A Day in the Life of Tippecanoe County

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Early 1996

The Imagination Station opened in a former Indiana Gas Company building at Fourth and Cincinnati streets. It offered a hands-on, children-of-all-ages museum containing exhibits, demonstrations, and workshops intended to foster learning in science and technology. Several foundations, businesses and agencies helped get the venue started, with particular help from grants from General Telephone and Electronics, CINergy Foundation and Eli Lilly Company. ASSET, Inc., a non-profit organization, acronym of which stands for Association of Space, Science, Engineer and Technology, will operate the Imagination Station.


Mayor Dave Heath gave a high priority to park maintenance in his first year in office. He called for a seven-member parks task force which recommended replacing and expanding Columbian Park swimming facilities. Two-thirds of the city offices Heath took over from James F. Riehle got new bosses.


Tippecanoe School Corporation announced plans to build two elementary schools, Burnett's Creek and Wea Ridge, for about $26 million. A citizens' group challenged the decision with petitions. TSC countered with another petition drive and secured twice the number of names as the protesters. The bond issue proceeded, and construction of the schools began with plans to open them in 1999.


February 8

February 8, 1996

Dressed in camouflage caps and surplus military field jackets, founders of the Tippecanoe County Citizens Militia held an organization meeting outside MCL Cafeteria in West Lafayette. Organizer Frank Wilkins' refusal to provide his home address and telephone number caused the meeting to be bumped from the Tippecanoe County Public Library. In April, about 30 people showed up at a Militia meeting and passed a petition seeking withdrawal of FBI forces from a standoff in Montana. By May, Militia attendance was 10.


April, 1996

Wal-Mart opened a 123,000 square foot store off U.S. 52 northwest of West Lafayette. Other retailing developments followed: Five local investors bought the struggling Market Square Shopping Center, opened in 1958, and 10 new businesses moved in as part of $1 million in renovations. And north of Indiana 38, Lafayette Marketplace, a development anchored by a Kmart store, opened with 350,000 square feet of retail space.

April, 1996

The Indiana High School Athletic Association, in a break with tradition, voted to end the one-class basketball tournament system started in 1911, and switch to multiple-classes in the 1997-98 school year. Boys and girls basketball, volleyball and baseball teams would be grouped in four classes according to school enrollment size, softball teams into three classes.

April 25

April 25, 1996

Athletic Director Morgan Burke introduced Nell Fortner as the new Purdue University women's basketball coach, succeeding Lin Dunn. Dunn and assistant coach MaChelle Joseph were fired a week after Dunn finished her ninth season at Purdue, and compiling a 206-68 record. Fortner had coached at two universities, and was an assistant with the USA National Team.


June, 1996

Corissa Yasen became Purdue University's first national champion since 1992 when she won the NCAA heptathlon title. Yasen finished her track career with nine all-America honors, and as a 10-time Big Ten Conference champ - the most decorated athlete in Purdue history.

June 4

June 4, 1996

Facing light rain mixed with sun, 25 "community heroes" carried the Olympic Torch through Greater Lafayette. They were cheered by thousands of spectators, many of whom were given time off from their jobs to witness the historic happening. The flame's journey began in Olympia, Greece. Its zig-zag run across the U.S. began April 27 in Los Angeles and ended 42 states and 15,000 miles later, on July 19, in Atlanta, Ga.

June 30

June 30, 1996

Robert Myers' resignation as superintendent of Lafayette School Corporation took effect. Myers took over the public school system in Cheyenne, Wyo. In a controversial move the LSC board promoted associate superintendent Ed Eiler without conducting a national search.


August, 1996

Linnwood Elementary School in Lafayette inaugurated Lafayette School Corporation's first experiment with a "balanced calendar" schedule, a form of year-round instruction.

August, 1996

The professional Lafayette Leopards baseball team won its third straight minor league championship in a series against Anderson.

August 20

August 20, 1996

The Black Cultural Center's planned orientation for Purdue University freshmen was disrupted when several members demanded the resignation of BCC director Renee Thomas, and protested her firing of assistant director Bobby Ratcliffe. Students, Ratcliffe and former BCC director Antonio Zamora had questioned Thomas''qualifications for the job. Police had to be called to quiet the protest. Another orientation was held without incident on Aug. 30. The Purdue administration backed Thomas, and said her hiring was handled fairly.


