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PCS staff members test positive for COVID-19 ahead of re-opening

Staff members of Peru Community Schools have tested positive for COVID-19 roughly a week before classes are scheduled to resume.

Superintendent Sam Watkins made the announcement Wednesday in a letter posted to the school corporation’s website.

“Please be assured we are following our screening, exclusion, and reporting policies in our PCS school re-opening plan,” the letter said. “We are working closely with the Miami County Health Department and following the CDC guidelines. All areas were contained, professionally sanitized, and disinfected before staff and students could re-enter.”

Watkins told the Tribune on Wednesday that the “small number” of cases came to light after someone who was not an employee of the school corporation but was in contact with staff on school property in preparation for the upcoming school year alerted authorities that he or she had tested positive for the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

Watkins said he requested screenings of those who had been around the person and the positives were reported.

Though school has not yet started, Watkins said he felt disclosing the information, while also making an effort to protect the privacy of the individuals affected, was the right thing to do.

“We are trying to be forthcoming and transparent as we move toward opening,” he said.

That happens on Aug. 6 when roughly 1,900 students are expected to return to class amid rising numbers through the state and county.

Watkins said roughly 100 of those students have opted for the “temporary virtual option” of learning from home offered as part of the corporation’s re-opening plan.

As of Friday’s update from the Indiana Department of Health, the total number of positive cases in Miami County reported since March sat at 247 cases. There were three new cases reported on Thursday and, as of Friday afternoon, there have been 11 new cases reported since Monday.

The seven-day average positivity rate, which is the percentage of positive tests in the number of tests administered, for Miami County was 3.1 percent between July 18 and July 24, the most recent range for which reliable data is available according to the state website.

The total positivity rate for the county since March is 6.8 percent.

The state seven-day positivity rate, one of the factors mentioned by Gov. Eric Holcomb when he announced his mask mandate last week, sits at 7 percent between the same dates.

United Way announces virtual fundraiser launch

The United Way of Miami County is launching its annual fundraising campaign, but with a few changes this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The event, planned in place of the regular Monte Carlo night, is being called a “virtual Happy Hour” and will be hosted on Aug. 29 from 5 to 6 p.m. on the Elle Belle Boutique Facebook page.

“We ask that you watch as the band, Peter & Company, performs for your entertainment and a few of our board members talk about how our community has come together throughout the spring and summer,” a news release from the United Way said. “During the event commenters can enter to win a $100 gift certificate from the Chamber of Commerce. We would like to thank Elle Belle Boutique and Lisa Stanfield for sponsoring the event.”

Debi Wallick, executive director of the local United Way, told the Tribune on Thursday that she plans on working the week ahead of the event to promote it.

That effort, she said, will look much like the live Facebook roulette spins that locals Terry Smith and Brian Rice hosted early on in the pandemic.

That will see Wallick visiting local businesses whose employees have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and talking with them about ways they may have been helped by the United Way.

“So we want to promote that up until the 29th,” she said.

As part of the promotion, participants will hold signs with hashtag catch phrases that attempt to capture the work the United Way does in the community.

The night of the fundraiser, those who attend the event virtually will be instructed to enter Facebook comments with a similar hashtag in order to enter a chance to win a prize.

Wallick said she would like to raise $5,000 the night of the kick off. The fundraising campaign will run through the end of the year. Progress will be updated on the placard on the courthouse lawn.

For more information follow the Miami County United Way Facebook page or visit

Work begins on projects funded by state grants

Work has begun on one of two city paving projects announced early this year.

The City of Peru will begin the process of paving North Broadway on Monday, 7/27,” the Mayor’s Office said in a recent social media post. “Please be prepared for delays in your morning commute. There will be limited access to Daniel, 10th, 8th, Ewing, and 7th Streets.”

Mayor Miles Hewitt told the Tribune in April that paving the section of Broadway between Daniel and Seventh streets was one of the projects funded by a grant the city received earlier in the year.

Peru was among several cities and counties listed as recipients of the Indiana Department of Transportation’s Community Crossings Matching Grant. The city, based on a January application, was set to receive $536,762.42. The city is expected to match a third of that amount for a 25 percent match for the total project.

Crews were out throughout the week this week working on the Broadway portion of the two projects.

The city also plans to resurface West Main Street from Broadway to Kelly Avenue with the money.

“I am not sure sure whether they are going to be starting next week or the week after on West Main Street,” Hewitt told the Tribune on Thursday.

“We will give people down through there plenty of warning,” he said.

The grants are also bringing nearly $1 million to the Miami County Highway Department.

County Highway Engineer Kenneth Einselen told the Tribune in April that that money will help pay for continued resurfacing in the Eagle’s Pointe neighborhood as well as repairs to Mexico Road, a bridge in the Bunker Hill area and resurfacing projects on portions of Blair Pike, Wabash and Logansport roads.

Work at Eagle’s Pointe began Wednesday, according to the County’s Facebook page.

