Plans for New Tunnel to Reduce Sewage Overflow in Rivers

Written by: Rachel Abraham, Kristine Lindal, Ali Rairigh, Emily Yager

Fort Wayne, Ind.—City Utilities will begin construction of the $240 million Three Rivers Protection and Overflow Reduction Tunnel project in 2017, according to Kelly Bajic, city utilities professional engineer, to reduce the amount of sewage discharged into the St. Marys and Maumee Rivers during storms.

According to a city 3RPORT and Tunnel Works release, the project responds to a federal mandate for the city to reduce combined sewer overflow from 100 billion to 100 million gallons by 2025.

Matthew Wirtz, deputy director of engineering for the city, said during heavy storms, the sewage system overflows and raw sewage mixed with rainwater flows into the river.

According to Bajic, the tunnel will have a capacity of 31 million gallons, although it will primarily be used for conveyance and not storage.

Wirtz said once the tunnel is constructed, the majority of the flow currently discharging into the river will drop into the tunnel.

The 5-mile tunnel will begin south of Foster Park and run to the existing sewage treatment plant on the Maumee River. According to Wirtz, they will drill 150 to 250 feet into the bedrock where the tunnel will run underneath downtown and around Foster Park. The tunnel will convey flows to the wet weather ponds located north of the Water Pollution Control Facility, according to Bajic.

Wirtz said the construction will take 4 to 5 years because they will have to bore the hole underground, come to the surface and connect the existing sewers.

According to Bajic, 13 drop shafts will be constructed to convey the flow from the near surface sewers down into the tunnel.

“The tunnel itself will be done in a few years, but then getting all the rest of that stuff done will take a couple more,” Wirtz said.

Robert Gillespie, associate professor of biology at IPFW, said he and a team of students have been helping the city monitor river water quality during intense events. According to Gillespie, there are some great students who are eager to work on the tunnel project, helping the city accomplish what they couldn’t do on their own.

Gillespie said once the tunnel is completed positive impacts on water quality could be seen after only one season.

Wirtz said in addition to improving river water quality, the tunnel will reduce street and basement flooding and help move water from homes to the treatment plant faster.

“We’ll still have problems in really large storms, but the more normal, small storms will provide much better protection,” Wirtz said.

“It’s trying to fix something that’s been a problem not only in our community but in a lot of midwest communities,” Bajic said. “There’s a lot of different communities that have combined sewer systems, so it’s not just Fort Wayne.”

According to Bajic, the project is currently in the design phase and the next step for the project is getting documents ready for the bidding process by the end of Fall 2016.

Jefferson Pointe is Home to All Your Holiday Needs

Photo credit: Riley McCullough

December is a month full of shopping, eating and most of all, holiday cheer. With the holidays and end of the year happening simultaneously, most people find themselves overwhelmed with things they need to get finished rather than enjoying the holiday season.

Having a place that offers it all, shopping, eating and cheer, is something that many people would cherish in this fast-passed world we live in. Luckily for Fort Wayne, that place exists: Jefferson Pointe.

Jefferson Pointe offers a wide variety of over 60 retail stores, boutiques and restaurants for all your holiday shopping and eating needs. But, Jefferson Pointe also offers a complete holiday atmosphere like no other.

Brett Gauger, resident of Fort Wayne, said visiting Jefferson Pointe this time of year is “enchanting.”

Katrina Newman, property marketing manager for Jefferson Pointe, said planning for the holiday transformation begins six months in advance, but the actual transformation of the shopping center does not begin until the end of October.

Newman said besides the typical holiday lights and décor, there are three main holiday aspects at Jefferson Pointe: live reindeer, photos with Santa and their title-holding Christmas tree.

The live reindeer are at Jefferson Pointe every Saturday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. They are located between Simply Mac and Victoria’s Secret. Newman said guests are encouraged to bring their own cameras for when they meet the reindeer.

The reindeer are also at Jefferson Pointe for extra hours on Christmas Eve from noon to 2 p.m.

Santa is located in the play area next to Barnes and Noble. Newman said Santa is ready to meet and take pictures with visitors Monday through Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. After meeting Santa, there are photo packages available for visitors to purchase.

Santa, like the live reindeer, is also at Jefferson Pointe for extra hours on Christmas Eve from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There are four miles of lights that wrap the trees at Jefferson Pointe, and Jefferson Pointe is home to the tallest synchronized tree in Indiana.

“The tree is 48 feet tall, and the star on top of the tree is 4 feet tall,” Newman said.

The tree features nightly shows from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Newman said these shows occur every half hour.

“There are six different shows with different songs each show,” Newman said.

