The Indianapolis Star from Indianapolis, Indiana on September 26, 2000 · Page 11
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The Indianapolis Star from Indianapolis, Indiana · Page 11

Indianapolis, Indiana
Issue Date:
Tuesday, September 26, 2000
Page 11
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3 t:l k The Indianapolis Star Tuesday, September 26, 2000 LOTTERIES 2 MARION COUNTY 3 OBITUARIES 4 -FOR THE RECORD 5 WEATHER 6 Testing shows library has 4 strains of mold Books will be removed from Westfield branch. Page 2 InfoLine: 624-INFO (4636) Online: Judge dismisses murder charge in 16-month-old girl's death By Mike Ellis STAFF WRITER A Marlon County judge Monday dismissed a murder charge against an Indianapolis man accused of suffocating a 16-month-old girl. But Tracy F. Niblack, 32, won't leave jail anytime soon. He also faces a murder charge in the 1997 death of a Westside motel manager. Marion Superior Court Magistrate Mark, Renner, who heard Niblack's one-day bench trial Monday, said the prosecution's largely circumstantial case did not prove Niblack killed Chelsea Stephens on Sept. 23, 1998. "While I am suspicious, and while an ap parently healthy 16-month-old died while in the care and custody of Mr. Niblack, I am not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt," Renner said. Chelsea's family and their supporters erupted in outrage at the decision. Some screamed "baby killer," and deputies had to shove at least one person out of the courtroom. The little girl's mother, Lana Stephens, collapsed in the hall outside the courtroom. The judge pointed out that much of the state's evidence could be interpreted In various ways. For example, several witnesses testified that Niblack appeared agitated af- See CHARGE Page 2 Tracy F. Niblack, 32, still faces a murder charge in the 1997 slaying of a West-side motel manager. Board to vote on arming officers Supporters push plan allowing all members of IPS force to carry guns; decision set for tonight. By Kim L. Hooper STAFF WRITER As about 70 people were attending an Indianapolis Public School Board meeting, Matthew Stumm prepared Monday night for his job at the Danville Police Department, an assignment miles from Downtown Indianapolis. . Stumm left his job as an IPS police officer seven months ago to join the Hendricks County law enforcement agency. He took a $9,000 pay cut. He says he had to. Personal safety concerns prompted him to leave the state's largest school district where he'd been a policeman for three years. The 26-year-old was shot at while working at Northwest High School. At the time, Stumm was one several unarmed officers assigned to the Westside school. "I was just kind of naive to think that I could do my job as a police officer without a gun," he says. "I got tired of the idea of not being able to defend myself." His former colleagues have been making a similar argument, though they have yet to persuade critics of a proposal to put Clock 9 mm semi-automatic handguns in the hol sters of IPS officers at all times. Supporters and opponents again weighed in on the controversial issue before the seven-member School Board on Monday night. In two hours, the board heard from 37 people, most of whom favor the proposal. "These men and women are not rent-a-cops, as some students and parents call them. How can we expect them to go in with a stick and a can of spray?" said Robert Bowman, an Indianapolis minister. The board will vote on the measure tonight. Five votes are needed to change the current policy, which forbids most of the 87 police officers from carrying firearms in See BOARD Page 5 Cultivating a balance State examines possibilities for protecting agricultural land from urban encroachment L Ruffled feathers: The neighboring poultry operation is unpopular in Som-merwood. XI By Welton W. Harris II STAFF WRITER OBLESVILLE, Ind. It's the classic case of which came first the chickens or the subdivision. When Doug Adamson bought 5 acres north of 146th Street off Allisonville Road, he assumed no one would care if he raised chickens because he was in the country. Wrong. What developed illustrates a continuing national concern In the agricultural community: how to protect against the loss of farmland to urban sprawl. Currently, 20 states have farmland protection programs administered at either at the state or local levels. Indiana is studying similar options. At the direction of Gov. Frank O'Ban-non, the Hoo-sier Farmland Preservation Task Force was formed in 1997, which subsequently led to the creation of the Indiana Land Resources Council in 1999. The council, which is expected to have an executive director in place next week, has been reviewing how other states have protected highly valued agricultural land. One option is to create financial Incentives for farmers to keep farmland from urban encroachment. Adamson believes such a policy could have helped him, by keeping a buffer between his property and Hamilton County's urban sprawl. "It was all farmland out here, so I was kind of surprised when the city limits sign went up on Allisonville Road next to my property," he said. Adamson, who rented the property almost two years before purchasing the wooded tract In 1997, said he never knew he was that close to Noblesville. See BALANCE Page 2 Doug Adamson bought his tract in 1997, unaware that the city had annexed the adjoining land and houses would go up a year later. f' " w 1 i ,nw'"wmftwv wwwwwwwwit "mvmmmwiMMHi ' 1 "w py wwwr1 111 " 1, x-f ; i : V ,f 5 v ;' VIC-kIhJ 7 , .1,, , , r c 1 , " 3x1 " 1 .' ' V Staff Photos Tim Halcomb City meets country: Doug Adamson says a state farmland protection