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Black History Month begins today

Today marks the first day of Black History month.  First celebrated as Negro History Week in 1926, the observance of Black history in America was the brainchild of African-American scholar Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Woodson launched the commemorative week to attempt to neutralize what he saw as ignorance and the deliberate distortion of Black History, choosing the month of February for the number of great African-American pioneers and institutions whose birthdays or launch dates fell within the month.  Among these, the birthdays of Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, Langston Hughes, Eubie Blake, the NAACP and the first Pan African Congress.  The celebration became a month long observance in 1976.

Right to work bill inching closer to becoming law

(Indianapolis) — Indiana could soon be the 23rd state in the nation and the only state in the Midwest to operate as a right to work state. A final vote could come within days as the Indiana Senate prepares for a final vote on the divisive legislation. On Tuesday, the Republican-dominated Senate rejected all amendments presented by Democrats, making the bill unchanged to the one approved last week by the House and clearing the way for a final Senate vote today. The bill is expected to pass, sending the measure to Governor Mitch Daniels for his signature.  Daniels has indicated he will sign the bill into law. Yesterday, union protesters outside the Senate chamber chanted “Let the people vote!” as senators voted down a proposal for a statewide referendum on the issue. The Senate approved an identical version of the bill last week 28-22, and the Republican Senate leader says he expects a similar vote Wednesday.

House Approves more money for state fair victims

(Indianapolis)  —  Victims of last year’s stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair are getting closer to receiving more money. The Indiana House approved a bill to pay out another $5 million dollars, equaling the amount initially previously paid by the state. Seven people were killed and dozens were injured when high winds blew down the stage rigging before a Sugarland concert August 13.  The bill providing the extra money is headed to the state Senate.

Mayor plans to veto smoking ban

(Indianapolis)  —  Mayor Greg Ballard says he plans to veto a smoking ban approved by the City-County Council this week.  Ballard wants the ban to completely exempt private clubs, while the ordinance that passed Monday night allows the clubs to allow smoking if members vote to approve it.  If the clubs ban anyone under 18, they can allow smoking without a vote under the plan approved by the council.  State lawmakers are close to passing a statewide ban, which would override anything that may or may not be signed by Mayor Ballard.

Congressman to retire

(Indianapolis)  — Congressman Dan Burton has announced his decision not to seek a 17th term in the U.S. House.  Burton publicly announced his retirement effective at the end of this term at the Indiana Statehouse yesterday, calling his time in office a “wonderful run.”  Burton was facing challenges from four other Republicans in the primary, but said that wasn’t behind his decision, citing instead it was the right time to step down.

City official resigns

(Indianapolis)  — Marion County Treasurer Mike Rodman resigned yesterday from office.  Rodman, 70, says he had informed County Democratic Party Chairman Ed Treacy of his plans several weeks ago and says assisting his wife in the care of her elderly parents as the reason behind his decision.  Rodman’s  resignation comes 11 months before the end of his term. Precinct committeemen will appoint a replacement to fulfill the remainder of Rodman’s term at the party’s slating convention scheduled for February 11.

Pair caught transporting drugs

(Henry County)  — A traffic stop on Interstate 70 by an Indiana State Trooper has resulted in a cocaine bust.  The trooper stopped a tractor-trailer in Henry county around 9:30 a.m. for a routine inspection, but something wasn’t quite right with the driver and his passenger, so backup was called in. Investigators discovered 20 kilos of cocaine bricks in the truck’s cab and 17 more kilos in the refrigerated trailer. Authorities estimate the stash at a street value of almost $4 million dollars and believe the pair were headed to New Jersey from California. The driver Mosies Delgado, 26 of Florida and his passenger, Rene Rocha, 52 have been charged with possession of cocaine with intent to deliver.

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