We strive to be a "Big Little Town". In many respects we may be there. Amy Grant appearing at the Red Skelton Performing Arts Center this past Sunday, a medical facility a big city would be proud of under construction, and new industry. All of which we can be proud to report.
But being a "Big Little Town" usually comes with other issues. The death of a man by gun fire overnight. A homeless man wandering Washington Avenue this morning at 4:10am. The sound of a dumpster diver along Seventh Street in the dark of night.
With the good comes the not so good, but I'm betting the good around here will out weigh the bad.
Just eight days left to vote for or against a new Vincennes City Pool bond issue. Woops - it's not a pool - it's a Water Feature. That is correct. It IS a proposal to borrow money - 3.8 million - to build a new Water Feature at the site of Rainbow Beach Pool.
Three points: 1.) The current Rainbow Beach Pool is toast. It's done. Over. Almost nobody disputes this. The Parks Department did a great job of keeping it going long past its effective unsefulness. (That is one of our traits around these parts...)
2.) The project should be voted on by registered voters within the city limits. With a vote, there should be no griping after the fact - what ever the outcome.
3.) Quality of life issues ARE important to our community. And the pool - woops Water Feature - WILL help to improve our quality of life.
Early voting continues at the Post Office and the polls will open in all 16 Vincennes City Polling Places a week from tomorrow - May 7th.
Last year at this time some folks around these parts were already worrying about a lack or rain for crops already knee high in many fields. This year? Those same folks are worrying about so much rain and flooding that they can't even get into their low lying fields. And the knee high crops - nowhere to be seen. Most fields haven't even been planted at all yet and the ones that have have worried farmers checking the soil moisture hoping that rot won't set in.
Those tractors may be air conditioned, have the most advanced electronics, and be EPA and OSHA approved. The super-seeds may be so perfectly developed by the big seed companys (and so expensive they are sold by the number of seeds - not by the bag). The planning of sales of futures may be down to the minute now.
But the most important farm issue for our most important industry? The weather. Bundle up, take your slicker, and be thankful it isn't last year - at least not yet.
Now we know how long it takes the National Park Service to make a no-brainer decision. About 6 months or so. That's how long the George Rogers Clark Historic Park has been waiting for the appointment of a new Superintendent.
Finally, the folks in Washington made the only choice they should have made - appoint Frank Doughman as the head guy down at the Memorial. Frank is just the guy to keep the Memorial's grounds and programs moving forward. Besides - he looks great in the clothing of the Revolution on the Frontier.
All that talk last year about the worth of the Vincennes City Levee should be put to rest by taking a drive across the Memorial Bridge between downtown and Westport. All those concerns about why we needed to spend money to make sure the levee holds can be seen by looking over the levee into Kimmel Park.
The levee is expensive, but this one year's flooding would be way more expensive than all the levee studies and maintenance if we didn't have a well maintained levee system protecting our town.
This is not just a quality of life issue, but a life or death of our community issue.
WZDM news reports this morning that the State Legislature wants to forgive loans the state made to Charter Schools that have failed. There is a whole bunch of wrong with this - and none of it has anything to do with the Total Wrong of funding private schools with tax dollars.
When did the state get into the business of funding local private schools? By definition they are private. By definition the legeslature is public.
And how can anyone justify in forgiving those terrible loans when a private school fails? When public schools fail the state takes money away from the failing school. When private schools fail it seems like the state will just forget about what they owe.
Maybe I just heard it wrong. Maybe I was dreaming and this is totally false. Maybe I'm too trusting that the our State Legislature is working for all of us. Maybe I need a lobbyist.
Tonight when the Vincennes City council approves $110,000.00 to pay for engineering work they say they didn't approve and in fact said to stop, council members should take one other action: Pass an ordinance that prohibits all city employees and elected city officials from ever taking anything - anything: tickets to Colts games, IU games, lunches, pens, unsolicited telephone calls -anything from an engineering firm. Any engineering firm. Any firm that is selling business to the city. Anyone.
Then they should file a claim against any person or persons who were supposed to have stopped the needless spending for preliminary studies on the overpass project when the project was dead.
Finally, the City Council should post pictures of all members who were on the council then, all department heads who saw the engineers making measurements and blocking traffic on Sixth Street, and the former mayor who ran a great hardware store, but failed to understand how local goverment should - must work. That fancy new web site should do for the pictures.
The comments under the pictures? I'll leave them up to the tax payers who tonight are scheduled to pay for unless wasted spending based on petty political and personal stupidity.
In my 20's I wanted that girl who worked down the hall at the radio station in Terre Haute. We celebrate 40 years of marriage next month.
In my 30's I wanted my kids to behave at church and today THEY probably have the same worry.
In my 40's there was that who thing about staying (really getting) fit. Never mind about the results of that goal.
In my 50's I wanted to keep all my teeth and not have a heart attack. Lost one tooth and didn't have a heart attack except for that incident when the accountant said how much the taxes were one year.
I was having a problem coming up with a goal for my 60's until yesterday. Now I'm set. Bid letting for the Second Street Project is less than two years away! My goal is to drive down a newly redone Second Street in Vincennes. Think about it. It that ever happens it means nobody has taken my drivers license away and the city has finally gotten that needed project completed.
