Here are changes, cancellations and other updates related to the coronavirus outbreak. For a more detailed list, go to www.journalgazette.net and under blogs select The Scoop.
NARUC Urges Everyone to Help Flatten the Curve during Safe Digging Month
The month of April is designated as Safe Digging Month and this year, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners wants to underscore the need for caution with any outdoor project, particularly in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Residents are reminded to call 811 before starting any outdoor home or commercial project.
“As many Americans find themselves at home because of COVID-19, some may feel inclined to work outdoors and engage in home projects. We urge anyone involved in home or business activities outdoors to exercise extreme caution," NARUC President Brandon Presley, commissioner of the Mississippi Public Service Commission said.
BOC April 3 Meeting Cancelled
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and lack of critical agenda items, the Allen County Board of Commissioners legislative session scheduled for Friday, April 3, has been cancelled. The next scheduled meeting is Friday, April 10.
MLK Bridge Lights Up to Honor Frontline Healthcare Workers
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Bridge downtown will be lit up in red and white April 3 through April 7 to honor local emergency service and healthcare workers.
State extends restaurant rules
Gov. Eric Holcomb on Tuesday signed executive orders, including one affecting restaurants.
One order extends the requirements for bars, nightclubs and restaurants to stay closed to dine-in patrons until 11:59 p.m. April 6. They may continue to provide take-out and delivery services.
The governor expects bars, nightclubs and restaurants to “comply with the directive for the safety of Hoosiers in their communities without the need to call for enforcement measures,” a news release said.
However, the state and local boards of health and the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission have been directed by the governor to “take all available administrative and enforcement actions against establishments that continue to offer in-house dining services” in violation of the order.
The state also announced, amid a dramatic surge in first-time jobless claims due to coronavirus, that the Indiana Department of Transportation will hold a virtual job fair for more than 1,000 construction and related positions at 10 a.m. April 16.
For more details, go to www.journalgazette.net.
Office says it has coronavirus tests
Credo Family Medicine has limited coronavirus testing available, officials posted on the practice's website.
Patients must still meet official guidelines to be tested, which currently include having coronavirus symptoms and increased risk factors such as age, complicating health conditions or a high-risk job such as nursing.
The tests also will be provided to patients sick enough to require hospital admission.
The office is at 10050 Auburn Park Drive off Dupont Road. Call ahead to schedule an appointment at 260-432-6459.
Tapestry moves date to Aug. 28
Tapestry, a day of inspiration, renewal and education, has found a new spot on the calendar after its original late April date was postponed. The annual event has been rescheduled for Aug. 28 at Memorial Coliseum.
Principal sponsors Purdue University Fort Wayne and Parkview Health, along with the Tapestry steering committee, also announced Tuesday that actress and activist Ashley Judd has reaffirmed her commitment to serve as keynote speaker.
Event organizers say letters and emails are going out to all involved, including sponsors, attendees, vendors and volunteers, to update everyone on options and details moving forward.
They noted that anyone in those groups does not need to re-register.
Tickets for this year's event were sold out soon after they became available.
Aqua Indiana offers tips
Aqua Indiana, part of Essential Utilities, on Tuesday offered several tips for consumers to help keep wastewater lines and household plumbing clear as more people are spending more time at home during the coronavirus public health threat and pandemic.
• Do not flush disinfectant wipes down the toilet; dispose of them in the trash instead.
• Even wipes labeled as flushable don't break down and can cause backups in household plumbing and larger blockages in wastewater collection systems.
• Do not flush tissues, napkins or paper towels, which can also cause clogs in pipes.
• Never pour cooking grease down sink drains or into toilets.
• If you have leftover cooking grease, carefully pour the warm, not hot, grease into a metal can, wait for it to cool, and dispose of it in the trash.
• Keep strainers in sink drains to catch food scraps and other solids.
• Scrape food scraps and grease into a trash can.