This year, Newman chose to add something new. According to Newman, each show is performed with three Christmas songs followed by Star Wars’ theme song. Newman said she decided to incorporate Star Wars’ theme song because of the new Star Wars movie release on Dec. 18.

“My family makes it a priority to stop and watch,” Gauger said. “After shopping, we will grab a hot drink from Starbucks and enjoy the show.”

This is the third year for the synchronized Jefferson Pointe Christmas tree. Each year Newman said they continue to add more holiday aspects that add to the overall holiday atmosphere. Newman said this year new lights were added to both the tree itself and the surrounding trees.

“The tree is definitely making its way to become a Fort Wayne holiday icon,” Gauger said. “It would not surprise me in the years to come that the JP [Jefferson Pointe] tree is as recognizable as the Santa on Main.”

The tree is lit on the second Saturday of November at 7 p.m. Newman said they choose to light the tree early in order to not make visitors choose which lighting ceremony in Fort Wayne to go to.

Newman said this year’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony was “packed.”

“We are up substantially,” Newman said. Only a week into December, numbers are already showing a 26,000 visitor increase for December 2015 compared to December 2014’s visitor count. Newman said this increase in visitors is great not only for the holiday offerings but for the stores in general.

Amanda Prindle, employee at Jefferson Pointe, said she thinks this upcoming weekend will be the busiest of December.

“The weather has been great, and it is the final countdown for shoppers,” Prindle said. “Shoppers and tree-goers will flood JP [Jefferson Pointe] this weekend, I am sure of it!”

Newman said the tree will switch from synchronizing Christmas music to synchronizing “party” music to celebrate the new year beginning Dec. 26. The Christmas tree stays lit through Jan. 10.

Whether it is shopping, eating or snapping photos with Santa, Jefferson Pointe is the place that accommodates your holiday needs. Jefferson Pointe is located between Illinois Road and West Jefferson Boulevard in Fort Wayne, Ind. For more information about store hours or directions, please visit:


Tasting Wine the Simple Way, the Only Way


Pictured above: Wine barrel where the wine is aged and wine tanks where the wine is made at Two EE’s winery. Photos by Sarah Goodman.

The “pop” of a cork coming out of a freshly opened bottle of wine is enough to get most wine lovers excited about pouring themselves a glass. But is simply sipping wine enough to get a fulfilled wine drinking experience?

“Actually, tasting wine is so much more than a lot of people think,” Eric Harris, owner and wine maker at Two EE’s Winery in Huntington, Ind., said. “It’s a simple process but most just drink wine, not actually taste the different elements of it.”

Agreeing with Harris, Gary Skeel, owner of Wine Down Tasting and Tapas in Fort Wayne, said the proper wine tasting process is a simple one that many people do not practice.

Skeel said the appropriate wine tasting steps are the “five S’s: sight, swirl, smell, sip and savor.” Harris said the same five steps as the most substantial parts in properly tasting wine.

“Sight is a very important step,” Harris said. “You have to visually inspect the wine to insure that it isn’t flawed.”

Skeel said if a wine has a brown tint to it, chances are that the wine has gone bad. Another indicator of wine being flawed is if the cork falls apart or breaks easily when opening the bottle.

The next step in wine tasting is swirling the wine. “Swirling wine in the glass allows the wine to open up,” Skeel said. “Red wines need to open up more than whites do, so you don’t always need to do this step with white wines.”

“I always make sure to swirl my wine before tasting it,” Brittainy Ellis, a wine enthusiast, said. “Swirling the wine lets me see if the wine is a big bodied wine and how intense it will be on my palate.”

According to Paul Gregutt, author of the online magazine article, “How to Taste Wine” from, Swirling the wine can reveal which wines are riper, more mouth filling and dense.

After swirling the wine in its glass, smell the wine’s aroma. “Surprisingly, smelling the wine is something that people often skip,” Harris said.

There are three types of wine aromas that are identifiable according to Madeline Puckette, author of the online blog, “Learn How to Taste Wine & Develop Your Palate” from

There are primary aromas that carry fruit, herb, and floral notes, secondary aromas that come from the yeast of the wine and finally tertiary bouquets that smell like oak, vanilla, spices or nuts.

Skeel said the smelling step in wine tasting is vital because it can help you determine if the wine is sweet or dry. People who enjoy sweet wines will typically want to smell fruity aromas compared to those who enjoy dry wines, who will want to smell more nutty and oak scents.

After smelling the wine, take a sip, absorbing the flavor and structure. “Tasting is something that we do naturally,” Harris said. “But actually thinking about the different flavors of the wine is key to knowing if you really like it or not.”

