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The Journal Gazette

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Science Central celebrated it's 20th birthday Thursday with cake, face-painting and a public ligting ceremony of the smokestacks.

  • Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette Spring Lake Woods and Bog, a 107-acre northwest Allen County nature preserve protected by ACRES Land Trust, is about to open – nearly fifty years after being identified as a significant natural area by preservation experts. To celebrate its preservation and the new recreational opportunity its trail provides, ACRES will host a Grand Opening on Sunday, Sept. 13 at 2 p.m. on the property located at 12905 Lake Everett Drive, Fort Wayne, IN 46818.

  • Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette Kiango, a 6-week old reticulated giraffe, made his debut at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo on Tuesday in the zoo's African Journey exhibit. Kiango was born on June 14, but until Tuesday he had been living with his mother, Zahra, in the zoo's giraffe barn until he could get acquainted with the zoo's herd of six adult giraffes.

  • Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette during the Fright Night zombie walk on Saturday down Wayne Street.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Portrait of Robert Barwiler "the tunnel guy" in the underground tunnel that leads from New Haven Middle School to New Haven High School on Friday. Robert Barwiler not only monitors the tunnel but keeps kids behaving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015 10:00 pm

THANKS and PRAISE

For striking and fun touches added to the Fort Wayne landscape, including the City sculpture on the roundabout now known as Superior Circle, the lights illuminating Science Central’s rainbow smokestacks and the brightly painted railroad elevation on West Jefferson Boulevard.

For a brilliant and mild autumn that lingered long past the time it might have been to expected to disappear. It was a welcome consolation prize for a cool and wet start to last summer.

For IPFW’s well-deserved designation as a multi-system metropolitan university. Its new status, effective last July 1, should allow the university the authority and resources to respond to the needs of students and the regional economy more quickly and effectively. The designation has served IUPUI well and should create a stronger university for northeast Indiana.

For a municipal election year notable for the absence of ugly campaign rhetoric. While it’s unfortunate that only about one in five registered voters bothered to cast a ballot, those who didn’t can’t complain that they were turned off by the candidates’ tone.

For a growing and vibrant arts community that extends from the traditional – like the Fort Wayne Philharmonic – to the unconventional Wunderkammer Company.

For Bob Barwiler, "the tunnel guy" who monitors the pedestrian tunnel under Indiana 930 between New Haven Middle School and New Haven High School. He helps students safely pass through the tunnel and keeps it clear of snow, graffiti and trash. Like so many other school staff throughout northeast Indiana, Barwiler is an unsung hero in helping students.

For the new Plassman Athletic Center at Turnstone. The 125,000-square-foot, $14.5 million building is a game-changer in allowing Turnstone to serve youth and adults with disabilities.

For the Mad Ants’ new affiliation with the Indiana Pacers. Since the NBA franchise bought the team in September, Fort Wayne has already seen new excitement surrounding the organization, including a preseason game between the Pacers and Charlotte Hornets and repeated visits by basketball legend Larry Bird, president of basketball operations for the Pacers.

For the leadership shown in putting together a strong Regional Cities bid. The outcome won’t be known until mid-December, but the plan developed by regional economic leaders and the framework created with the newly formed Regional Development Authority put northeast Indiana in great standing for big and bold new projects.

For the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year with record-breaking attendance in spite of a rainy summer. The zoo also welcomed Kiango, a baby giraffe; Cinta, a Javan gibbon; and a baby stingray and prairie dog.

For continuing development of the regional trail system. Pufferbelly Trail on the city’s north side grew this year with the addition of 1.6 miles north of Dupont to a new trailhead and access trail at Life Bridge Church.

For the annual Fright Night and Zombie Walk, a fun and frivolous Halloween event that continues to attract all ages of participants and observers.

For the continuing development of downtown Fort Wayne, where the Ash Brokerage project progresses steadily, Cityscape Flats takes shape west of Parkview Field and plans for The Landing coalesce.

For Foster Park golf course crews, who overcame the challenge of damaging floodwaters and downed trees to reopen the course for play this fall.

For ACRES Land Trust, the 55-year-old organization committed to preserving natural areas in northeast Indiana, northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. ACRES’ newest preserve is the 107-acres Spring Lake Woods and Bog in northwest Allen County, purchased with support of the state’s Bicentennial Nature Trust.