Whitley starts disaster fund
The Community Foundation of Whitley County announced Tuesday it has established the Disaster Response Fund for Whitley County to channel resources to the immediate response and recovery needs facing the community.
The foundation's board Saturday passed a resolution directing $100,000 to the non-permanent fund and hopes other individuals, businesses and foundations will join efforts to build support for nonprofit organizations and governmental entities offering health care and meeting essential needs such as food and emergency services.
“Over the past weeks, the county has been impacted as businesses have cutback operations, events have been canceled, and schools have closed. It is not business as usual,” Tuesday's news release said.
“Many will feel the impacts of this virus for months to come.”
The board was able to establish the fund “thanks to the generosity of many residents who made gifts to the organization with the simple message to use their contribution where it's needed the most,” September McConnell, the foundation CEO, said in a statement.
Established in 1991, the foundation has directed more than $40 million in grants and scholarships back into Whitley County.
The new, non-permanent fund will be used to mobilize grant dollars for community organizations addressing the effects of the pandemic.
Virtual Turnstone seeks $25,000
Turnstone staff and supporters have launched an online campaign to bolster the resources to continue Virtual Turnstone programming and support.
The online “It's Our Turn” campaign has a goal of $25,000, proceeds of which will be used to continue Turnstone's mission of empowering children and adults with disabilities despite social distancing measures and community health risks.
The peer-to-peer campaign follows the #ItsMyTurn campaign that ran through March, featuring children and adults with disabilities in celebration of Indiana's Disability Awareness Month.
The peer-to-peer set-up is much like a grassroots approach where staff and supporters are making their own pages online to ask their friends and family to join them in support with a small donation, Stasha Carrasquillo, Turnstone's chief marketing officer, said through email.
Turnstone also has a general page for this campaign at https://p2p.onecause.com/itsourturn/challenge.
Students pushed to file for aid
The Indiana Commission for Higher Education is encouraging all students to file the 2020-21 Free Application for Federal Student Aid before the April 15 deadline.
As part of the state's annual Cash for College campaign, the Commission is joining with INvestED Indiana to host a virtual FAFSA Frenzy event Saturday. The event is typically held in person but will be conducted virtually due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Students and families can seek assistance through the commission's Learn More Indiana social media platforms, which will be manned by commission staff members during the live event.
The virtual event will be from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday. Online and through social media, go to Facebook (facebook.com/LearnMoreIN), Instagram (@LearnMoreIndiana) and Twitter (@LearnMoreIN).
By text and phone, the commission has split the state into eight regions. A full list of counties and associated numbers is available at www.learnmoreindiana.org.
Call INvestED at 317-715-9007 for free assistance with the FAFSA.
Hill urges check of unclaimed funds
Attorney General Curtis Hill is encouraging Hoosiers to go to indianaunclaimed.gov and check whether they are the rightful owners of unclaimed funds currently being held by the office of the attorney general.
The attorney general's office said the current coronavirus pandemic make this an appropriate time for Indiana residents to see whether the Unclaimed Property Division has property owed to them.
“Any Hoosier who is struggling financially due to this public health emergency should search Indiana Unclaimed to see if there are unclaimed funds waiting for them,” Hill said.
“While there isn't property available to everyone, a quick search on our website could potentially improve a difficult situation. It's worth a look.”
Emergency called in Van Wert
The Van Wert County Board of County Commissioners has declared a state of emergency related to COVID-19 that requires actions to be taken to protect the health, safety and welfare of its residents.
The declaration approved Monday activates “the response and recovery aspects of any and all local and inter-jurisdictional disaster emergency plans which are applicable to Van Wert County, Ohio, and shall initiate the rendering of aid and assistance thereunder as needed.”
The commissioners have also requested the Van Wert County Emergency Management Agency activate the local emergency operations center to coordinate response efforts and authorizes the emergency management director to request and make applications for any and all state and federal assistance as necessary due to the pandemic.