Savoring, or thinking about what is tasted, the wine is the final step. This is when it is determined if the wine is one that is enjoyable, as well as if it is balanced.

“Balance is everything when I’m drinking wine,” Ellis said. “If the wine is out of balance to me, then I don’t really enjoy it.”

“Acidity, body, mouth feel, bitterness and sweetness are all things that determine if a wine is balanced or out of balance,” Harris said. “If all of the key elements aren’t in harmony to whoever is tasting the wine, then the wine is out of balance.”

Overall, the key to wine tasting is finding wines that are enjoyable. If all of the proper steps are covered while tasting wine, then finding wines that are enjoyable should be no problem, Skeel said.

Now that the proper steps for wine tasting have been identified, experiment with various types of wine to discover the right one. Cheers!

House Fires: They Can Happen to Anyone

Above: The Fort Wayne Fire Department offers home fire inspections and suggests that families have a plan in case of a house fire. Photo by Erin Martin.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – When Maddie Clay’s mother had woken pre-dawn hours on Nov. 21, 2014 to retrieve the family dog from downstairs, she saw smoke coming from the basement’s utility room and she immediately headed back upstairs to the 11 people sleeping there.

The night before, Clay’s father was finishing up a project that involved staining a door and when he was done, he set the rag down that he had been using for the night and headed upstairs. No one could have expected that mixed with the dry air, that same rag would spontaneously combust near a piece of plywood in the utility room and create a fire in the Clay’s basement.

“A fire can happen any time of year at any time of day, but there does happen to be an increase in house fires in the winter because of people turning on their heat and gas in their homes or even building a fire in their fireplace if it hasn’t been properly cleaned,” said Captain Dave Meadows of the Fort Wayne Fire Department and Safety Education Division. “Preparing for a fire is extremely important to plan for your safety, and your family’s safety too.”

“Once my mom woke up my dad and he became aware of what was happening, he woke up the house with a shout to get everyone up and within 30 seconds everyone had their coats and were by the back hallway,” said Clay.

With no initial plan or meeting place, the Clay family quickly had to decide what to do right then and there which led to the decision to meet in the cul-de-sac of their addition while a family member called 9-1-1.

“Make copies of important documents and pictures or keep the originals and place them in a fire safe box that you can keep in an accessible place,” said Cpt. Meadows on what to do in preparation for a house fire.

Brooks Huffer, a second-generation captain of the Warsaw Fire Department, has had his experience with house fires. “Keep an eye on your appliances – dryer, washer, toaster, and especially any heaters or your furnace,” said Huffer. “They are likely to catch fire if the lint trap is not cleaned out, crumb tray emptied periodically, and so on.”

Clay’s family did not have a fire extinguisher nor had they checked their smoke detectors recently. Both Cpt. Meadows and Cpt. Huffer suggested having a full fire extinguisher on hand, as well as checking your smoke detectors once a year.

“New smoke detectors are wireless and send corresponding signals to the other smoke alarms in your home, meaning if one goes off they will all go off making it difficult to ignore,” said Cpt. Meadows.

Cpt. Huffer said young children sleep deeper, making it more difficult for them to be woken up in the case of an emergency.

“Children 15 years old and younger sleep through 85% of smoke detectors because they do not hear them which is why it is extremely important for families to come up with escape plans,” said Cpt. Huffer.

Both captains expressed families should create multiple plans and practice them for different situations such as an instance where the door is too hot to open or climbing from a window. In cases where they are separated, family members must know where to meet – by a mailbox, a specific tree, or even at a neighbor’s house.

“If it’s predictable, it’s preventable,” said Cpt. Huffer. You can call the Fort Wayne Fire Department at (260) 427-1478 and ask about a home fire inspection or visit for more information on how to prepare for a fire.

Seasonal Camping: Where to Go and What to Do

Warmer months have come and gone, and you begin to notice the trees are changing colors. Residents of northern Indiana are beginning to take shelter as winter is coming, but for some fall is the time of year to enjoy the change of the outdoors.

Fall camping can be an enjoyable pastime for some, and northern Indiana has the resources for many to go to and enjoy the fall season. Being educated on where to go, what to do and what to bring are essential to any successful camping trip.

As residents of northern Indiana know, weather can change any second. In October, weather is starting to change quickly and to know when to go fall camping. According to a foliage report by Susan Mckee, the peak of fall colors changing is during the second and third week of October. These weeks would be the most ideal time for you to enjoy the fall colors and weather.

With the October setting in mind, you have to decide on where to go. In northern Indiana, there are so many places for you to go camping and enjoy the fall weather with activities. Pike Lake Campground in Warsaw, Ind., can give everyone the ability to do a lot of activities during the fall months.

