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"My Town and Yours"

  "My Town and Yours"  Thoughts and  Observations of Mark Lange

Posts from May 2013


This Is Going to Read All Wrong
Got a call yesterday from a gentleman at the US Census Bureau who was calling about the US Census of Business.  Well, actually he was calling about the fact that I have not turned in the US Census of Business questionaire sent to me sometime in the past that I have failed to fill out.

Maybe the US Census Bureau has no business knowing about my business.  I've paid my taxes, done those forms, even offer health insurance before it is required or I get a fine.  The problem is the form is supposidly "required by law" according to the guy who called and I am "late, late, late".

It probably IS required by law and I probably AM late, late, late.  Now I'm really not happy and will have to be forced to fill out the form.  They guy calling was just doing his job I'm sure, but he could barely speak English, could not pronounce any common name he read (mine, my business name, the name of our town, and the name of our state).  When asked what HIS name was, I was assured it was "Bob". 

I'm putting money that it wasn't actually Bob - only "Bob" for purposes of these calls.  I'm also putting money that "Bob" wasn't even IN the United States.  Don't know that for a fact, but the whole conversation reminded me of the show "Out Sourced".

We could have a phone bank in our town and hire local people who can be understood by the people that are paid to bother.  That might be a better use of Federal funds.
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Topics: Social Issues
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Are We Going to DropTaxes?
So if private contractors can pick up Vincennes trash for up to 30% less than it costs the city to do the work, then lets do it.  Get a  ironclad contract and do it.  But why do we tax payers have to also have a fee added to make those savings happen?  Why not have the city pay the private contractor and use the savings to fix the streets.  The additional funds won't cover everything we need, but it could work.

Or if the City Council is hell bent on charging a user fee, then cut city taxes the cost of of our new fees.  OK.  So that will never happen.  But what about that first suggestion?
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Nice Job - As Usual
The 37th Spirit of Vincennes Rendezvous is in the books and it was once again a great success.  Terry Wise and a lot of people who worked on the event's organizations did a wonderful job.  Seeing Frank Doughman working the crowds around the Clark Memorial as the Superintendent as the Historical Park was a pleasure.  There's a guy who loves the event and his new job.  The weather cooperated pretty well except for the Grand Ball activities that started out with a large festive crowd scattered by the rain.  And the participants and visitors were in great moods even when local food booths ran out of food late Saturday and pretty early on Sunday.  There were still hard candies available so no one went home without something to eat.  The 37th is over.  I can't wait for the 38th.
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It IS a Big Deal
Three of the four Knox County High Schools hold graduation ceremonies tonight (5/24) and the other has its activities tomorrow.  The only memories I have of Valparaiso High School's graduation 44 years ago was the eagle-eyed stare of Virgil Sweet when he figured out that I had not worn the proper attire under my green gown.  In 1969 there weren't cell phones to quiet, so much was focused on the proper attire to be worn under your gown.  The coach didn't appreciate that I had shorts and a tee shirt under the gown. "But coach, I have black shoes and socks and the cuffs aren't too long..."  (They were cut off another pair of pants and taped to my calfs.)

Mr. Sweet let me go through graduation, but I have to sit in the front row where he could keep his eye on me.  I must have done OK since I still get fund-raising appeals from good old VHS.

Flash foward to tonight.  Is it tougher to get through high school than it was in the middle of the last century?  I'm putting my money on "Yes".  Think of all the distractions.  Think of how even our "normal" families have evolved.  Think about the perceived age and actual experience of today's graduates versus the children of half a century ago who walked the stage and went out into the world wide eyed and and and.....well many of us know exactly how we felt.

Tonight, they will stroll across the stage, wave to their families, tweet their feelings to their followers around the world, jump into their own cars for celebrations with their friends, and go out and do who knows what.

But I bet nobody at graduation this weekend will have fake cuffs taped to their legs. 
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Topics: EducationHuman Interest
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People: Virgil Sweet


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This is the Big One
We've got a lot of celebrations and festivals in our town - everything from The Relay for Life to the Carie/Carey/Carrie/etc. Reunion, but the really Big One is this weekend.  For the 37th time many of us will celebrate the Colonial history of our town with the Spirit of Vincennes Rendezvous.

What started out as a single row of booths and a few reenactors near the Harrison Mansion has become a huge festival with thousands of participants and thousands and thousands of visitors.  A lot of people learn a lot about the early days of Vincennes and a lot of money changes hands.  the organization makes donations to many local groups and local not for profits get to raise money selling food at the event.  All are positive for our community.

My one concern is every year discovering local people who have never been to the Rendezvous.  I know it may not be everyone's cup of grog, but try it at least once please. 
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Great Idea
The Knox County Commissioners are considering requiring county employees to wear name tags while at work.  Great idea on so many levels.  They are talking of allowing county police officers to opt out of the plan.  Probably not so good an idea unless there is a safety issue.  We deserve to know the names of all the people we employ.

