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First mayoral debate set

The first Indianapolis mayoral debate featuring incumbent Democrat Joe Hogsett and Republican state Sen. Jim Merritt will be 5:30-9 p.m. Aug. 29 at Crowne Plaza, 123 W. Louisiana St. Visit toregister. Tickets start at $25 and go up to as much as $175 for VIP tickets, which include a private bar and debate watch room. Results from a MIBOR Realtor Association poll will be revealed at 5 p.m. The debate starts at 6:30 p.m.

Historical marker commemorates African American medical pioneer

Dr. Joseph Ward in his military uniform.

Leon Bates discovered Dr. Joseph Ward by accident. While researching for his dissertation about the police in Indianapolis, the history doctoral student at Wayne State University learned the first African American police officer killed in the line of duty in Indianapolis died in a place called Ward's Sanitarium.

Bates never heard of Ward's Sanitarium, so he began researching the facility.

One revelation led to another, and over a few years Bates uncovered the story of the hospital's founder, Dr. Joseph Ward. Ward was a surgeon, entrepreneur, Army medic and pioneer. Ward's story impressed Bates so much that he petitioned and fundraised for a historical marker to commemorate the doctor's life. On Aug. 17, the Indiana Historical Bureau unveiled the marker on the corner of West 21st Street and North Boulevard Place near where Ward's Sanitarium originally stood.

"Once I started to dig in to into this, I thought, 'How in the world did the city of Indianapolis not know who this man was?'" Bates asked.

Born in 1872 to a former slave and an African American who was born free, Ward moved to Indianapolis as a child and worked as a driver for George Hasty, a white doctor. Hasty was so impressed with Ward's work ethic that he paid for his education, including medical school. In 1907, Ward founded Ward's Sanitarium and Nurses' Training School, which was the only place in Indianapolis for African Americans to

receive medical attention or medical training.

At 45 years old, Ward became a medic in World War I. He became the first African American to lead a U.S. Army field hospital and one of two African Americans to earn the rank of major in World War I. Dr. Alice Palmer, Ward's granddaughter who attended the unveiling ceremony, said the mannerisms of a serviceman stayed with Ward for the rest of his life.

"He was always very military," Palmer said. He lined up his brushes and lined up his shoes. They were always shined. And he was a very good human being."

In 1924, Ward assumed leadership of Veterans' Hospital No. 91 in Tuskegee, Alabama. It was the only veterans' hospital in the country for African Americans, so Black soldiers from around the country would travel there for medical attention. Veterans' Hospital No. 91 had over 1,000 beds, making it one of the nation's largest hospitals. This means Ward was not only the first African American to lead a veterans' hospital, but also the first to lead a hospital that large. Despite protests from politicians and the Ku Klux Klan regarding his leadership, Ward held the position for 13 years.

"He does all this between Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education," Bates said. "... Everything he does is at the height of the Jim Crow era in this country, and this man managed to do all these things in one lifetime. If I can do half of what he did, I would be proud of myself."

When Bates petitioned the Indiana Historical Bureau, he expected they would deny his request, but to his surprise the bureau approved. Bates contacted both individuals and organizations to raise $3,050 for the marker. Ward was an American Legion district commander, so Bates contacted the Legion for support.

"It's crucial to us to have members of our organization find a role of service in the community," Rees Morgan, 11th district commander of the American Legion, said. "Dr. Ward epitomized that commitment."

During the marker's unveiling, Bates, Ward's descendants and representatives from the American Legion, the Indiana Historical Bureau and the mayor's office revealed the sign.

"I couldn't believe that as a physician and former health commissioner that I had no knowledge of the wonderful contributions that Joseph H. Ward made in his day," Dr. Woody Meyers, gubernatorial candidate and former Indiana health commissioner, said. "... He is a legend. He is a hero. He is someone everyone in the state of Indiana should know about."

Before the marker, the only place in Indianapolis publicly acknowledging Ward was his government issued gravestone, so Palmer believes Bates' research and the marker revive a lost piece of history.

"I want to thank those individuals and organizations that brought this to fruition," Palmer said. To stand on this ground again is a sacred thing for me and my family. ... I bow to the work of all of you."

Contact staff writer Ben Lashar at 317-762-7848. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminLashar.

