subzero temperatures that swept across the state early in the week.
Vigo County schools Superintendent Danny Tanoos tells the Tribune-Star he decided to keep the district closed because of deplorable conditions for county roads in the Terre Haute area.
Lawrence Township schools Superintendent Shawn Smith tells The Indianapolis Star that neighborhoods in northeastern Marion County are just not passable.
Travel advisories remain in effect for dozens of counties around the state. Locally, school districts in Pike, Daviess, and Martin County were on 2 hour delays this morning due to weather.
EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) – The University of Southern Indiana plans to build a $5.75 million conference center on its Evansville campus.
University facilities director Stephen Helfrich tells the Evansville Courier & Press (http://bit.ly/1d4dGRB ) the conference center will be a multipurpose building with rentable space. The school’s board of trustees approved the plan Thursday.
The school says $5 million of the construction costs will come from private gifts, with the remaining $750,000 coming from a parking and transportation reserve fund.
Helfrich says the two-story building will be 14,500 square feet in size and will feature a hall seating 150 people in a classroom setting and about 110 in a reception and dinner setting.
Helfrich says work is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.
AURORA, Ind. (AP) – A southeastern Indiana police chief has resigned following his domestic battery arrest last month.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports (http://cin.ci/1lGwUk0 ) Aurora Police Chief Bryan Fields has resigned effective Friday.
He wrote in his resignation letter to city officials that he feels he needs to take time to concentrate on his family.
The 42-year-old Fields has been police chief of the city about 20 miles southwest of Cincinnati, Ohio, for more than four years.
City officials haven’t made any official comment on his Dec. 15 arrest following an incident involving his wife and a 19-year-old son.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Indiana’s major electric utilities report making progress in repairing power outages around the state, although at least 15,000 homes and businesses remain in the dark.
That number Tuesday morning is down from more than 40,000 power outages a day earlier temperatures first plunged into the negative teens.
Indianapolis has the most trouble, with about 12,000 outages Tuesday morning.
Indianapolis Power & Light Co. says it could take until Thursday to restore all electricity. It blames most of the outages on Sunday’s heavy snowfall on trees and power lines.
Duke Energy reports about 1,000 outages each in central Indiana’s Hamilton and Tipton counties.
Numerous shelters have been opened around the state to assist those without power or stranded travelers.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – While plows still work to clear snow off Indiana roads, officials are beginning to worry about possible flooding.
The National Weather Service is predicting rain with highs in the upper 30s on Friday. Weather service meteorologist Dan McCarthy tells The Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/1egJd0R ) that with temperatures going from 14 below to nearly 40 above makes conditions ripe for flooding. That’s especially because the area was hit by 11 inches or more of snow on Sunday.
He says there likely will be street flooding because of melting snow. He also warns that homeowners who aren’t cautious about clearing their gutters could face problems. He also suggests homeowners to clear drainage areas as soon as the weather is warm enough.