program could have prevented the conflict between his needs and the desires of his new neighbors in Noblesville. Authorities await autopsy results in death at facility Staff Report ARCADIA, Ind. Authorities who already are investigating a privately owned facility for mentally disabled adults now are awaiting autopsy results in the recent death of one of its residents. Hamilton County Coroner Mark Roberts said Monday night he is awaiting laboratory results before determining the cause of death of Michelle Ryan, 31. Ryan was pronounced dead late Friday after being taken from New Ho- No columnist Ruth Holladay has the day off. '1 rizon Developmental Center to River-view Hospital in Noblesville, Roberts said. "Nothing has been ruled out at this point," he said, including reports that Ryan died of cardiac arrest or that she died of asphyxiation. Prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp said investigators were trying to determine whether something deprived Ryan of oxygen. She said it was too soon to determine whether foul play had been Involved. Roberts said there was some bruising around Ryan's neck, but he wanted a pathologist's autopsy to determine the nature of the bruising. New Horizon administrators could not be reached for comment. The death investigation comes on the ( heels of battery charges filed this month by Leerkamp's office against two New Horizon employees. On Sept. 5, employees Dartanyon Woodard and Wendy Fleenor were charged in Hamilton Superior Court 3 with misdemeanor battery in July 2 incidents involving two clients. According to court records, Fleenor, 24, of Kokomo, was on a patio when a client tried to get back into the building. Fleenor shoved the man in the chest and he fell backward, a witness told police. The witness, who is an employee, also said another client was scooting herself across the patio toward the door when Woodard, 21, of Kokomo, shoved her away. Woodard struck the woman with his hand on her upper leg, according to allegations in court documents. Other employees brought the clients back into the building. The lack of visible injuries in both cases is why the charges are misdemeanors, Leerkamp said. Fleenor told police that she had to redirect a client on several occasions that day and lost her patience, court records show. Ryan's death also comes as the Hamilton County prosecutor's office and Sheriffs Department are investigating deaths and reports of neglect at the Arcadia facility. Last year, the Indiana State Department of Health asked that Medicaid certification for the facility be canceled. New Horizon was fined $17,000 for allegedly falling to protect residents from physical abuse and neglect. Peterson rcste it Mayor Bart Peterson said a GOP provision on officials' pay infringed on his Republicans uncertain whether they'll attempt to override line-item rejections, the first of their kind by an Indianapolis mayor. By Doug Sword STAFF WRITER In an unprecedented move, Mayor Bart Peterson on Monday vetoed three changes that Republicans made to the city's budget. By making use of his line-item veto, Peterson removed the GOP changes without putting the S506 million budget at risk. "I don't take this lightly," he said. "But in each of these cases, I think it was a clear-cut case of provisions that should not be law." . On the most controversial veto, Peterson accused Republicans of attempting to micromanage his office through a provision that would have regulated the salaries of the administration's highest-paid officials. It was the first time a mayor has vetoed any part of the city's annual budget, according to Council President Beurt SerVaas, a Republican, and Councilman Rozelle Bovd, who leads the Democratic caucus. power. SerVaas and Boyd have been on the council since the governments of Marion County and Indianapolis were combined under Uni-Gov in 1970. Peterson said he drew no joy from brandishing his veto pen. But at least one council member reveled in the exercise of Democratic power after 30 years of Republican control of the council and the mayor's office. "You understand (Republicans) created Uni-Gov to have a strong mayor and a weak council," said Councilman Frank See VETOES Page 2 2nd District race is one of details, debate indicates Republican Pence, Democrat Rock agree on many issues in congressional race, but they differ slightly on taxes. By Dan McFeeley STAFF WRITER COLUMBUS, Ind. They debated the pressing Issues of the day, even disagreeing on a few points. But after 90 minutes, it was difficult for some voters to tell the Democrat from the Republican in the 2nd Congressional District. Republican "Mike Pence and Democrat Bob Rock agree on so many things r defense spending (tn favor), gun control (against), abortion (against) and the "marriage penalty" tax (against). "I was struck by just how conservative this district is," said Ben Jackson, a Columbus resident who watched the debate at the downtown Commons Mall with his wife and son. "Even the Democrat sounded like a Republican." The first 2nd District debate also included Independent candidate Bill Frazier, who kept the discussion lively with suggestions like paying top teachers $100,000 and using a massive windmill system to produce energy. But most of the discussion In this race focused on the same issues Democrats and Republicans debate across the country: education, taxes and defense spending. The 2nd District seat was vacated by David Mcintosh, the GOP nominee for governor. National party officials see the race as key to controlling the House of Representatives. ( , See DEBATE Page 5

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