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Published on July 14, 2010 with No Comments

STUDENTS BRING NEW LIFE TO DOWNTOWN VALPO

From the food at the farmers market to the art scene on Lincolnway, a group of Valparaiso University students are working hard to make downtown Valparaiso more dynamic for city residents, and an even better place to visit. The students are members of rTrail, a student-led consulting group which works in partnership with local government, small business owners and current residents on projects involving the arts and humanities, diversity, environmental sustainability, health care, travel and tourism and retail and urban planning, with the goal of growing the city’s economic strength and stability. City residents are experiencing the fruits of their labors in the city’s farmers market, where rTrail students are serving as consultants to the city, helping the market grow and adding new offerings. “Our goal is to help the market evolve and improve the community atmosphere that goes with the market,” said Kelsey Jones, rTrail member and civil engineering major from Muncie. The farmers market project actually began in the winter, said Tina St. Aubin, executive director of Valparaiso Community Festivals and Events. rTrail students helped with a competitive analysis and vendor search for the market, which takes place June through October in downtown Valparaiso.  This year’s market will feature about 15 vendors at the height of the season, including several new ones, and includes box lunches for sale by downtown restaurants. Jones said the experience of working with the market has helped her feel a part of the city. “It’s a huge, awesome experience, right after my freshman year to be able to be involved in something like this – I chose to live here my first college summer rather than go home,” said Jones. “I love the university, but now I am really feeling connected to Valpo – the community – because I am a part of it.” .
Across the street from the farmers market rTrail students have opened their Collective Edge store and gallery on Lincolnway. Operations manager Max Scuorzo, a senior French and finance major from Harpersville, NY, said the store offers artists a place to work and sell their art and a place for artists and community to come together. “The goal for our space is not to be just a store, but to serve as a hub for local artists, and a place where the community can embrace them and their work,” Scuorzo said. The store will include art exhibits, art for sale and also will offer art classes, scheduled so that community members can attend before or after a meal at a downtown restaurant. The store and gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday noon to 6 p.m., often staying open later on Friday and Saturday nights. From an academic perspective, Scuorzo said opening the store has been valuable. “It’s been a great learning experience,” Scuorzo said.  “I have basically been through every step needed to start my own business.”  rTrail supervisor Moiz Ali, a senior accounting and management major, said both the farmers market work and the Collective Edge store are projects which align with rTrail’s mission to improve the community. “We’re bringing together talent and connecting it with whomever in the community needs help, bridging the gap between the University and the city, and investing our time and talent in projects that improve the community,” Ali said. rTrail members would like community members to offer their input about arts and entertainment needs in Valparaiso in an online survey which can be found at www.rtrailcollectiveedge.com. More information about rTrail can be found at www.rtrail.com or by calling (646) 942-0481

INTERSECTION IMPROVEMENT

Under Way at U.S. 20 and S.R. 149

Traffic restricted to one-lane in each direction on U.S. 20; S.R. 149 closure at railroad scheduled for early July. The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) announced the intersection improvement on U.S. 20 at State Road 149 (S.R. 149) is underway.  U.S. 20 traffic is restricted to one lane in each direction and the shoulders of S.R. 149 are restricted so crews can place drainage structures and to begin widening the intersection. The project was awarded to Rieth-Riley Construction for $2,625,774.54 in February 2010.  Once the project is completed the intersection will be widened to include a dedicated left-turn lane in both directions of U.S. 20, with an upgraded signal with left-turn arrows.  The signal is set to a split phase where one direction of traffic travels at a time.  The improvement will increase the overall traffic flow and efficiency of the intersection by allowing more traffic to travel through the intersection, as well as decrease the amount of time traffic has to wait at the signal. Slated for early July, S.R. 149 south of the intersection will be closed for approximately two and a half months while CSX Railroad improves the crossing.  More information regarding the timing and detour will be announced closer to the actual closure date. A majority of the road improvements will be completed at the end of the construction season in November.  The overall project is anticipated to be completed in May 2011 where seed, sod and final items will be completed in the spring. The work is subject to change in the event of inclement weather.  INDOT urges motorists to use caution and consider worker safety when driving through a construction zone.  To learn more about construction work around Indiana on state highways, visit www.trafficwise.IN.gov.

 FALL FASHION SHOW

Fundraiser For Housing Opportunities.

Friends Assisting Women in Need (FAWN) will host its annual Fashion Show, Dinner and Silent Auction at Avalon Manor on Sept. 9.  Preparations for the Style Show are in full swing at both Housing Opportunities, Inc. and FAWN.   The charitable recipient of this event will be Housing Opportunities, Inc.  FAWN is a 501(C)3 organization that specializes in positively changing women’s lives as well as the lives of their families.  This event holds great opportunities for both organizations as they aim to improve the lives of program participants, especially the female head of household families.  Housing Opportunities, Inc. is the largest provider to the homeless in Porter and LaPorte counties.  Many of its clients are referred from Spring Valley Homeless Shelter, The Caring Place, Alice’s House, Gabriel’s Horn and trustee offices.  In 2009, over 1,280 clients were served; 64 percent of them were women.  In addition to providing transitional and permanent housing, Housing Opportunities provides case management service, support service, job preparations training, self-help programs, money management skills, counseling and educational programs.  Beyond the statistics are heroic stories of individuals and families overcoming extraordinary circumstances. With your support, we can help Housing Opportunities continue to positively change women’s lives and that of their families. The Style Show will feature apparel from local businesses such as: Seasons on the Square, La Grande Trunk, as well as L.R. Men’s Clothier and Tuxedos of LaPorte.  Tickets can be purchased through June Wilson at 462-9751 or junew13@comcast.net.  Admission for the event is $50 per person and includes dinner.