October, 1996

Purdue University broke ground on a $6.5 million project to renovate the North Golf Course. Famed golf course designer Pete Dye was involved in the plans for the project financed in part by a gift from the family of the late Emerson E. Kampen. The course first opened under private ownership in June, 1930.

October 6

October 6, 1996

Seven volunteers from the International Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades needed about two and one-half hours to paint over such unsightly graffiti scrawls as "Sabaretto," "Jess Loves Gretchen," "PU Crew," and "Go Irish" on the Norfolk & Southern Railroad's iron bridge over the Wabash River. This highlighted the first "Graffiti Paint-Out Day" sponsored by the Tippecanoe Anti-Gang Alliance. Other volunteers during the day painted over similarly unsightly graffiti and artwork at 10 other locations.

October 16

October 16, 1996

Purdue University student Jarrod Allen Eskew, 19, of Crawfordsville, shot and killed himself after murdering Wiley Hall dormitory counselor Jay Severson, 27. Investigators said Severson had walked into Eskew's dorm room and found him cutting cocaine. Before Eskew could be arrested he ran, then returned to shoot Severson in the head with a sawed-off shotgun. Eskew barricaded himself in his third-floor room. Police evacuated Wiley Hall residents, attempted to negotiate Eskew's surrender, fired tear gas into the room and stormed in to find that the freshman had taken his own life.


November 4

November 4, 1996

Lafayette City Council members cast an emotion-packed vote that preserved that part of the Human Relations Ordinance that discourages discrimination based on sexual orientation. The amendment was added to the ordinance, amid controversy, in 1993 to protect gays and lesbians, but some Council members considered it unnecessary. Their repeal attempt re-ignited a contentious debate that included Christian conservatives, gay rights and civil rights activists and clergy. Councilmen Ron Alting and Dennis Probasco, early backers of repeal, switched to tip the balance and head off a lawsuit threatened by Citizens for Civil Rights.

November 5

November 5, 1996

Tippecanoe County voters cast 22,556 votes for Republican Bob Dole's bid for the U.S. presidency, and 17,232 for the victorious Democrat Bill Clinton. The county also supported Republican Steve Goldsmith's losing bid for governor against Frank O'Bannon, a Democrat, giving Goldsmith 23,471 votes and O'Bannon 19,841. Republican Ed Pease, running in place of the retiring 7th District Congressman John T. Myers, and with Myers' endorsement, won the election, receiving 25,793 votes in Tippecanoe. The county gave Democrat Bob Hellman 16,578 votes, and West Lafayette Libertarian Barbara Bourland 2,519. State Rep. Sue Scholer, R-West Lafayette, defeated Democrat Jeff Clapper 8,633 to 5,714; Rep. Sheila Klinker, D-Lafayette, defeated challengers Sue O'Brien, a Republican, and Mark Rumps, a Libertarian. They received 13,481 votes, 7,587 votes, and 468 votes respectively. Tippecanoe County farmer Alan Kemper, a Republican drew 6,108 votes to incumbent Democrat Katie Wolf's 5,047, but Sen. Wolf won when all district votes were totaled.

November 5, 1996

Republican wins in Tippecanoe County Commissioner races ordinarily raised few eyebrows. But this year, victories by Kathleen Hudson and Jack Chase set off a series of controveries. Hudson received 17,507 votes out of more than 44,000 cast - well below half. Democrat Paul Clark polled 11,322 votes, but in a shocking surprise Libertarian candidate K.D. Benson received 14,951. Chase, a retired county police officer, defeated Democrat Loran McMaster, 28,070 to 14,456. Chase took office with Hudson and holdover Commissioner Gene Jones in January. Hudson and Jones, conservatives, had the backing of right-wing Christian organizations.

November 5, 1996

Jim Colletto resigned as Purdue University head football coach. His six-year record had been 21 wins, 43 losses and two ties. Academic casualties, player suspensions and inability to recruit top talent contributed to his demise. He shortly signed on as offensive coordinator at Notre Dame University. On Nov. 24, Purdue hired Joe Tiller as head coach. A Purdue assistant in 1983-86, Tiller had been head coach at Wyoming, where in six seasons his teams won 39 games, lost 29, tied one.