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. 

SJHS

Saint Joseph Health System has joined many other healthcare institutions in relaxing its visitation guidelines.

A release from the health system says visitation policies vary by department and COVID status, but in general, the new guidelines let different visitors switch out throughout the day, and allow the same visitor to return multiple times a day.

 

The release says though COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations have decreased, the virus still poses a challenge to the local community. 

 

Photo provided

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced Monday that the city of Sturgis will receive economic development grants to fund two recreational vehicle manufacturing campuses. 

Cruiser RV and Heartland RV –– both owned by Elkhart-based Thor Industries –– are opening their first Michigan campuses in Sturgis. A release from the governor’s office says the companies chose Michigan over competing sites in Indiana “primarily because of the availability of skilled workers in the area.” 

 

Justin Hicks/WVPE

Two St. Joseph County police officers – James Hart and Brad Bauters – have voluntarily resigned from the department. That’s after County Sheriff Bill Redman started the termination process for them back in May. 

Barb Anguiano/WVPE News

The Tolson Community Center has served south-central Elkhart almost continuously for the last 30 years. This weekend, Tolson officials and alums are gathering to celebrate the community center’s past and offer an update on its future.

Justin Hicks/WVPE

 

 

Earlier this week, the South Bend Housing Authority’s former executive director was indicted on federal fraud charges, along with former employees and contractors. Now, officials and activists are calling for transparency within the organization. 

 

Provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/ Alissa Eckert, MS

St. Joseph County health officials say two cases of the highly contagious Delta variant have been identified in the county so far.

At the most recent board of health meeting Wednesday, Deputy County Health Officer Dr. Mark Fox said those two cases occurred back in May. He said there’s a significant lag time between when the state samples cases and when a variant case is reported. 

 

“It’s a minimum of two weeks, but more realistically, it’s six weeks,” Fox said. “So when we get the report of a variant, we know what ancient history was.”

Gemma DiCarlo / WVPE Public Radio

The City of South Bend and the United Way of St. Joseph County have renewed their partnership to fund early childhood education. 

The United Way established a grant fund in 2019 to help local programs make improvements on Paths to Quality, the state’s rating system for early childhood programs.

 

IDOH


The number of Indiana counties in more serious color categories more than doubled this week on the state’s color-coded COVID-19 tracking map.

Screenshot captured via Zoom

The Goshen city council voted at its July 20 meeting to annex about 160 acres of land southeast of the city, near County Road 36. 

Justin Hicks/IPB News

Several former South Bend Housing Authority employees, including its former director, are facing charges of wire fraud, bank fraud and more following a federal investigation.

Screenshot captured via WebEx

Earlier this month, Elkhart Mayor Rod Roberson signed an executive order giving two additional paid days off to city employees who get a COVID-19 vaccine by August 15, or who have already been vaccinated. Now, members of the city’s common council are questioning whether that incentive is legal.

At the council’s most recent meeting on Monday, Councilman David Henke said the mayor’s incentive would amount to over 10,000 hours in “lost time and services” – a cost that would be borne by the city’s taxpayers.

 

Screenshot captured via YouTube

Following back-to-back shootings in Elkhart earlier this month, Mayor Rod Roberson issued a video statement on Monday denouncing gun violence in the city.

 

Roberson extended the city’s condolences to the loved ones of the shooting victims, and encouraged community members to support one another. 

 

Notre Dame School of Architecture

This spring, students at the Notre Dame School of Architecture developed a plan to reimagine South Bend’s William Street corridor. The city has expressed interest in some elements of the plan, which aims to connect Downtown to the Near West Side. 

The University of Notre Dame
Jennifer Weingart

The University of Notre Dame has announced it will go ahead with plans to put a Chick-fil-A restaurant on campus, despite student and faculty concerns about the organization. 

Provided by the Potawatomi Zoo

The Potawatomi Zoo has announced that its resident red pandas, Maiya and Justin, recently welcomed two female cubs. 

Even though the mortality rate for red panda cubs is nearly 50 percent, the zoo says it’s cautiously optimistic –– both cubs have gained weight over the last three weeks and seem to be thriving.

 

(Read the full release from the zoo below.)

 

City of South Bend

South Bend is hosting its first Small Business Launch Pad at the Charles Black Community Center on Saturday. It’s part of a city effort to promote women and minority-owned businesses.

