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"My Town and Yours"

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

Posts from July 2013


This is Our Time
This weekend is the annual Watermelon Festival in Downtown Vincennes.  There will be baby contests, Miss Watermelon contests, music, booths with festival foods and promotions, a running/walking race, watermelon shirts,  AND watermelon.  Free watermelon.  Watermelon that was in the field in the morning and in your mouth by Noon.  Watermelon that was developed in Knox County.  Watermelon that isn't red inside.  Watermelon with black seeds, white seeds, and no seeds at all.  Watermelon that you can eat nowhere else in the world because it hasn't been released to the general public by the scientists at the Southwest Purdue Ag Center just north of Vincennes.

I hate to admit it, but I am not a watermelon fan.  Don't like anything about it except for all the pleasure it gives others and the money it brings to our community.  Now cantaloupe?  I'm all in.  I wonder if a festival for that smaller, rounder, rougher, but oh so sweeter melon would go over?  Probably not.  I had to even look up how to spell it.
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Topics: Health_Medical_Pharma
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Locations: Knox County


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More Taxes
Tax Rates, Tax Levys, Tax Impact, Edit, Coit, CCD, its all greek to me.  The Vincennes City Council has voted to raise taxes by no more than ten dollars per year per homeowner.  It's the CCD tax and I can remember exactly what it stands for, but council members say the money raised will be used to repair city streets.

If that's where the money is going to go, I will forego those ten large soft drinks over the period of a year and hope for two things:  Our roads will (slowly) get better and my waist will (slowly) get smaller - or at least not get fatter.  VIncennes City taxes have increased a lot this year with the (needed) addition of a tax for the new pool and now this.  City leaders need to be careful to not keep nickle and diming us with taxes that "just cost a little per year".  It does add up - kind of like those large soft drinks affecting my waist.  It's not just one of the drinks, it's the series of "just one" of those drinks that has done me in.
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Locations: Vincennes City


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Great Fair, But...
We couldn't have had a better weather run last week for the Knox County Fair.  It was a week of cool temperatures and soft breezes and good crowds.  There were so many good things I feel bad about bringing up a couple of points.

1.)  The Open Class entries were few and far between.  The quality was of the usual high standards, but the lack of entries is a sign of the times that make me sad.  While they were as good as usual there were just a few canned goods, only a couple of carvings, and even the sewing projects seemed lacking.  Not much canning, carving, or sewing going on in Knox County.

2.)  The Commercial Building needs to be closed.  Unless it's going to be a week of solid rain - and if it is not many people will come out anyway - the Commercial Building is dirty, dark, and lacks any kind of space that will positively allow businesses to display their wares.  Close it down and move those folks up to the empty builidng that used to be filled with projects and displays.

3.)  Put up more signage to get visitors to the various displays.  Not everyone has been going to the fair since you started tractors with a crank on the front.
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Locations: Knox County


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When was the last time?
When was the last time there wasn't a dangerous thunderstorm sometime during the Knox County Fair?

When was the last time there was time to just veg out because there wasn't a big festival on a Spring, Summer, or Fall weekend in Vincennes?

When was the last time there wasn't a news story about the trash system in Vincennes?

When was the last time when we had a week where we didn't have to hear about a politician who did and continues to do stupid things?

OK - three out of four aren't bad...
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An Economic No Brainer
The purchase of the building at 316 Main in Vincennes by the Urban Enterprize Zone Board is a no brainer.  For $15,000 they get the building that houses the Knox County Chamber of Commerce and has enough room for another entity.  The Old Northwest Territory Art Guild will move into that space and it looks like almost everyone wins.

KCARC gets a non-performing asset - the building - off its books.  The City and County will no longer have the continuing bills for rent for the building and the City will not have the rent on the current Old Northwest Territory Art Guild location to pay each year.  The 316 Main building's roof will get repaired with money already allocated by the city.

The Chamber of Commerce and Art Guild both really deserve help with their location costs and the Urban Enterprize Zone Board is the organization that should really help them.

Nice move.
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How Important?
How important is Good Samaritan Hospital to Vincennes and the surrounding area?  Important.  Drive by the place.  Look at the investment in equipment and buildings.  Drive behind the buildings and look at the employee parking.  Very important.

Still need convincing?  Last night the Hospital Board approved the long rumored purchase of the former Northside Pharmacy building to consolidate its patient billing operation.  Good use of a nice building, but the most interesting thing to me came from Hospital President Rob McLin who reported on WZDM News that 60 billing employees would be housed in that building.

Sixty people collecting money for services.  That's a really large number of people.  We get all excited about new businesses that may employ a few people coming to town and while those businesses all add together to help keep our economy going, one department of GSH makes those expansions look a bit smaller.