IndyGo Red Line will open Sept. 1

After 15 months of construction, news and debate, IndyGo Red Line will open Sept. 1. The bus rapid transit route, which cost $96.3 million, will connect the University of Indianapolis to Broad Ripple via downtown.

Estella Perkins, a frequent bus rider, is a transit ambassador, or a trained volunteer who informs IndyGo riders about public transit. She loves visiting Broad Ripple to walk the Monon Trail, sit by the canal and eat ice cream at Brics. She believes the Red Line will make the trip quicker and easier than the normal bus route. After hearing about delays to the Red Line, Perkins was pleasantly surprised to hear the grand opening date is next month.

"I felt excited and surprised," Perkins said. "... It's going to be big across Indianapolis."

The Red Line will be 13 miles long with 27 stops in both commercial and residential areas. To board the Red Line, riders should go to one of the stops on the route. Those who do not live within walking distance of the Red Line must either drive and find parking near a stop or connect to the Red Line via a different bus route. IndyGo doesn't offer a park and ride option.

IndyGo updated existing bus routes to coincide with the Red Line. For example, the Red Line will replace routes 17 and 22. In addition, route 39 now turns at 38th Street and Central Avenue, travels south on Central Avenue until it turns back to its normal route at Meridian Street. IndyGo's website has a full list of changes.

In the Red Line, 60% of the route will have a

lane just for buses. Cars driving and parking in the dedicated bus lane will be ticketed and possibly towed.

"Because of dedicated lanes, the vehicles can travel between each of the stops more quickly than before," Lauren Day, IndyGo's director of public relations, said. "Not because buses travel faster than the speed limit but because traffic isn't sharing the same lane."

IndyGo will also introduce 14 new, environmentally friendly electric buses for the Red Line. Perkins, who rode the vehicles in an IndyGo Red Line simulation, said the buses offer phone charging stations, free Wi-Fi and monitors informing passengers of the next stop. Perkins' favorite update is not the buses but the new stops. As a 70-year-old, she appreciates how the stops have ramps that are at the same height as the first step of the bus, making access easier for the elderly or those with mobility issues.

The dedicated bus lanes and number of buses will decrease wait times at Red Line bus stops. Mark Fisher, board member of IndyGo and chief policy officer of the Indy Chamber, said some stops regularly had hour wait times between buses. Now buses will arrive at stops every 10 to 15 minutes, with the exception of every 20 minutes Sunday evenings.

"That 15-minute mark is important," Fisher said. "That's when you stop scheduling your life around transit. ou're not afraid of missing the bus because it'll be another hour."

Fisher believes not worrying about waiting an hour for the next bus makes the system more reliable, making commuters to work or school more likely to use it. Riding the bus also can be cheaper than driving, costing $1.75 for a trip or $4 for a day pass, so Fisher believes those without cars will have more access to jobs and schools farther away from their home. In addition, people with cars who do not want to deal with parking and traffic may become more willing to take more jobs in the city because they can use mass transit.

"Transit becomes a mechanism to allow people to access a wider job market and make sure employers have access to a wider workforce," Fisher said.

As part of the opening, all Red Line bus rides will be free in September. Day said IndyGo is offering free rides to encourage former riders and those who have never used public transit to give it a try. People can become familiar with the route, how the buses operate and how to best use the Red Line in their everyday life for free.

"It was important to give a month to help people realize what the new route means to them and give others the opportunity to celebrate and really understand this new service," Day said.

The Red Line is the first of three bus rapid transit lines IndyGo will implement. In 2020, IndyGo will introduce the Purple Line, which will connect Indianapolis and Lawrence. The final line will be the Blue Line, which will go from Cumberland to the airport and will open in late 2023 or early 2024.

Contact staff writer Ben Lashar at 317-762-7848. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminLashar.

Want to learn more?

For more information such as updated routes, prices and how to use the Red Line, visit indygo. net/red-line.

Red Line Schedule

Starting Sept. 1, the Red Line will offer rides at the following times:

Monday through Friday

Every 10 minutes 5 a.m.-9 p.m. Every 15 minutes 9 p.m.-1 a.m.


Every 15 minutes 6 a.m. Saturday-1 a.m. Sunday


Every 15 minutes 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Every 20 minutes 8-10 p.m.

Celebrate the grand opening

To celebrate the Red Line's opening, IndyGo will host a celebration with coffee, doughnuts, remarks from local politicians and live music.