Isn't it sad that the folks that help us re-live the history of our town at the George Rogers Clark Memorial have to spend their time planning for, putting into place, and then following security procedures to keep the monument and surrounding park safe from terrorists.
Isn't is good that they have done the planning, have put into place, and are following the security procedures.
With less than two dozen early votes either for or against the new Vincennes City Pool project, you wonder if very man people care if the city borrows the money to build a new pool.
Is the turnout so far a reflection on a lack of interest? Could it be the pro-pool borrowing supporters think the deal is done and it's going to happen? Could it be the anti-pool borrowing supporters think the deal is done and it's not going to happen? Could it be that May 7th seems too long away and we're just putting off voting?
Even with the bad news from Boston this morning, there are a couple of really good items to spotlight from our town this morning.
1.) Jono Conner appointed as principal of Tecumseh-Harrision Elementary School should be good for students in the Vincennes Schools. He's a young guy with experience. He's a local guy who's already been gone to get some outside perspective then returned to town. He not only lives in the town that offers him his job, but lives in the Tecumseh-Harrison school district.
2.) There's some more action on tearing down the Hillcrest Building. Sometimes you just have to say "we tried" and move on. That should have been done years ago, but the action by the Commissioners to ask for bids to tear it down is positive. Now we just have to wait for the funding from the County Council, but that's how it's supposed to work. There can surely be no reason that body will deny the funds.
We've all seen the Divorce Diet. You know, he gets really thin during and following a divorce. She gets that "old good" look during and after a divorce.
Steve Beamon may have stumbled on a new situational diet. Let's call it the "We Need a New Pool Diet". Everywhere you go right now Steve is promoting the special election to allow the city to build a new water facility in Gregg Park. All this work - and a bit of worry probably - has resulted in some baggy pants and loose shirts. Not that Steve was a chunck. As City Parks Director he is a hands on guy that gets out there and works about every day out in the parks. But the new pool project has somehow coincided with a new slick look.
Early voting continues in the special election at the Knox County Courthouse. The actual special election day is May 7th. Then maybe Steve will have a chance to chow down on something fired and wash it down with some worthless calories.
Even with relatively low temperatures this morning, we can officially list Spring as here in our town. The farmers are out dragging equipment from field to field. The birds are up early and loud about it. There's Green Thumb Thursday at Perk A Lawn Gardens. And the battle for tables is heating up at area restaurants on Saturday night. Yep. It's Prom Season.
Didn't get into it much in high school back in the old days. Guess I missed out on the concept of actually inviting a girl to the prom and not waiting for her to ask me. Didn't get into it much when my kids were in high school and still don't want to know what those dresses cost. And now, with the battle for tables at restaurants on Saturday night after Saturday night, it seems like Prom Season will come back to haunt me every year.
When the grand daughters go to the prom, I'm all in! But what if they wear a gown too mature for them? What if they go with some tough kid with a twinkle in his eye? Never mind. I'm NOT all in.
Early voting on the Vincennes Park's Pool Referendum is available now at the Knox County Court House. The actual special vote is scheduled for May 7th. Between now and May 7th voters who live within the Vincennes City Limits will have the right to vote Yes or No on allowing the borrowing of about $3.8 Million dollars to build a new pool and water recreation area in place of Rainbow Beach Pool.
One point that should not be in question is the viablility of the current pool. It's toast. It's done. Any money to repair the leaks and other problems is throwing good money after bad.
One point that must be made is that while the vote is worded to allow the city to bond $3.8 Million dollars, that means borrowing money and that means paying the money back and that means our taxes will go up. All property tax bills within the city will rise to pay off the bonds. Businesses and home owners will pay. Renters will not see the increased taxes directly, but their rent may increase because landlords will have to pay more.
I've never voted early. It has always been about election DAY. I make it or I don't. But this vote will probably be early - and Yes.
Have you had it with the guys tearing up the streets to put those yellow plastic natural gas pipes in? What a mess. What an inconvenience. What a pain.
What's the alternative? The lines we have now are old and probably getting close to dangerous or they would not be on the replacement list. One of the last things we need is some needless natural gas explosion. So we're stuck delays, inconvenience, and I'm afraid with torn up streets when those yellow trucks leave town. Putting square patches down will not make the streets like they were - and they were bad enough before the lines were put in.
We're pretty much stuck with streets torn up for every water, sewer, or gas improvement or repair. Maybe we should be proactive with any new streets though. Maybe we should require that each new street have no utilities running under and along the street. Make them run in the boulevard. Make every street HAVE a boulevard - even if it has to be wider than we have now on some of our streets. Then you just go under the street in a shorter perpendicular direction for
huckups. And with today's technology that should eliminate the cutting and cutting and cutting of city streets for utility work.
Oh. And while we're at it - require curbs and gutters. (Editor's note: We tried to keep him away from that whole curb and gutter rant, but it didn't work.)
Did the current Vincennes City Council Committee that now has the Trash Issue on its plate not know it was coming? Maybe Councilman Scott Brown misspoke when he said they were now going to look at ways cities collect trash now that his committee is studying the issue. Maybe there is a missunderstanding on my part, but hasn't that been the process the other council committee has been doing for months?