How important is GSH?  Very.  And that doesn't even address the medical services they offer.
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People: Rob McLin


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Nice to See
A number of teachers and educational specialists were transferred and hired at last night’s Vincennes Community School Board meeting.  The moves are designed to better utilize lower federal funding in the Title One program.  But one of the most interesting items on the agenda was the School Board's hiring of five new teachers.  Shea Duke - Science, Jama (Jayma) Lange - Spanish, and Jared Blue – Social Studies will teach at Lincoln High School.  Mike Hidde Junior will teach Health/Social Studies at Clark Middle School, and Andy Jennings was hired as a Fifth Grade teacher at Tecumseh-Harrison Elementary. 

Four of the five new teachers graduated from Lincoln High School.  Only Lange (no relation) isn't a local kid coming home.  Should we always hire local?  Nope.  We should hire the best available.  When introduced to the School Board, the new teachers' resumes were impressive.  The fact that they graduated from our local schools is another positive.

To the new teachers:  Good luck and thanks for coming home.

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Topics: EducationLabor
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People: Andy JenningsJama (Jayma) LangeJared Blue


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The County Fair
It seems like we all used to stop and spend "fair week" tripping through the dust and slogging through the mud.  The number of teens who slept with their livestock was high.  The booths and buildings were bulging with businesses and entries.  The lines at the Pork Producers feed were long every night.  And the carnival was alive.

Times have changed and just like every other activity, competition has taken its toll.  It's still "fair week" and those who attend will still trip through the dust and slog through the mud - because it WILL rain hard at least one day.  But the number of those spending evening after evening at the fair has dropped over the years and will probably continue to drop.  It's too hot for most teens to sleep in unairconditioned barns and besides there are so many jobs in town that require their attendance.  Booths get more space and fewer and fewer "in town" businesses spend the time and money to show their wares at the fair.  The carnivals has fewer barkers and riders and those tatoos?  Everyone has them now.  And the Pork Producers?  It's harder and harder to draw the crowds that packed the food selling and helped raise enough money to get them through a year of promotion and education.

Too bad.  Because the dust is the dustiest, the mud the muddiest, the displays still the results of really hard work, the carnival still a mixture of danger and excitement  And the Pork?  Still melts in your mouth.

Hope to see you at the fair.  Stop by our radio station booth and enter to win some really fun prizes.
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Happy Birthday Red
Not only should be say Happy One Hundreth to Red, but we should say a big thanks to all the folks who had the dream, put in the work, raise and paid money, and developed the vision of the Red Skelton Museum of American Comedy into a reality.

Red would just nod his head, smile, and say something positive (and funny) about all the people who did it.  Is the museum just for old people who watched his TV show and live acts back in the day?  I'm still not sure, but my six year old grandson from Chicago knew who Red was and wants to go to the museum. 

We'' be there.  Hope you will too.
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Topics: Entertainment_Culture
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Locations: Chicago


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Finally - They're Talking
The Knox County Commissioners and members of the Knox County Council are reported to have scheduled a meeting to talk about accountant Kurt Coonrod's relationship with the county.  Coonrod is an Indianapolis accountant that seems to specialize in working with governmental agencies on how to work with governmental agencies. 

The Commissioners who manage the county's money seem unsure that the cost of the advice and how the services are documented.  The County Council members seem to believe they need the advice from Coonrod and and don't seem publically worried about the documentation - or lack of it.  These differences have been brewing for months - maybe longer and the "he said - they said" exchanges have not resolved the situation which now stands at a large outstanding bill Coonrod says he is owed and the Commissioners have tabled meeting after meeting.  Council still uses Coonrod's services and it is assumed the bill is rising. 

Coonrod says he'll sue for the money.  The Commissioners say they are not worried.

Now there is a scheduled meeting between the Commissioners and Council to settle the whole thing.  Let's hope they do.

If I sent a bill to the Commissioners asking for a lump sum for "services" they would not pay it either.  They would demand a specific detailed list of services, broken down by who got the services and what those services were and the County Council wouldn't just use my services without a budgetted appropriation.  Or if I sent a bill to - for example VU, they would demand a purchase order number and a detailed invoice.  That's how business works. 

Why Curt Coonrod is supposed to get special dispensation because he is from Indianapolis and demands the money just because he says is beyond me.  What's good for the rest of us should be good enough for Mr. Coonrod.
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Locations: Indianapolis
People: Curt CoonrodKurt Coonrod


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Taking It Into Their Own Hands
Silly Question of the Day:  Why is it that Goodwin Funeral Home for example has to pay their own money to have curbs that are all broken up along 6th Street repaired?

