Normally at this time of year we would be transitioning from the school year to a summer of downtown festivals and other outdoor activities. But this year has become a whole different animal. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Memorial Day festivities such as the Waynedale Parade were cancelled—a big disappointment for us especially since this would have been the first year Austin Knox would have represented our office in his new role as the Wayne Township Trustee.
Memorial Day is often considered the unofficial start of summer, and with summer comes festivals. As our office is so close to Headwaters Park, we usually get to experience the sights and sounds of all those summer gatherings like Germanfest and the Three Rivers Festival. But due to the need for social distancing those events have been put on hold until next year.
Instead of festivals, we are currently in the midst of a major construction project. The city has closed our street, Superior Street, to open the ground and reconfigure the underground drainage system, separating the storm and wastewater sewer lines that used to flow together into the nearby Saint Mary’s River whenever there was a heavy rain. When this work is finished the drainage overflow will go into the new Three Rivers Protection and Overflow Reduction Tunnel, called the Deep Rock Tunnel.
The Deep Rock Tunnel, the largest public works project in the history of Fort Wayne, is being dug by the giant tunnel boring machine called MamaJo (for the three rivers, MAumee, St. MAry’s, and St. JOseph). When finished, the horizontal tunnel will be five miles long, beginning south of Foster Park on the east side of the St. Mary’s River, then running parallel to the river and crossing Swinney Park. After that, it will go through downtown and then run parallel to the Maumee River until it reaches the existing sewage treatment plant located on the Maumee River east of North Anthony Boulevard. MamaJo started digging the tunnel from the east end of the project, and the machine is currently up to the area of Promenade Park, albeit 200 feet below ground. You can follow the progress of this project online at fortwaynetunnel.org.
Finally, we’d like to recognize Hirma Borjas who has been with the Wayne Township Trustee Office for the last 29 years. Hirma, who started here as the sole bilingual investigator, finished up her career and retired at the end of May with a masked and socially-distant celebration. Born in Texas and raised in Chicago, she grew up speaking both English and Spanish. Many of the Hispanic clients she helped at the township could speak some English, but it was often easier for them, especially in a stressful situation, to be able to talk to someone in their native language. Over the years, Hirma helped train many other investigators at our office, and we are proud to say that today we have three more bilingual investigators who are capable of helping our Hispanic clients. Thank you for your service, Hirma, enjoy your retirement and maybe next year take in a summer festival or two.