When: 7:30-9 a.m. Sept. 3

Where: The Indiana Statehouse, 200 W.

Washington St. RSVP:

Public meetings for neighborhood input IndyGo will host two sessions where Martindale-Brightwood residents can offer suggestions for improvement. The first meeting with an IndyGo board member and chief operating officer, will be 6:45 p.m. Sept. 10 at 37th Place Community Center, 2605 E. 25th St. The second with IndyGo CEO and vice president of communications and will be 7:15 p.m. Sept. 16 at Original Church of God, 2150 N. Capitol Ave.

Local African American woman doesn't care what the odds are, she's running for president

Leaned up against the kitchen sink in her near northside home, Valerie McCray almost slipped up as she explained why she's putting her career as a psychologist on hold to run for president in 2020.

"If I were in office..." She stopped herself. One of the rules when running for any elected office: Don't dabble in hypotheticals; speak it into existence.

"When I get to office..."

McCray is one of more than 800 people who have filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to run for president. Most of them, McCray included, share two goals with the primary election season coming in February: They're trying to meet state requirements to get on the ballot, and they want to get their name in front of as many people as possible.

McCray, 60, decided about a year ago that she wanted to seek the Democratic nomination. She was working at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, just south of Terre Haute, and thought her professional background could be useful for the nation's highest office.

"How can you not do it?" she said when asked why she's running. "I'm a psychologist. I work in the trenches. ... I'm ground level, so I know what it feels like for the average American person."

McCray left her job early this year to give herself more time to campaign. She has about 35 volunteers in cities across the country, including Detroit, Los Angeles and Atlanta. Her campaign received $2,201 by June 30, according to FEC filings, and she had loaned her campaign $11,520. Like many Democrats, McCray is using ActBlue to raise money.

At some point, McCray admitted, if this doesn't take off like she hopes, she'll have to get back to a normal life. But she still talks like someone who knows they can achieve the seemingly impossible.

"I think that you have to have that kind of confidence in you to be in the race," McCray said. "If you don't have it, you will lose your momentum."

McCray has been focusing her policy talk on student loans, criminal justice and the environment. She said some major candidates have good ideas when it comes to eliminating student debt — more than $1.5 trillion at this point — but doesn't think the country needs to go that far. Instead, McCray would like to see interest-free student loans. She has a similar outlook on global warming, saying a transition to a green economy would create jobs without going as far as a federal jobs guarantee like the one proposed in New York Rep. Alexandria OcasioCortez's Green New Deal.

McCray would also want to pursue some kind of criminal justice "reconstruction" — because she "can't even say 'reform' at this point" — inspired by her time working in prisons and juvenile centers. She mentioned Jeffrey Epstein, the financier and convicted sex offender who recently killed himself in a New York

"We've known from the very beginning what those odds are, and the odds haven't changed very much. ... This is where faith comes in, having faith that things are looking up."

Valerie McCray

City prison while awaiting trial. Epstein pleaded guilty in 2008 to soliciting girls as young as 14 for prostitution but was allowed to leave jail and work 12 hours a day, six days a week. Meanwhile, McCray pointed out, people with much less serious records can be in prison for decades.

Had McCray qualified for the first two presidential debates, or if she qualifies for any in the future, she'll fit in with what candidates have been talking about. Getting on the debate stage in front of a national audience is like a shot in the arm for candidates without much name recognition, although McCray said she's not upset about not making the stage after seeing what she called a "cat fight" from other candidates.

Even as a relatively low-profile bidder, McCray said running for president can be intimidating.

"It's the most humbling, vulnerable position you can put yourself in, to run for president," she said. "People think it calls for a big ego, but really it calls for a big sense of humility."

Going straight for the top has raised some questions, but McCray said it's better like this because the way she sees it, starting low — on the city-county council, for example — and moving up from there creates a situation where "everyone owns a little bit of you."

The next step for McCray's campaign is getting to Iowa, where the caucuses in February will help set the tone for the rest of the primaries leading up to November's general election. As optimistic as she is, McCray isn't delusional about her chances.

"We're against all odds," she said. "We've known from the very beginning what those odds are, and the odds haven't changed very much. ... This is where faith comes in, having faith that things are looking up."

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-8753. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.