The requirement is under study so how it all shakes out is still up in the air.  I don't get a vote, but if I did, I'm voting for the name tags.  That way I can thank those employees who are doing a good job - and that's most of them - by their names.
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Topics: Labor
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Finally
The computer incon that lets me get into the program to post this blog each time all of a sudden starting asking me for a password eventhough I had asked that it be programmed to not require such nonsense.  I have enough trouble remembering my phone number or what to pick up at the store on my way home.  Remember my password to my Blog?  No way.  And the password person here at WZDM.com decided it was time to teach the old man a lesson.  Not only did I not get an answer to my email asking for my password for the umpteenth time, the incon remained locked even after pleading it be unlocked.

So this morning I just started putting in user names and passwords and finally got them both.  I'm guessing I am a prime target for identity theft if I can figure out what my user name and password is.  The good thing is I have never activated my pin for an ATM withdrawal and still pay most of my personal transactions with old fashion cash.  There are no passwords for cash.

Tomorrow?  Probably won't be a blog because I will have forgotten the username and password again.
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Topics: Human Interest


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Great Ruling
The Indiana Supreme Court ruling that Vincennes Girls, Incorporated should own the Camp Wildwood property along Washington Avenue seems like a no brainer to this southern Indiana hick.

How can a law put into effect years after an agreement was made be fair?  How can taking a local community treasure away from the community be fair?  Well the Supreme Court agreed.

Now we'll have another example of a bunch of community groups and individual citizens working together to bring the camp back for community use.

Most Vincennes Girls have no idea what the ruling means and many young girls may not have even heard of the camp since it has been closed for a number of years, but girls, boys, and adults will all benefit from the decision.
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Locations: IndianaSouthern Indiana


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A Rare Sight
Walking to work this morning there was a rare sight.  A black trash bag on the sidewalk ripped open by some animal.  Strewn around the area was the trash formerly in the bag.

That was a regular sight just a few years ago, but Vincennes officials addressed the problem and have had positive results.  The Trash Tote garbage system has worked well keeping most trash protected from roaming animals.  And the city's animal control officers and pet owners have kept roaming domisticated animals at a minimum.  Those two actions have kept a lot of trash from being strewn around.

The request for proposals for private trash pick up includes use of the current totes.  When the final negotiations are complete - and we WILL be paying a fee for private pickup - it  must require use of enclosed containers for all garbage.  We can't go backwards and have loose bags put out for pick up.
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Topics: EnvironmentHuman Interest
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Good Move
The Vincennes Board of Works bought some time yesterday when it delayed further consideration of the Riverwalk project until work on the levee is completed.  Good move.  How many times have we seen a street be paved only to have a planned utility or other cut made in the new paving within sometimes days.  A bunch.

The Indiana Department of Transportation and the City are working together at this point and that's good.  

The Riverwalk is still not very important to our town's success, but at least we won't spend money to be lost when levee work will probably change the walk's plans at best and waste work and tax dollars at worst. 
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Maybe It's Not Such a Good Idea
There will be more discussion and possible action on the long discussed and cussed Riverwalk proposal for the City of Vincennes this afternoon at the Board of Works meeting.  Here's the pitch:  Let's show off our city's largest natural aspect - the Wabash River.  Here's the problem:  We first must make sure we control the ravages of our city's largest natural enemy - the Wabash River.

The Riverwalk is supposed to connect the Clark Memorial with Kimmel Park and maybe beyond.  Great on paper and those Indianapolis Engineering firms who have already made tons of money on this proposal and stand to make even more if the city moves forward, but I still can't figure out how it is supposed to work.

You could build the walk along the river on the river side of the levee.  OK.  Try that during the spring and fall floods and you would drown.  Try cleaning up the mud and trash on that Riverwalk design after all those floods.  Try paying for that clean up year after year after year.  Try keep your walkway even intact flood after flood after flood.

You could build the walk on the city side of the levee, but you couldn't see the river very well.

You could build the walk on top of the levee, but that would fly against all those warnings about staying off the levee because potential damage.  The US Corps of Engineers would certainly have something to say about that option - if it is an option.

A Riverwalk sounds great.  Supporters have reminded us about beautiful such walks in other communities, but I haven't heard them talk about a successful walk along a levee protected river in a community that needs the levee to stay a city.  A Riverwalk in Evansville?  Fine.  Evansville is much higher than the river in most spots.  Henderson is even higher.  The Henderson riverfront is very nice.  What about Indy and Austin, Texas?  There is no Riverwalk on the White River.  It's on a canal.  And Austin?  Maybe some city officials should go down there and check it out - on the Engineering Firm's budget no doubt.
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What a Deal for Lawrenceville
At last night's Lawrenceville City Council meeting it was announced that Lawrenceville citizens will be saving about 17% on their electric bills for the next two years.  How can that be?  My electric bill rises and rises.

