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"My Town and Yours"

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

Posts from September 2013


Dr. Phil
A lot of people will say and print a lot of things about Phil Summers who passed away over the weekend and I can probably add nothing new to the conversation.  But I'll take a shot anyway.

     Dr. Phil was not an MD but he fixed a lot of educational problems and added to a lot of people's individual success.

     Phil was not Phillip to almost anyone I know.  He was Phil - or Dr. Summers.  Why call a man of his stature "Phil"?  Because he made you feel comfortable enough to call him by his first name.

     Most of us know that Dr. Summers was a strong cheerleader for VU, for individual success, for The Miss VU program, and for the Red Skelton Museum.  But did you know he was an expert parade judge?  Yep.  Ask the folks at Indiana's biggest parade - the Linton Freedom Festival Parade.  Phil has been judging that parade for years.  In fact some of his grandkids seemed to grow up at that parade.  Phil was also a pretty funny guy - not just a few pre-program stories, but about a lot of everyday things.  And Phil had the knack of making you feel important.  He seemed to really care about what you offered.  He may not have always agreed, but you felt like he was really listening.

     By today's standards Phil died pretty young, but he got a whole bunch done in that short time.  Always efficient.  That was Phil Summers.
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Topics: Human Interest
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Locations: IndianaMaryland
People: Phil Summers


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If Congress Was...
If Congress was a married couple, there would be a real need for serious marriage counseling.

If Congress was a dope smoker there would be a need for drug treatment.

If Congress was a student who didn't do his homework, there would be after school detention.

If Congress was a brat there would be a trip to the woodshed.

But Congress is Congress and that means their their incompatibility, lack of homework, and being spoiled brats just means they are being "political".  I'm not sure how to weave in the dope smoking because a bunch of them are so old they only use the weed for medical purposes, but Congress needs an intervention and they need it now.
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New Stores - New Challenges
Filling the Vincennes Plaza has been a real challenge, but the move of Rent One down the plaza and the addition of Dunham Sports to a large section of the building is a big step.  Most communities have a number of relatively empty strip malls and Vincennes is no exception and when space is filled with a potentially strong business, there is cause for celebration.

It would be nice if the new store was locally owned.  It would be nice if the Plaza was locally owned.  Neither is the case, but that's also part of the new normal economy in which we are living.  Economies of scale and regional retail are the norm not the exception.  There probably won't be too many local owners starting a new store that size.  There just won't be.  What we can hope for is that the new store will be involved in our community and pay a living wage to its employees.

Are there businesses based in Vincennes who fit the regional economic model?  There are some.  In fact, this blog is on an Original Company web site.  Based in Vincennes, The Original Company has operations in half a dozen other communities in Southern Indiana and Southern Illinois.  We're surely not as large as the sports folks coming to the plaza, but we are one example of a regional business.

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Going Through the Motions
Most of us go through the motions on a number of things.  Picking up the living room each evening.  Being polite to people we don't particularly like.  Smiling when we really feel like frowning.  Government does the same thing.  City Council for example goes through three votes on the same item because it's required.  Most of the time, whatever the vote is on the first reading is how it will play out, but there is always the second and third vote.

The Knox County Parks Department has to do a state mandated master plan every five years and they admit they've been going through the motions on filling out the form for years.  But this year it's different.  This year they are not just going through the motions, but building a real master plan.  You and I can participate in a public survey linked from our web site here to the county park's site.  Take some time and do it.  It's nice to see someone NOT just going through the motions.

And remember Gregg Park is not a Knox County Park, but a Vincennes City Park.  Maybe one of the things they should shoot for in the Knox County Park's new master plan is differentiating the county parks from the city parks. 
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Governmental Intervention
There's all this talk about changes in the health care system in our country.  Proposals to change (lower) reimbursements for medical procedures done at rural hospitals (ours included).  There have been announced changes in how much pollution coal fired power plants can put into the air - so many changes that some say coal fired power plants will be a thing of the past.  We are surrounded by such plants and mine millions of dollars worth of coal.  Hundreds of local jobs may be affected.  It seems that every where you turn government is telling us what we can and can't do.

Day in and day out there are more regulations.  I just hope nobody from the government gets a jelly filled donut from Jay-C Supermarkets.  Raspberry, Cherry, and Lemon jelly filled donuts are so full of filling that you can barely eat them without a spoon.  If those "must-changers" get a hold of one of those beauties, there will be regulations passed immediately requiring a warning about those donuts.

We need to band together and make sure we eat them all each morning before any governmental watch dog goes to work.  That's the way we do things around these parts.  We band together and fight for what we want and what's right.  One more push on the filling machine Denny.  Just one more push!
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25 Great Years
25 years ago today WZDM came on the air for the first time.  At least that's what Dave Young says.  I've never been much for anniversaries.  You can ask my wife.  I do remember when WZDM first signed on - just not the exact date.  The new transmitter was connected up and the engineer (who still works with us) asked what we should do next and I said "Turn it one and leave it on."  Dave Young was there in the morning and has been there for us ever since.  the only other employee then was Michelle York (Michelle Etzel then) and she still works for the company.  Wisdom's first community remote broadcast was that first afternoon with live coverage of the LHS Homecoming Parade and WZDM's first sports play by play broadcast was the LHS game that evening.  We have continued to make local community broadcasts our priority.  The other local broadcasters at that time told their clients we wouldn't last six months.  We did last and within a few years bought those stations that are now the core stations of The Original Company.  15 stations and 20 transmitters, 15 web sites, and an events department and direct mail advertising company.  But they are all designed to be "like Wisdom" - local community radio designed to bring entertainment and information to local communities.

