This and that, in an all-free edition to count down a holiday week …
(Correction: An initial version of this edition included the wrong first name for the next Lafayette police chief. He is Scott Galloway. This version has been corrected.)
SPEAKING OF THE HOLIDAY …: Let’s start there. The 35th annual Lafayette Urban Ministry Community Thanksgiving Feast is back as a carry-out affair again in 2021. (Thanks, COVID.) The dinner, open to anyone, will be from noon to 2 p.m. Thursday at Central Presbyterian Church, 31 N. Seventh St. in downtown Lafayette. According to LUM, the church-backed nonprofit expects to prepare and distribute more than 800 meals. No reservation needed for the free dinner. As of Monday, LUM was still accepting donations – go to www.lumserve.org/donate – and had openings for volunteers. Check the needs here: www.lumserve.org/volunteer/thanksgiving-volunteer.
Earlier in the day, LUM also will host its Turkey Trot 5K. The run starts at 8 a.m. and cover the Cattail Trail Loop at the Celery Bog Nature Area in West Lafayette. Registration: $35 for adults, $10 for those 13 and younger. To register and more: turkeytrot5krun.org.
COVID NUMBERS, GOING UP: So, yeah, speaking of the second Thanksgiving holiday of the pandemic …
Last week, top doctors at IU Health Arnett and Franciscan Health hospitals in Lafayette, already near capacity, were cringing as they watched the numbers of COVID-19 cases creep up in Tippecanoe County and across the state, hoping they weren’t in for a full-blown surge already knocking in other parts of the country as families get ready for full-blown Thanksgiving gatherings. (Remember, last year at this time is when Purdue scheduled the end of its in-person classes, with a planned end of the semester from home.)
“We're at the mercy of where we're headed on this,” Dr. Daniel Wickert at Franciscan Health said. “You see Colorado, you see New Mexico, you see some of those states that are really in trouble. … We’re hopeful that we don’t go back there.”
Here’s where things stand, just a few days later.
With Monday’s report from the Indiana State Department of Health, Tippecanoe County was back numbers that equaled peak moments from the summer, when a wave of Delta-variant cases brought back indoor mask restrictions in local schools and in other corners of the community. As of Monday, the seven-day average in the county was 83 new cases a day – the same as they were when the summer wave peaked in late August. The seven-day average a month ago was 38 a day. Two weeks ago, it was at 42 a day.
Monday’s report – a typical catch-up day after a weekend off for running out the state’s numbers – included 133 cases tagged to Friday, the highest one-day total since 149 cases on Feb. 5, on the back end of the first and biggest wave of the pandemic.
Statewide numbers show similar trends, though the current figures aren’t at the summer surge level, as of Monday – 3,130 per day vs. a peak of 4,271 in August.
At Purdue, active cases topped 100 for the first time in a while, with 118 on the Protect Purdue dashboard Monday.
What’s at the root, locally, according to those in charge of contact tracing?
“It continues to be unvaccinated people,” Khala Hochstedler, Tippecanoe County Health Department administrator. “We have very few breakthrough cases. It seems to be community spread for the most part. We are seeing an increase in school cases. ... We also have seen some activity in extend care facilities. We are working with these sites to ensure that booster doses are done.”
Meanwhile, the state lawmakers are set to return to Indianapolis next week to consider a bill that offers provisions Gov. Eric Holcomb says will allow him to end the health emergencies in place since the start of the pandemic. The bill, revealed over the weekend, also includes a proposal to give employees more latitude to skirt vaccine mandates at work. Holcomb told The Associated Press that he wanted “to hear where they’re coming from” before weighing in.
Here’s a way into the full AP report:
NEW CHIEF IN LINE FOR LPD: Looks like a new chief will be the one to break in the $55 million Public Safety Center across from city hall when the Lafayette Police Department moves in sometime in 2023. On Monday, Mayor Tony Roswarski announced that Capt. Scott Galloway will be the city’s next police chief, once current Chief Patrick Flannelly retires in March 2022. Roswarski, a former LPD officer, said the next five months would be dedicated to a smooth transition. Roswarski said he chose Galloway from five applicants.
“I am confident that Capt. Galloway will exceed our expectations and will enhance the department’s stellar reputation,” Roswarski said in a prepared statement sent Monday.
Galloway, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Purdue, has been with LPD since 1998 and is captain of the uniform patrol division and special units. He’s worked in the detective division.
Flannelly has been with LPD for 26 years. Roswarski named him chief in 2012, replacing Don Roush. In that time, the police department has added more than 30 new positions, according to the city’s count.
“Chief Flannelly has served the citizens of Lafayette and the police department admirably and all of Lafayette owes him a debt of gratitude for his public service to our community,” Mayor Tony Roswarski said in a statement with his announcement Monday.
PURDUE PROF CHARGED IN DOMESTIC BEATING, LOCKING BOY IN DOG CAGE: John Froiland, a Purdue clinical assistant professor who specializes in positive psychology interventions and supportive parent-child communication, was formally charged Monday with five felonies and a misdemeanor in connection with a Nov. 11 incident when he was accused of hitting his wife with a chair leg and locking his 10-year-old son in a dog cage. The charges include domestic battery, battery of a person younger than 14 and criminal confinement.
According a probable cause affidavit that accompanied the charges, Froiland’s wife was able to escape their West Lafayette home after Froiland grabbed her by the throat and shoved her against a wall and later breaking a leg off a chair and hitting her repeatedly on the arms. During incident, court documents contend, Froiland put his son in a dog cage, telling him “to die” and that he was going to string chicken wire around the crate so the boy couldn’t get out. Froiland’s wife and the boy were able to leave and contact police, who confronted him later that evening. Froiland faces a court hearing Jan. 7. Purdue has placed Froiland on paid administrative leave, Tim Doty, a university spokesman, said.
FLORA CASE GOES UNSOLVED FIVE YEARS LATER: WLFI reporter Samantha Thieke noted that Sunday was the five-year anniversary of an arson fire that killed five sisters, all under 12 – Keyana Davis, Keyara Phillips, Kerriele McDonald and Kionne Welch – in Flora. Their mother, Galen Rose, was able to escape the night of Nov. 21, 2016. But since then, police haven’t made an arrest in the case. Here’s a way into the WLFI report:
A TECUMSEH THREAT: Scary moment that never materialized when someone tipped off school officials and Lafayette police to threats on Snapchat that a Tecumseh Junior High School student planned a school shooting Monday. According to police, investigators were able to trace the social media posts Sunday night to a girl who went to Tecumseh. The girl was arrested, and police found no evidence that she had access to guns or that she intended to follow through on the threat, aimed at several people names as targets, police reported. Classes resumed as usual at the Lafayette school.