They get to save because Illinois has a law that allows for communities to band together and negotiate their rates as a group.  No such luck in Indiana.  In Indiana we remain at the mercy of our electric providers.  Little guys all alone against huge corporations.  What would you do with the money available by saving 17% on your electric bill?  Bet it would go directly to the local economy.  Bet the big electric utilities would survive too.

Maybe Indiana should seriously study something that would help virtually all of us.  The problem is I don''t have a highly paid gaggle of attorneys lobbying for me like the big utilitiy companies.  I can't take legislators out to high priced Indianapolis restaurants that I have never been in myself because I have nothing to offer those law makers.

Guess we Hoosiers will just keep paying higher and higher electric bills.
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Congratulations
Congratulations to the supporters of a new Rainbow Beach.  As you most likely know, the vote to borrow the funds for a new pool passed by a four to one vote.  Turnout was low as expected, but the support may have been a bit stronger than even strong supporters of the project believed would happen.

Now the Park Board needs to make sure the project is the best decisions on the details.  The vote said "Yes" to borrowing up to $3.8 Million dollars, but careful planning, private fundraising, and tough negotiations should bring the project in under that figure.  Let's shoot for that.

Parks Director Steve Beamon was the face of the project and worked his tail off getting the information out to the voters.  He did a great job.  Now he can take a breath, but only a short one - now his small staff must get Kimmel Park cleaned up after the flooding, keep up with the daily maintenance of the other parks, work with community groups getting programming in the local parks, AND work to get the project under construction.

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Still Time
If you live within the city limits of Vincennes please take a few minutes today, tomorrow, Monday, or Tuesday to make your opinion on a new city pool known where it counts - at the polls.

Until 4 this afternoon, tomorrow and Monday from 8 to Noon, and Tuesday from 6am to 6pm registered city voters can vote YES or NO on allowing the city to borrow about $3.8 Million dollars to construct a replacement for the closed Rainbow Beach.
It's not very often that opinions become directives, but with this vote, that's how it will be.  If enough people vote YES - the city will borrow the money and the project will move to the construction stage this summer and a new water facility will be opened about a year from now.  If enough people vote NO - the city will not borrow the money and the project will most likely be dead for quite some time and there will be no opening of a new water park in 2014.

Only a few hundred people are expected to vote.  That's too bad, but the opportunity has been well publicized and if people don't care enough to run over to the court house or go to their polling places on Tuesday, fine.

By the way.  We'll have the results of the vote at WZDM Wisdom 92.1 FM and online here at WZDM.com.
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The Most Important Person in Town
There was no Blog for May 1st.  Why?  The Icon on my desktop that was supposed to hold all the secret passwords to the entry area of this Blog didn't work and I was asked for my "Name" and "Password".  I know my name, but that's NOT the name the computer required.  But I figured that out.  It's my ELECTRONIC name.

Then came the whole password question.  How many passwords you have?  Do you know all of them by heart?  Oh.  Well I don't.  You have a notebook with them all written down?  Wow.  Wish I would have thought of THAT.  Actually I write them now on my business cards and then immediately lose them - and there must be a thousand of them lost somewhere.

But that's not the subject of this blog.  Someone - a generation younger than me figured out my electronic name and password and I am now in and working.

Do you know who the most important person in town?  It's not the mayor.  We have more than one of those in Knox County.  It's not the President of VU or the CEO of Good Samaritan Hospital.  They are important but their assistants are more important.  It's not the various fire chiefs or doctors or teachers or preachers.  They are also important, but there are a ton of them.  It's not your significant other or even your kids.  They are loved ones, not important ones to the community.

Who IS the most important person in town?  The person that takes the passport applications at the post office.  While everyone in the rest of the world wants to get IN this country, it seems like a whole bunch of people FROM this country want out to get OUT of it.  But there is a huge problem.  Just two people know the system, have been to the training, and can check to see if you correctly filled out the page after page after page of the passport application form.

I'll bet it would be easier to sneak plutonium into this country than get a passport application filled out in town.
For me?  I'm staying put.  Keeping my travel dollars (well pennies) here at home.  I haven't ever been to Cooper's Woods.  Never had a picnic at Emison Mill.  Haven't ever been on a boat in the Wabash River.  Can't remember the last time I was inside the Clark Memorial.  I'll bet I could visit every single attraction in Knox County marked with those red and black "attraction" signs and have tons of time left over when compared to the time it would take to get a passport application filled out.
 
And the best thing about no passport?  I won't have to go on a cruise - ever!  At least I hope you have to have a passport for that...
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Locations: Knox County


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