Shaun Gardner, the maintenance director of the Warsaw Parks and Recreation department, which is involved with the campground, has suggestions on what activities campers can do while there.

“When campers stay at the campground, there is a lot of things for them to do,” Gardner said. “Since we are right next to a lake, campers can go fishing, kayaking, boating and so on.”

What if a fall camper wants to enjoy other activities like hiking, sitting around a campfire or wanting to be completely engulfed by nature? There are other places like the Salamonie Reservoir, Pokagon State Park and Chain O’Lakes State Park, all in which are within driving distance from Fort Wayne.

Quinten Stamper, a local and recreational camper said he has been to Salamonie Reservoir and Pokagon State Park, said that he enjoys three different activities that he does when he goes fall camping.

“Literally, I will hike any trails there might be,” Stamper said. “Being out and enjoying cooked meals over a fire is great. Being around a campfire, fishing and hiking are the simple things I enjoy a lot.”

When Stamper talks about making campfires, fishing and going hiking, you must also think about what essentials they might need to bring on their fall camping trip. Brysten James, an expert hiker guide in Washington, has advice on what you might need on a fall camping trip.

“General camping for one’s needs are a tent, sleeping bag, layers of clothing, hiking boots, jet boiler, water filter pump and food,” James said. “You also need things like a knife, hatchet, matches and fire starter. Having a hiking backpack can help you carry these things.”

Other things that you might consider bringing on a trip include fishing pools, kayaks and bikes James said. Everything depends on how you want to go camping and what you want to enjoy which he says, “can be an endless list.”

Now that you know what the weather will be like in October and how to prepare for your fall camping trip, it is time to gather your supplies and head out. If you want more information, you can go to, which can help you find other trails, activities and getaway ideas for your fall camping trip.

Fright Night Invades Downtown

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Fort Wayne’s Downtown Improvement District is holding their eighth annual Fright Night on Saturday, Oct. 17. With over 25 activities for people to enjoy throughout the day and evening, Fright Night has something for all ages!

Activities will begin at 9 a.m. at the Allen County Public Library Plaza with the “Fright Night Photo Op.” A spooky backdrop and a green screen will be a part of the photo op where you can morph yourself into the spooky or frightful background of your choice.

“ShadowCon is one of the new features for this year’s Fright Night,” events manager Megan Butler said. “It is a Paranormal Conference being presented by the Fort Wayne Community Schools ParaSisters at the Grand Wayne Convention Center from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.”

Beginning at 5 p.m. is the Car Show Spooktacular located at the Community Center. This event is free and will give awards to the top six people with the best decorated vehicles. There will also be two costume contests, one for children and one for adults.

The afternoon has several activities for ages as young as three and up. “There are some great kid-friendly activities at the Community Center starting at 1 p.m., including a special performance of “Which Witch” by the Fort Wayne Youtheatre,” Butler said. She said having kids herself, she knows these activities are great for all ages.

Another event at Fright Night is the “Zombie Walk.” This year’s “Zombie Walk” begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Allen County Public Library Plaza.

Stephanie Wilson has been involved in Fright Night for three years, but says her favorite part of Fright Night is the “Zombie Walk”.

“I enjoy doing my hair crazy, putting on ghostly makeup and fake contacts, but I am looking forward to the new Zombie Machine they have that will get me ready before the walk,” Wilson said.

“Last year’s ‘Zombie Walk’ had roughly 6,000 people involved, but this year we will have anywhere from 7,000 to 8,000 including Fort Wayne Ballet dancers, a fire breather, a juggler, and more,” Butler said.

If you plan to be involved in multiple activities, be sure to look for the Spooky Shuttle, a free trolley that goes all over downtown to other activities throughout the day.

Also, be on the lookout for the Headless Horseman at the Old Fort with the Lantern Tour anytime between 6 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

“My friends and I enjoy the Lantern Tour after the ‘Zombie Walk’,” Wilson said. “The original gate of the Old (Fort) is still there so it makes it seem so spooky! You’re given a candle and a guide through the Old Fort and they take you to another time era.”

If you are looking to wind down after the day, enjoy the Rocky Horror Picture Show for people 17 and up which will be playing at 9:15 p.m. at the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory.

These are just some of activities available at Fright Night. “No matter what your age is or what your budget is, there is something for everyone where it’s pet-friendly, college-friendly, or kid-friendly,” Butler said.

A new development Butler was excited to share was the idea for a Fright Night guide that will become available Oct. 15 in the Journal Gazette and the News-Sentinel. This guide will include a parking map, map of activities and the details for each one.

For more information on the 2015 Fright Night, visit