The Journal Gazette
Sunday, January 10, 2021 1:00 am

Political notebook

Popcorn proposed as official snack of state

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

With a pandemic still raging, Hoosiers out of work and a state budget on tap, one Indiana lawmaker wants to add a state snack to Indiana code.

Indiana-grown popcorn would be designated the official snack under Senate Bill 97 by Sen. Ron Grooms, R-Jeffersonville.

The bill says Indiana ranks second in the nation – behind Nebraska – in production on popcorn. The state produces nearly 500 million pounds of popcorn on Hoosier soil every year and has brought jobs to the state.

“Whereas Purdue University plant breeders helped pioneer popcorn breeding in the late 1930s and early 1940s, and those varieties were used by Orville Redenbacher and others in the industry today,” the measure reads.

The bill would add a snack alongside other state symbols such as the flower (peony), tree (tulip), river (Wabash), bird (cardinal), stone (limestone) and insect (firefly.)

A few years ago, the Senate passed a resolution deeming sugar cream pie as the state pie but it was non-binding and was not passed by the House.

Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray said lawmakers have much more significant and important things to do, such as passing a budget and redistricting.

“I've got a lot of other things to focus on,” he said.

Despite that, the bill is scheduled for a hearing Monday at 9:45 a.m.

Arp: 'Give me a break'

Standing outside the Allen County Courthouse, Fort Wayne City Councilman Jason Arp scoffed at the idea that President Donald Trump's election fraud claims are illegitimate.

“We watch these people steal these elections, and then they laugh at us. We read these stories about what's going on and they say, 'false claims of election fraud.' False claims of this or that,” Arp told a group of several dozen Stop the Steal demonstrators. “False claims? After four years of false claims about Russians hacking the election? Give me a break.”

Arp's speech Wednesday covered various topics, including the 2020 presidential election and what the councilman said was Americans' loss of zeal to be “free and independent for yourself” without expecting “the government to do everything for you.”

“What happened to that spirit?” Arp asked the crowd.

Conservative Americans must teach their kids right from wrong,” Arp said, while accusing public schools of promoting socialism.

“The schools have turned the kids into little communists,” he said.

New president tapped for EACS

The East Allen County Schools board has a new president.

The seven-member board on Tuesday elected Todd Buckmaster president, Tim Hines vice president and Gayle Etzler secretary.

Hines most recently served as president.

The board also welcomed new members Jenny Blackburn and Ron Turpin, who were sworn in along with fellow Nov. 3 election winners, incumbents Buckmaster and Steve Screeton.

County Council officers named

Allen County Councilman Kyle Kerley was chosen Thursday to serve as president of the Allen County Council for 2021. He succeeds Councilman Joel Benz, R-3rd, who was president last year. 

Kerley, a Republican, won his first re-election campaign in November. He was previously appointed to the County Council in 2018 to replace former Councilman Eric Tippmann, who is now the Perry Township trustee. Kerley is an at-large councilman.

Republican Councilman Chris Spurr, who was appointed to the council's District 4 seat in July following the resignation of former Councilman Larry Brown, was selected to serve as vice president this year. 

Ashley Sloboda and Dave Gong of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Niki Kelly at Political Notebook can be found at

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