Opera house revival

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (10.30.2016)

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Delphi Opera House PDF

After almost a century of slow, steady decay, a determined group revitalized the Delphi Opera House to become a charming, memorable performance space once again. With a longterm plan to make the venue an economic development tool in Delphi, Indiana, I looked at the way the opera house positioned itself for success and the challenges it might face as time goes on.

Venue stages a comeback

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (08.23.2015)

Online version | Print PDF | June 2016 follow-up

Lafayette Theater print PDF

Lafayette Theater print PDF

On my third day as a reporter in Lafayette, I met with two entrepreneurs who had recently assumed management at Lafayette Theater, a cornerstone downtown venue. They told me their plans to lift the national profile of what has long been an underrated and, at times, beleaguered music scene in a town known for engineering and agriculture. What they related to me in that initial meeting felt like a story, but I didn’t know the town well enough to write anything about it immediately.

Six months later, I did. The entrepreneurs were bringing in major musicians, and through historical research, interviews and casual conversations, I contextualized their aim to boost the arts economy and become a regional draw.

Almost a year later, the managers told me the theater had hit a rough patch. Several concerts didn’t sell tickets as they’d thought, and the two scrambled to put together short-term solutions to keep the doors open and book a strong fall slate. That prompted this in-depth follow-up: “After some bumps, Lafayette Theater looks to future.”

Defining Grace after surgery

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (10.25.2015)

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Grace Lorton print PDF

Grace Lorton print PDF

This story came from a reader who emailed me about her granddaughter, 8-year-old Grace Lorton, who underwent surgery for Chiari malformation. After telling her mom about her intense headaches, Grace endured a major operation to correct the structural defect in the back of her brain and skull. Afterward, the third-grader found her energy sapped and any movement of her neck painful.

As I talked to the reader and Grace’s mom, it was evident that the young girl’s strength and the sense of self she found in her hobby — acting — was a powerful story. After the story ran, her family invited me to one of her shows, where I was able to see her passion and talent for her craft.



Winter vegetable sourcing

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (03.06-03.07.2016)

Part 1 online version | Part 1 print PDF | Part 2 online version | Part 2 print PDF

JC-Sweet winter season print front

Winter vegetables: Part 1 print PDF

JC-Winter food business print front

Winter vegetables: Part 2 print PDF

This series began from an oft-asked reader question: If a restaurant says it sources Indiana vegetables during the winter, isn’t it lying?

The answer, as I found out, is a resounding no. While temperatures — especially in the northern half of the state — might be too chilly for conventional outdoor gardens, greenhouses, high tunnels and hydroponic systems provide enough protection for cold-hardy vegetables to grow.

What’s harvested possesses a sweeter flavor — a chef’s dream — thanks to the extra sugar plants produce to arm them against the cold (Part 1). But unpredictable weather and an unbalanced supply and demand pose difficulties for growers, chefs and consumers (Part 2). Part 1 was picked up by The Associated Press and made into a sponsored Facebook post by one of the restaurants featured.

Blind Melon’s chords still ring

JC- (w) Blind Melon print front

Blind Melon print PDF

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (12.27.2015)

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Blind Melon lead singer Shannon Hoon is among Lafayette, Indiana’s most famous home-grown stars. Sitting in the company of Guns N’ Roses’ Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin in the town’s music psyche, Hoon and his band reached the stratosphere of rock when “No Rain” helped its 1992 self-titled album go quadruple platinum.

Hoon died from a cocaine overdose at age 28 in 1995, but his iconic status and band still draw large swaths of fans. When Lafayette Theater announced that Blind Melon was playing shows on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day — a somewhat rare occurrence now that the musicians’ focus has gravitated toward other projects — I took a look at how the band keeps its original fans and brings in new ones.