Obvious Answer of the Day:  Because the Goodwin owners want their property to look as good as it can look and to be as safe as possible and the City either doesn't care or can't afford to take care of the curbs in Vincennes.

While city streets should not be individual taxpayers' responsibility, sometimes you just have to suck it up and do it yourself.  City officials will probably be thankful for the Goodwin citizen curb work.  But let's not take it too far.  City officials would not be thankful if property owners took care of the lane painting that is also in need of refurbishing.
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Topics: Human Interest
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The Big Peach
With the impending retirement of the Donners, the Big Peach north of Vincennes is scheduled for auction.  Next month's auction could bode the end of nearly 60 years of roadside service along US 41.  Let's hope not.  When the highway was two lane and went right next to the property the BIG Peach seemed so much bigger.  When the highway was dual laned and moved to the east, the complex, with its BIG Peach and (is that a) replica of the Washington Monument didn't seem quite as big, but remained a true roadside attraction.

Just this week, the BIG Peach was featured in an Indianapolis Star newspaper travel article about great local fruits and food grown in Knox County.

Let's hope the auction will keep the whole complex in operation and together.  If not, let's hope the BIG Peach can stay in place or maybe move somewhere we can still enjoy it.  I wonder if the Vincennes Historic Review Board would approve the relocation to 6th and Busseron?  I wonder if my wife would approve?
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Check Out the Lights
Have you seen the new street lights along Second Street and all around the VU campus.  Obviously high efficiency bulbs and a matching design.  It really looks great - like the rest of campus.  On the north side of campus they end just before Cutter's Way - kinda like a lighted path to the bar?  And toward downtown?  The lights go past the railroad tracks toward downtown along property that isn't on campus.  Or is it?  Or is it a hint as to what is to come?

No matter.  They still look great! 
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Now What?
So the Vincennes City Council has voted down privatization of trash hauling.  Now what?  It looked like an "old guy" versus a "young guy" vote, or maybe a "new guy" versus "experienced member" vote, but whatever the division, now the pressure is on Shirley Rose, Duane Chattin, Pat Clark, and Scott Brown to come up with ideas on what to do about people cheating on the sticker system.  They voted privatization down, now it seems that the solution is in their hands.

We will all be waiting to hear what the next solution is.
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People: Duane ChattinPat ClarkScott Brown


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Now We Know Why
Someone asked me one time why there were Three Readings (votes) required to pass a city ordinance.  I didn't have a real answer only an opinion - like most things.  Last meeting of the Vincennes City Council we saw why council members must vote three times to pass a new ordinance (local law).

Councilman Pat Clark made a passionate speech against privatizing trash collection in the city, then voted "Yes" on the ordinance up for first reading.  The ordinance to have a commercial hauler operate trash collection in the city passed on first reading.  That wasn't what Clark wanted, but his vote made it 4 to three for the change.  A simple mistake.  We all make them.  Mr. Clark says he won't vote that way tonight when the ordinance is brought up for a second vote.  It will most likely be a 4 to 3 vote to keep hauling trash with city employees.  There WILL be an extra fee for trash collection - that wasn't up for vote.  That comes later.

So now we have a good example of why there are three readings for a new ordinance.

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People: Pat Clark


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Tomorrow's the Day!
In many countires of the world I could not write this blog.  No matter how simple my opinions are, I would not be allowed to publish my opinions without approval of the powers that be.

Happy 4th of July.  I can write my opinions tomorrow - or not.  That's the basis of freedom.
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Wrapped Up Already?
Congratulations to the WZDM Cub League Baseball Champions.  Congratulations to ALL of the boys and girls who actually still play real softball and baseball - not the electronic kind.  For some it's tough sometimes standing out there in the heat, dust, and bugs playing at a game you're not very good at.  For some it's the highlight of the whole summer.  But why do we already have a champion of the league?  It's not even the 4th of July and the season is over for most of the boys and girls.  The only ones left are the "All Stars" who will travel from town to town - and even state to state for the next month or so.  The just not quite good enough kids?  Guess all that's left are the video games.  Too bad.
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Topics: Sports
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We've been shown how it works again...
How many days of rain have we had in a row?  How many inches of rain above average are we at right now?  Where were we last year at this time?  A week or so...  Over a foot above average...  Beginning to pray for rain... 

Except for the crops trying to make it in the bottoms and getting the wheat out of the fields, most farmers say this rain run is way better than last year's problem, but there are still concerns. 

What this does show us (again) that while we've got every hot digital farming accessory, the latest in DNA adjusted seeds, perfectly configured chemicals, and ag skills second to none?  We are still at the mercy of the weather. 
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Topics: EnvironmentWeather
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