(Read the full release from the city below.)

The City of South Bend’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion is hosting its first Small Business Launch Pad event to celebrate the resilience of our community and small businesses during the economic challenges of the last year.

WVPE News

South Bend city officials had their first public conversation Wednesday night about how to spend the nearly $59 million the city will receive from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Photo provided courtesy of Goshen Health

Goshen Health is expanding visitor access and its inpatient and outpatient facilities. 

(Read the full list of requirements and restrictions below.)

GOSHEN, Ind., July 14, 2021 – Effective today, Goshen Health adjusted visitor restrictions to allow for more patient visitation and support. Masks and entry screenings remain required at all facilities. 

Non-COVID-19 inpatients

Screenshot captured via YouTube

Goshen Community Schools is investing  in after-school care and tutoring for students at risk of learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic after receiving a $756,000 state grant.

The school district partnered with KidsCare and the Boys and Girls Club of Goshen to apply for the state’s Student Learning Recovery Grant, which aims to fund local programming that supports students who may have fallen behind during the pandemic. 

 

Gemma DiCarlo / WVPE Public Radio

A South Bend Tribune investigation published July 12 found that South Bend’s housing authority sites are some of the worst in the state. Local activists say residents should be moved out of those buildings before the situation gets worse.

City of Elkhart

The City of Elkhart is making the COVID-19 vaccine available in its departments and offering extra paid time off in an effort to get more city employees vaccinated.

(Read the full release from the city below.)

To increase immunization from the COVID virus and its variants, the City of Elkhart is making it easy and attractive for staff to get vaccinated.

In partnership with Heart City Health, beginning Monday, July 12, the vaccine will be available at various city departments to be easily accessible to staff members.

Gemma DiCarlo / WVPE Public Radio

With affordable housing being a perennial concern in South Bend, one local nonprofit is looking to fill some of the housing gaps using an unexpected material – shipping containers.

ContainArt Community was founded in 2019 with the goal of providing long-lasting, energy-efficient housing to low-income families in South Bend. 

 

Founder Ella D’Amico said even though the homes will be constructed from recycled shipping containers, people won’t be living in metal boxes. 

 

IDOH

All WVPE listener counties are in the “blue” for the second week in a row on the Indiana Department of Health’s COVID-19 tracking map.

 

However, almost three times as many counties are now in the more serious “yellow” category as compared to last week.

Screenshot captured via Zoom

Two years ago, the city of Goshen committed to draft a plan to reach zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. It was one of several environmental goals set by the city’s youth caucus back in 2019.

 

Courtesy Robert Parrish

On June 24th, the Michigan Senate passed a resolution recognizing July 2021 as Dark Sky Awareness Month. 

It’s meant to show support for the state’s dark sky parks, which aim to minimize potentially harmful light pollution for premium stargazing and environmental health.

 

Pixabay

In December 2020, the federal government created the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) to help small businesses that had to shut down due to COVID-19. Now, some southwest Michigan venues are frustrated with the program.

SVOG funding was allocated back in January, but Michigan Radio reports it took until the beginning of June for any Michigan businesses to receive approval. 

 

FILE

A South Bend Schools employee has been charged with two felony counts of child seduction. 

Denise Freitag, a 55-year-old special education tutor at Riley High School, allegedly had sex with a 16-year-old student. 

 

JUSTIN HICKS / WVPE Public Radio

With fewer people needing a COVID-19 test due to the vaccine, Elkhart County is making some changes to its testing sites. 

The free testing site in the Concord Mall parking lot will permanently close at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 30. 

A new drive-up location will open at Elkhart Central Fire Station (500 East St. Elkhart, IN 46516) on July 6. That site will operate from noon to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 9 a.m. to noon on the first and third Saturday of each month.

 

Gemma DiCarlo / WVPE Public Radio

A vacant lot near Four Winds Field could one day serve as affordable housing in downtown South Bend.

Photo courtesy of Grant Beachy Photo / Community Foundation of Elkhart County

Better and more-connected trails could soon be coming to Elkhart County with the new Connect in Elkhart County initiative.

The project, which is meant to fill gaps in the county’s trail system to make it easier for residents to commute and exercise safely, is being led by the Community Foundation of Elkhart County’s Placemaking Committee which aims to create open communities throughout the county.

A release from the community foundation says the goal is to use community input to find ways the trail system can create new development opportunities.

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