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Journal Gazette
Tonight’s fireworks display downtown will bring to an end the 45th annual Fort Wayne Newspapers Three Rivers Festival.



Floating to a Three Rivers Festival finale

The Fort Wayne Newspapers Three Rivers Festival, the city’s biggest community celebration, ends with a bang today. The Fireworks Finale held downtown at 10 p.m. marks the closing of the 45th annual festival.

This festival included all of the hometown favorites: Lutheran Health Network Parade, Art in the Park, the Downtown Midway, Chalk Walk, concerts and (Junk) Food Alley.

But one of the most exciting things about this year’s festival is the long-awaited return of one of the most cherished events in the festival’s history: the Raft Race.

Festival officials, over the vociferous protests of residents, had to put an end to the popular river-focused event 15 years ago because of liability concerns. The rules for the revived race require all participants to remain on the raft at all times, to observe strict safety guidelines as well as be respectful of the river.

The rafts sail beginning at 11 a.m. today, with prime viewing areas from the riverbanks north of downtown or from any of the bridges.

Daniels’ different tune

Email directives from then-Gov. Mitch Daniels show he held only contempt for historian Howard Zinn and his view of American history from an untraditional perspective. But Daniels at the same time was eager to share the views of the co-author of “The Bell Curve,” a book that has generated as much debate as Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States.”

Daniels, now president of Purdue University, in 2009 distributed copies of Charles Murray’s “Real Education” to members of the Indiana Education Roundtable. Among the book’s assertions is that too many students go to college and that America’s future depends on an elite class.

And as if to poke his critics after complaints were raised, Daniels included “Real Education” on his holiday list of book recommendations in 2009.

Moreover, an ABC News investigation in 1994 found some more troubling information about “The Bell Curve.”

Over the 10 years preceding the book’s publication, according to public documents, researchers cited in the book received more than $3.5 million in funding from the Pioneer Fund, an organization which since 1937 had promoted the study of racial purity as an ideal.

The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the Pioneer Fund’s ideology as “white nationalist.”

A little tax restraint

The South Bend Redevelopment Commission is playing against the tax-and-spend stereotype that some place on government agencies. On Thursday, commission leaders announced they would not collect an increment tax from the Erskine Village Development area next year and will close the tax-increment financing district 20 years ahead of schedule.

The fund holds $5.8 million, which is more than enough to pay the $4.65 million in outstanding debt associated with the development. Erskine Village includes Target, Old Navy and TJ Maxx. The TIF was otherwise scheduled to expire in 2034.

“That’s the philosophy of TIF,” Redevelopment Commissioner Marcia Jones said Thursday. “Get in, get out and return those taxes to the general fund.”

The move to end the TIF district is expected to release about $1.2 million in property tax revenue annually.

A TIF area is a special taxing district where any property taxes generated from new development are collected to pay for a bond for the infrastructure improvements made by local government. It’s not unheard of for local governments to retain a TIF district even after a development project is completed.