Organizers cancel this year's Christkindlmarkt

Peru’s Christkindlmarkt has joined the list of festivals and celebrations cancelled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Organizers for the area Christmas festival announced the decision on Facebook earlier this week.

“We just didn’t feel we could do it and protect people,” Vicki Draper told the Tribune on Friday.

Draper worked last year with the Miami County Chamber of Commerce, Miami County Economic Development Authority and ReDiscover Downtown Peru to help bring the German-themed event to the area for the first time.

Despite less than ideal weather, they declared that effort a success shortly after its opening weekend and planned to make the festival an annual event.

“Friday was fantastic,” Miami County Chamber of Commerce president Sandy Chittum told the Tribune at the time. “People were dancing in the evening with the music.”

Though cold and drizzly weather tried to put a damper on things the rest of the weekend, Jim Tidd, the executive director of the Miami County Economic Development Authority, said Saturday events, like the scheduled “wiener dog” races, were still a big hit.

“Even despite the weather, we had a great turnout,” he said. “It was very, very entertaining.”

But Draper said those crowds, particularly with certain popular activities, was going to make this year difficult with social distancing guidelines and health concerns likely still lingering.

“We have the skating rink which is crowded,” she said. So too were those wiener dog races and the dancing, she said.

The pandemic has been hard on local events this year, knocking out most the area’s popular summer activities including the Circus City Festival and the annual Cole Porter Festival.

But Draper said the initial success of the first year of the Christkindlmarkt means it will be back as early as next year.

“We will have our first planning session in January,” she said. “We already have people signing up.”

Community Information

To help keep residents informed during the ongoing health emergency, this section is continuing to evolve.

Though many events have been canceled, some, like mobile food pantries and blood drives, will continue to take place. The top portion of this section will list such events and be updated daily. Cancellations and closures of various events, agencies and public buildings will be listed below those items.

Testing available

The state of Indiana, in a partnership with OptumServe Health, has opened a coronavirus testing site at the Indiana National Guard armory at 77 German St. in Peru. Individuals who are symptomatic or COVID-19 or close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 positive patients are eligible for testing. Residents will not be charged for testing and insurance is not required, but those with insurance are asked to bring information with them. For more information or to schedule a test, visit testing or call 888-634-1116.

Events and information

The United Way of Miami County is now accepting grant applications for money from a coronavirus relief fund made possible by the Lilly Endowment. Money from the $225,000 dollar fund is expected to paid out in three phases – for immediate relief to longterm recovery – and is targeted to help “human and social service nonprofits on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.” To apply, visit the local United Way website at

July 29

The Maconaquah School Board will meet July 29 at 6 p.m. in the Maconaquah Elementary Group Room.

Aug. 1

The Grissom Air Museum will host its Annual Warbird Cruise-In Car Show from 7:30 a.m. 2:30 p.m. on Aug. 1. The cost is $15 per car. Gates will open at 9 a.m. for general public with $3 admission for those 12 and older 11 and under will be free. For more information call 765-689-8011 or email at

Aug. 5

The Miami County YMCA will host a blood drive for the American Red Cross from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Community Room. For more information call 765-472-1979

Aug. 6

Loree Brethren Church will host a free chicken noodle dinner on Aug. 6 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at 8483 S. Strawtown Pike in Bunker Hill. Drive thru only. For more information call Marlene Dunn at 765-473-7980.

There will be a talk called Mapping Indiana’s Suffrage History by Melissa Gentry at the Riverview Event Center, 421 W. Canal St from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 6. The event is free and open to the public.

Aug. 7

The annual Tenderloins by Ron Short meal at Blair Ridge Health Campus will be drive-thru only this year The meal at 269 Meadowview Drive will run from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. with a pre-purchase price of $8 or $10 at the door. Menu consists of tenderloin, two sides and a dessert. For more information or to buy tickets call 765-472-8049.

Aug. 8

The Peru Lions Club will hold a tenderloin sandwich carry-out dinner on Aug. 8 from 4 to 7 p.m at the “Old Fire House” on Miami Street. Sandwiches are $6 each.

The 31st annual Denver Days 5K Fun Run will be Aug. 8. Proceeds from the 5K fun run race/walk will go to the North Miami Cross Country teams to help buy personal warmups and fund other expenses. All 5K participants that preregister will receive a t-shirt. All ages are welcome. Check-in will be at the ball diamond pavilion at 7:15 a.m. and participants will walk to the start line as a group. Cost for run/walk is $20.00 for all ages, ages 0-3 are free. Check in starts at 7:15 a.m.

Miami County reminds residents to update dog tags

Dog tags are available at the Miami County Courthouse, Room 107, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. The fee is $5 per dog.

Residents can also mail payment to Miami County Courthouse, 25 N. Broadway, Room 107, Peru, IN 46970. They are asked to enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope and tags will be mailed along with a receipt. Please make checks payable to Miami County Treasurer.

For questions, call 765-472-3901 Ext. 1860.