 FUTURE OF CHESTERTON

Foundation Seeking Support

The Future of Chesterton (FOC) is in need of fiscal support, as well as businesses willing to provide paid, full-time summer internships six to 10 weeks long. The FOC is a non-profit organization in partnership with Chesterton High School, the Town of Chesterton, and the Duneland business community to make valuable experience opportunities available for Duneland youth. In order to better engage Duneland youth, the FOC assigns a project in the form of a town issue and students present results of their research to the Town Council. Each year, these senior honor students have proven to be a valuable asset. Past proposals include a review of the Town Manager Ordinance, best practices for the implementation of an economic development website and an analysis of the economic impacts of Chesterton becoming a green town. The FOC hopes that by engaging the areas youth in this project, the students might give greater consideration to Northwest Indiana as a place to live and work in the future. In order to reward those who distinguished themselves through their contribution to the project, the foundation also attempts to provide additional work experience by matching each intern applicant with a meaningful summer internship in ones area of interest. Over the past few years, several organizations have participated in the internship program. The FOC needs support from local businesses in order to continue its engagement of exceptional youth. The organization is currently seeking fiscal support and internship opportunities for the summer of 2011. Businesses interested in sponsoring or offering an internship can find additional information at www.futureofchesterton.org or call 983-1600, ext. 1633.

 (NAP) AWARDS TAX CREDITS

To The Caring Place, Inc.

The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA) through The Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) of the State of Indiana has awarded The Caring Place, Inc. $22,000 in tax credits to be distributed now through June 2011. The Caring Place, Inc., a regional not-for-profit organization whose mission involves providing shelter and services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, is one of the 181 not-for-profits in the state to be awarded NAP credits. The sale of these tax credits to the general public will raise funds necessary to provide shelter, one-on-one and group support for clients – connecting them to community resources including housing, employment, legal aid and childcare. At the IHCDA Board of Directors meeting held June 17, $2.5 million in tax credits were allocated to 181 not-for-profit corporations throughout Indiana. The credits are part of the Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP), which allows organizations to use the tax credits as an incentive to help leverage additional contributions from individuals and businesses for neighborhood-based programs and projects. Tax credits are distributed to donors at 50 percent of the contribution amount and are subtracted from a donor’s state income tax liability. NAP tax credits are awarded through a formula allocation process that is based on several factors, including socioeconomic need, type of request, amount of request, and adherence to instructions. IHCDA received and reviewed 181 applications requesting over $6.3M. Organizations with projects specializing in housing received approximately 88 percent of their requested amount and organizations specializing in community development received approximately 21 percent of their requested amount. What makes this philanthropic opportunity different than others? Some have called it “an offer you can’t refuse.” Others refer to it as being “almost too good to be true.” Regardless of the descriptions, NAP credits are providing great benefits to donors and not-for-profit organizations throughout Indiana. The State of Indiana will “split” the cost of any gift of $100 or more made to The Caring Place. As long as the NAP credits are available, the State of Indiana will provide an income tax credit equal to 50 percent for every contribution (cash, check, credit card) over $100. In addition, you may also be able to claim a federal tax deduction on the full donation amount. (Consult a tax advisor for your personal tax savings.) The steps are straightforward to make a charitable contribution and receive the added benefit of tax savings. Make your donation now, credits go fast. Gifts should be sent directly to The Caring Place Community Advocacy Center at 3107 Cascade Drive, Valparaiso, IN 46383, along with the request for NAP credits. For more information, or to make a contribution, call Heather Klein, director of Development and Communications at 464-0840 ext.105.

MUSIC IN NATURE

Concert Series

Taltree Arboretum and Gardens will once again offer Music in Nature, their wildly popular outdoor concert series. This year several of Taltree’s regular acts will return, along with new performers, such as Duke Tumatoe & the Power Trio, The Neverly Brothers and, all the way from England, John Garrison! The summer concert series continues until late September on select Friday nights and Sunday afternoons.  Chris Sulcer & Lou Samaniego, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Friday, July 9, Variety Mix in Classic Rock Style.  Concert admission (includes Taltree gate fee):  Taltree members $10/Non- members $15. Flintlock, 3 – 5 p.m. Sunday, July 11, Flintlock offers an exciting mix of bluegrass standards, original compositions, and special twists on blues, folk and country. Concert admission (includes Taltree gate fee):  Free to members/$15 for non-members. Northwest Indiana Symphony Brass Quintet, 3 – 5 p.m. Sunday, July 25, The NISO Brass quintet plays a variety of musical styles incorporating music from the Baroque era to contemporary classics and light swing. Concert admission (includes Taltree gate fee):  Free to members/$15 for non-members. John Garrison, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Friday, August 6. This multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter has fans in Europe and the U.S. His newly-released album, “Departures,” is touted as one of the best of the year by Britsound Radio. Concert admission (includes Taltree gate fee):  Taltree members $10/Non- members $15. Taltree is located at 450 West 100 North, Valparaiso. Admission to the grounds is $5 for guests; free for Taltree members and children under 5. For more information, visit www.taltree.org, call (219) 462-0025 or e-mail info@taltree.org. Taltree Arboretum & Gardens, located south of U.S. 30 between Merrillville and Valparaiso, Indiana, is a 360-acre reserve of formal gardens, woodlands, wetlands, and prairies. From hiking the 3+ miles of trails to attending an outdoor concert or special event, visitors have enjoyed Taltree’s quiet beauty interspersed with friendly festivity since 1999. Themed displays include the Hitz Family Rose Garden, Native Plant Garden, Oak Islands, and coming in 2011, the Taltree Railway Garden. For more information visit www.taltree.org or call 462-0025.

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