Gemma DiCarlo

Reporter

Gemma DiCarlo comes to Indiana by way of Athens, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and certificates in New Media and Sustainability. She has radio experience from her time as associate producer of Athens News Matters, the flagship public affairs program at WUGA-FM. 

Gemma is originally from Harrisburg, Oregon, and is looking forward to covering all things Michiana. 

RV Industry Association

The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association is reporting its best July shipment numbers on record. 

 

According to the association’s monthly survey, manufacturers had shipped more than 44,537 units by the end of the month – a 3.5 percent increase from last July. 

 

The association says this is the ninth straight month of record RV shipments as people search for pandemic-safe ways to travel and get outside.

(Jeanie Lindsay/IPB News)

Starting Thursday, masks will be mandatory for students, staff and visitors at all Elkhart Community Schools. The ECS school board approved the mandate Tuesday in a 4-3 vote. 

City of Sturgis

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency for St. Joseph County, Michigan, Tuesday after severe weather earlier this month caused significant damage.

Alan Mbathi/IPB News

Earlier this month, the Penn-Harris-Madison school board adopted a mask-optional policy for the 2021-22 school year, drawing backlash from local doctors. After reviewing state and local COVID-19 data, the board voted to change the policy Monday.

City of Elkhart

The City of Elkhart announced Monday that longtime city councilwoman Mary Olson has died. A release from the city says Olson passed away Monday afternoon from an undisclosed illness.

In the release, Elkhart Mayor Rod Roberson said Olson was the “consummate public servant” and “a champion of the causes she believed in.”

 

Starting Monday, Aug. 23, Goshen Community Schools students at the following schools will have to wear a mask indoors: 

Bill Pennell/Unsplash

Black bears haven’t lived in Indiana since the late 1800s, but earlier this week, one was found just north of Bristol in Elkhart County. 

 

While black bears historically lived throughout the state, the closest population to northern Indiana is now in the upper part of Michigan’s lower peninsula. 

 

Indiana Department of Natural Resources mammalogist Brad Westrich said seeing a bear south of Grand Rapids is rare, but some young males will roam further in search of food and other resources. 

 

Lauren Chapman / IPB News

The Elkhart County Health Department is once again urging all residents to wear a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status, as the delta variant drives a rapid increase in cases in the county.

 

Elkhart County Health Officer Dr. Bethany Wait said Thursday the county’s positivity rate has nearly doubled in the last three weeks, from just over 5 percent to 9.4 percent.

 

Jeanie Lindsay / IPB News

Last week, the Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation approved a mask-optional policy for students and staff this school year. Now, the area’s only children’s hospital is now urging the district to change that policy.

Justin Hicks / WVPE

The South Bend Community School Board passed a new student code of conduct at its meeting on Aug. 16. That’s after the U.S. Department of Justice asked the district to review its policy as part of its consent decree to desegregate.

 

The code of conduct –– which is now called “Shared Rights & Responsibilities” –– lays out behavior expectations and disciplinary responses for South Bend students and educators.

 

City of Goshen

The City of Goshen has officially appointed its first deputy mayor. 

Mark Brinson, the city’s community development director, will now assist Mayor Jeremy Stutsman with things like enforcing local ordinances, providing information to the city council, and signing city documents when the mayor isn’t available.

 

Jennifer Weingart / WVPE Public Radio

The Berrien County Health Department is recommending that all residents wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. 

The Centers for Disease Control list Berrien County as having “substantial” spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus. 

Emma Atkinson/WTIU

Goshen Community Schools is requiring masks for all staff and visitors at the district’s K-6 schools.

The move is in accordance with pandemic guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and the Elkhart County Health Department.

 

In a letter to parents Wednesday, Superintendent Steve Hopen said the mask requirement is meant to protect the district’s “most vulnerable students who are not yet able to be vaccinated.” Currently, only those age 12 and older are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.  

 

WVPE News

South Bend city officials gave their first overview of the city’s 2022 budget at a personnel and finance committee meeting Wednesday evening. 

The city proposed a total budget of $382.1 million dollars, not counting any federal funds from the American Rescue Plan. $305.6 million of that would go to baseline spending –– what the city needs to operate –– and the remaining $76.5 million would go to strategic spending, or what the city spends to improve residents’ quality of life.

 

Gemma DiCarlo/WVPE News

Updated 2:15 p.m. Friday, Aug. 13.

Several days of severe weather this week left thousands across Michiana without power. At the peak of the storms, more than 15,000 households and businesses in the Elkhart area lost power. 

 

Elkhart County Emergency Management Director Jennifer Tobey says severe weather is normal this time of year, but the series of storms and accompanying extreme heat complicated cleanup and restoration efforts. 

 

South Bend Department of Public Works


South Bend utility rates will rise over the next five years following a common council decision Monday night. However, not all rates will rise immediately, and none will rise this year.

Screenshot captured via YouTube

Masks will be optional at all Penn-Harris-Madison schools this fall following a 5-2 school board vote Monday night.

The South Bend Community School Corporation approved a universal mask mandate last week, but masking is still optional in many other local school districts, including Elkhart, Concord and Goshen Community Schools.

 

Elkhart County Health Department

The Elkhart County Health Department is recommending that all residents wear a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

The Centers for Disease Controls has labeled the county as having “substantial” spread of the Delta variant, which is more contagious and more transmissible than other variants of the coronavirus.

 

Gemma DiCarlo / WVPE Public Radio

Indiana lawmakers held hearings across the state this weekend to get public input on redistricting, or the process of redrawing legislative boundaries. The group held its last meeting of the weekend Saturday in Elkhart. 

The St. Joseph County Department of Health reported Friday that the West Nile Virus has been found in northern Osceola. 

There are no human cases so far, but health officials still recommend taking personal protective measures and taking measures to eliminate potential mosquito breeding grounds.

 

(Read the full release from the health department below.)

Gemma DiCarlo / WVPE Public Radio

South Bend officials held their first “Build the Budget” hearing Thursday evening to get public input on where the city should spend its money in 2022 –– including the nearly $59 million it got from the American Rescue Plan Act. 

 

Gemma DiCarlo / WVPE Public Radio

Blackjack, roulette and other Class III games opened for play Thursday at South Bend’s Four Winds Casino. That’s after Indiana and Pokagon Band officials signed a historic gaming compact earlier this year. 

IDOH


For the first time since February, the Indiana Department of Health’s COVID-19 tracking map is showing a county in “red,” which indicates unchecked community spread of the coronavirus. That’s Posey County, in the southwestern corner of the state.

Screenshot captured via Zoom

With the city of South Bend’s 2022 budget hearings set to start this week, local Black Lives Matter leaders released their own Black People’s Budget Tuesday.

 

Screenshot captured via WebEx

In Elkhart, a new and improved Tolson Center is one step closer to reality.

Screenshot captured via WebEx

The Elkhart Common Council dedicated $2.8 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding to two city infrastructure projects at its meeting on Aug. 2. 

FILE

A panel of experts from cities around the U.S. offered their recommendations on how to revitalize downtown Elkhart Thursday. 

(Courtesy of IU Health)


Public health agencies and nonprofits in southwest Michigan have joined to boost COVID-19 vaccination rates across three counties. 

St. Joseph County logo

The St. Joseph County Council is set to discuss its first round of spending from the American Rescue Plan Act Tuesday evening. About $10.5 million of the county’s nearly $53-million allotment is on the table. 

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

The South Bend Community School Corporation is the most recent local school district to decide how it will reopen for the 2021-2022 school year. The school board approved the district’s reopening plan at its meeting on Monday.

 

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