If this is such a big problem, then couldn't there have been some coordination so multiple people were working on the issue at once?
If you made the Knox County Alumni Basketball Sectional over the weekend, you know already know what a cool deal the whole project is. The Knox County Community Foundation's fourth tourney was a success even if it fought the first good weekend weather day of the Spring, a lot of great sales, and the Final Four College Tournament games. The players and their families love the competition. North Knox loves the results - both men and women won. And the foundation makes a buck or two. We'll be back next year with all the games on WZDM 92.1 fm and WZDM.com.
Last night was the start of the annual Civitan Radio Auction. 56 times the Vincennes Civitan Club has taken to the airwaves to raise money for their community actitivites. We at TOC are happy to be a part of the project - broadcasting the auction on WZDM fm 92.1, WZDM.com, and WAOV (where the auction started) at 1450 am, and 93.9 and 97.1 fm. Not only are the items worth the effort to bid on, the program is fun to listen to. It will be on beginning at 7pm through Thursday.
Another public meeting on the trash collection budget problem in Vincennes lead to more questions than answers - at least that's the take from a number of attenders. Have you ever had a three year old ask for something - over and over again. They will change the content of pitch, adjust the delivery, but the final wish is always the same - give me what I want.
Sometimes I just can't take it. I'm tired of the switches. Tired of the emotions. Just plain tired of the subject. And I give in. "OK have an ice cream sandwich before dinner." That's where I'm at on the trash thing. The so-called transparency of these committee meetings are just a bunch of chatting. Maybe they would work better at a local watering hole, but as public discussion they seem like a waste of time. Just present an ordinance. Tell us exactly what you will vote on and THEN have another meeting - you know the official Public Hearing.
We all know what the result is going to be. Just do it - please so we can move on to curbs, sidewalks, streets, and everything else.
On this beautiful Spring day many of us will enjoy the brightness, smell the flowers, and check the buds on our trees. It's early April and it's one of the prettiest months we have around here.
But April is also Child Abuse Prevention Month. How sad that we even have to have a Child Abuse Prevention Month. How sad our most defenseless citizens have to worry about their own safety. How sad that most of the abuse comes from the adults the children love the most.
There's no simple solution - even from this simple know it all. In fact, the solutions become more and more difficult as time passes and generation after generation continues the pattern.
Listen to the publicity about recognizing the signs of child abuse. Tell the authorities if you belive there is a problem. As Vincennes Police Chief Dusty Luking said on the WZDM News this morning, "If you feel there is a problem, there probably is"..
Vincennes isn't the only Knox County town with a trash collection problem. Bruceville has joined Vincennes as a community that's losing money on trash collection. Vincennes elected officials have been cussing and discussing the issue forever. Bruceville Town Council members brought it up last night. Vincennes has another committee meeting on the subject tomorrow afternoon at City Hall. Bruceville leaders raised the rate on trash collection last night. Sometimes the pain is less painfull if you just do it and don't think about it. That's what they did in Bruceville. The income wasn't covering the expense of trash collection so they raised the cost to residents. It takes effect now.
There is probably a reason officials will come up with why it takes longer in Vincennes to do the same thing, but it sure has been painful waiting for the inevitable. We're gonna pay for it so just do it and let the pain begin. The waiting is more painful.
Unless I've missed it, citizens of Vincennes have not had a chance to hear about which specific trash collection change plan the City Council will present as an ordinance. It's hard to know what the trash changes will do for an individual when we don't know what the plan actually is. And when we finally do hear what the plan may be it actually may be too late to get needed changes that benefit the tax payer included.
The fact that the City "loses" something like $330,000.00 per year in trash collection isn't necessarily wrong. Cities aren't supposed to make a profit on anything. How much does police protection "lose" every year? How much does the city "lose" on fire protection? I bet there is a "loss" on the budget of the Mayor's Office.
The question is can Vincennes government support the cost of trash collection with its current tax income? Can something be cut somewhere else? Does the City Council have to pass on the cost of trash collection because there is absolutely no way to cut the cost of the current system? Can they adjust the current system to save some of the costs and not charge individuals who already pay for City Government with their taxes?
The answer so far is "No" to all those questions. It's easy to quantify the cost of trash. It's really hard to cut spending somewhere else. A trash fee is not a tax so that won't come back on Council Members when the next election comes around. And trash - well it's TRASH and nobody wants problems with THAT so keeping it cleaned up will be done with an additional fee. That's just fact.
The Feel of Spring is still in the wings, but the official opening of the Vincennes YMCA Community Gardening Plots is a positive sign. The Y has been offering the space for folks to raise some veggies for a number of years and the little plots can produce a whole lot of eating - and a lot of community. Mix some soil and water from the YMCA and seeds from the planters and the yield is generally enough for the gardeners and many others. Mix the conversation and companionship of the gardeners as they work their sites and you've got what is probably more important than the plants.
It's a neat program - not unique, but being unique is not always what we need. What we need right now is some warm soil, fresh seeds, abundant water, and weed pulling gloves.