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C.P. to pay for sheriff's house, jail study

PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2006 8:32 am
by Big Dog

JOHN LUKE | THE TIMES Mayor Dan Klein, center, holds a press conference with Frank Mosko, left, Crown Point economic development director, and Dan Rohaley, a member of the Sheriff's House Foundation board, to announce a renewed push to restore the Old Sheriff's House, in background. The historic building on Main Street on the Square just south east of the old courthouse has been under repair for years. Klein hopes to expedite that process, returning the structure to its original state.

C.P. to pay for sheriff's house, jail study

CROWN POINT | A month after the Sheriff's House Foundation announced plans to assess what structural work the house and adjoining jail need, the city wants to lend a hand.

Mayor Dan Klein and Economic Development Director Frank Mosko said Monday the city, through the Redevelopment Commission, will pay for a study of the South Main Street site's structural conditions and marketing feasibility.

The idea, Klein said, is to hire a structural engineer to determine the building's overall structural integrity and research potential future uses, such as retail, office, commercial or residential. Foundation board members and city officials will review qualifications and recommend a consultant.

The Redevelopment Commission will discuss the proposal at its Jan. 16 meeting and the foundation board is planning to meet about the plan.

While the Old Sheriff's House and jail are not in a tax increment financing district, Mosko said TIF revenue can be used for the study because of its proximity to the district and impact on its economic viability. The study, he estimated, will cost about $15,000.

When asked whether special consideration will be given to the jail cell famed outlaw John Dillinger escaped from, foundation board member Dan Rohaley said he didn't think it was a "hot button" issue anymore.

"We've all matured over the years," he said. "We're not glorifying a criminal."

According to Klein, the Sheriff's House Foundation isn't sure which cell Dillinger stayed in.

Klein also said the decision to get involved in the restoration of the building was spurred on by discussion of a local developer's proposal to build condos next door. But he stressed that the two projects are separate.

Klein has been meeting with foundation members for nearly two years. He hopes the collaboration will strengthen the square.

Though the Sheriff's House Foundation has been rehabilitating the building for the more than a decade, Rohaley said the city's support is unprecedented. The foundation has spent more than $350,000 in private donations on the Old Sheriff's House.

The feasibility study will seek community input on the building's potential uses.

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Judge rules in favor of Dillinger relative

PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 2:01 am
by Big Dog
Judge rules in favor of Dillinger relative

CROWN POINT | The family of John Dillinger has outgunned Lake County tourism officials again in a dispute over his iconic commercial value.

Lake Superior Court Judge John R. Pera ruled this week the Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau has been illegally profiting from the Depression-era gangster's colorful life and artifacts since it opened its Dillinger museum more than six years ago.

Pera ruled Jeffrey G. Scalf, a great-nephew of Dillinger, may continue to seek damages from the county and possession of the museum's artifacts. He owns 75 percent of the commercial rights to the Dillinger persona and never gave permission for its use.

Neither Scalf nor his Indianapolis attorneys could be reached Wednesday for comment.

Speros Batistatos, chief executive officer of the convention and visitors bureau, declined comment Wednesday. His lawyer, Daniel C. Kuzman of Merrillville, said he is likely to ask the judge to delay any trial while he appeals.

The late Superior Court Judge James Danikolas made a similar ruling against the county in 2002, but later reversed himself and withdrew from the case.

Dillinger, one of the most famous American desperados, remains a thorny topic for local officials attempting to cash in on his notoriety in the face of criticism they glorify crime.

The native Hoosier became the country's first Public Enemy No. 1 after a spree of Midwest bank robberies, including the 1933 holdup at the First National Bank of East Chicago, where East Chicago police Officer William Patrick O'Malley was killed.

East Chicago demolished that bank last August.

Authorities later captured Dillinger and lodged him in the old Lake County Jail. Mike Higgins, a former county policeman, said Dillinger was lodged in cell block 1FN on the south side of the lockup.

Crown Point city officials are attempting to preserve the structure, which has stood vacant since the county abandoned it and the building served briefly as a museum in the 1970s.

Dillinger overpowered a guard there March 3, 1934, and drove off in the personal car of then Sheriff Lillian Holley with a county police submachine gun. A machine gun claimed to be that stolen weapon was recovered from the FBI and returned three years ago, but is not on display, Higgins said.

Federal agents caught up with Dillinger outside of Chicago's Biograph movie house, and Agent Melvin Purvis gunned him down in an alleyway just off Lincoln Avenue four months after his jail escape.

Joseph Pinkston collected artifacts from the Dillinger family and opened his own museum in Brown County in southern Indiana a decade ago. The County Convention and Visitors Bureau acquired the collection in 1998 for $417,500.

Pera ruled the Pinkstons and the convention and visitors bureau both used Dillinger's personality without family consent in violation of Indiana's Right of Publicity Statute. The county argued unsuccessfully the publicity law didn't apply in this case.