Thanks to our sponsor partners.  Thanks to our loyal listeners.  Thanks to newsmakers and coaches.  Thanks to all the employees - including two of our children who work with us - who have made it happen.  And thanks to WZDM and Original Company's 50% owner Saundra Lange who has done a ton to make the last 25 years a success - even fun.  There aren't enough words to list all she has done for the company and me.  How many people can say that going to work every day is a joy?  I can.
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Have You Watched the Paving?
The City of Vincennes has contracted for a number of blocks to be repaved and this time it looks like the city is trying to do it right.  The workers are not just laying down asphalt over the old asphalt over the older asphalt, but first grinding off old pavement before putting on the new.

While that means there will be fewer blocks paved, the ones will will get the treatment will last longer.  Sometimes you've just got to do it correctly.  The City seems to get that tis time.  It is too bad there isn't money to put in new curbs, but the City of Vincennes didn't win this week's $400 Million Dollar Powerball.  Niether did I.
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Locations: Vincennes


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I-STEP Test Results
The I-Step student testing results have been finally released.  You can read about them at WZDM.com, hear responses from school officials at WZDM fm92.1 and online at WZDM.com.  And you can discuss them with all kinds of people.  Schools have tested students since the one room days, but now many of us wait on the edge of our seats for the results of the I-Step tests.  Why now?  Because they mean so much to students, teachers, and even the whole community.

If students fail the tests, they have to attend classes to get through the tests later.  If teachers and administrators work at schools with low scores they may lose their jobs and any pay increases.  If a community has poorly performing schools they may not be able to land certain new businesses.

But this year, the I-Step testing program was rife with problems - technical listed the most.  Students - thousands of them - were dropped from the computer systems designed at millions of dollars to test them, their teachers, and their communities.  Millions of Dollars.  The system failed over and over again.  Millions of Dollars.  There were fingers pointed and studies made.  There was blame firmly put on the supplier - who didn't pay for its "crime".  Who paid?  Students, Teachers, Schools, and Communities.

Forget the scores - good and bad.  Wait until next year.  Then believe them - a little.
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Civitan Winner Announced
Reported on the WZDM News this morning was the announcement that Jim Osborne was named as the Vincennes Civitan Citizen of the year.  Most people who have been paying attention know that Jim has been instrumental in the concept and drive to bring the Indiana Military Museum from a personal collection to a community treasure.  But the Civitan announcement also listed Judge Jim's work on the Bench as another reason for the award.  Most of us have never had to go before the judge, but he deals with hundreds of cases each month.  They may not make the news because they are mostly personal charges - like DUI, but they are still important to the people involved and to the community at large.

How these cases are handled can make or break an individual who has really made a mistake or who really needs more than a fine.  The judge's reputation is as a fair guy who will actually make a decision based on the facts and the future.

Nice award.  Jim deserves it.
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Historic Preservation Is Slow
Historic Preservation sounds pretty good on paper, but the paperwork required to get it done is pretty daunting.  Myszak and Associates are working to not only make the old Vincennes School Administration Building - you know the Clark Building to the really old people in town - a useful structure again, but to also preserve many of the features of the original structure.  The plan is to turn it into energy efficient senior apartments.  The group is also going to refurbish Adams Coliseum.  It won't change it into anything.  The plan there is to return it to it's original shape and use it as a basketball court and community event center.

But all this preservation work will probably cost more money than original construction so developers need Historic Tax Credits to help pay for the additional expenses.  Take it from a guy who has done that - with help from Andy Myszak.  Getting those credits take a lot of detailed work and the credits received don't cover the additional costs - at least not in my small project.

Preservation has to be more than an accounting trick.  It has to have some love behind it.  The preservation planned along Sixth Street will require a lot of planning, a ton of skilled labor, and truck loads of money, but to really get it done right it will require love.  And the guy for that -  Andy Myszak (and his associates).  Sure they plan to make some money on the project, but there are easier ways to do that.  Good luck Andy.  I will be first in line for the tour when it's done.
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People: Andy Myszak


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Cooperation
When you call Vincennes City Hall you should expect a positive experience.  The call is not to a call center on some other continent.  It's a call to City Hall - you know in the old tire store down on Vigo Street.  And when you get through?  My experience is that you are treated professionally and even warmly.  While every request can't be approved, Vincennes City Government seems to be a cooperation mode right now.  It starts at the top and trickles down through the department employees.

It's tough dealing with a whole town that wants and wants.  It's tough dealing with a town that really needs some things.  It's tough dealing with a whole town that worries about safety and the economy.  It's tough dealing with a population that has paid a bunch of money in taxes and wants it back in their neighborhood.  And it would be a whole lot tougher on us out in those neighborhoods if when you did call City Hall you got the gruff runaround.

Keep up the good work.
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What About Those International Issues
There's always a lot of local chatter about local issues - in fact, in years past we actually talked to one another face to face in person about local issues.  Now of course we don't need to interact in person at all even if it's face to face.  My 3rd grade grand daughter talks with her friends about "local issues" face to face, but it's face to face on some sort of electronic hand held device.  "It's not a PHONE Papa, but I do WANT a phone.  Can you help me with that?..."  (No.)

Chatting about local issues is very important, but is the electronic chat we seem to have all adopted better or worse?  On the better side it does get your opinions out faster.  On the worse side your opinions are easily misconstrued because any emotion is added by the receiver and generally lacks real give and take as in a real conversation.

In fact, this whole thing is wrong.  Nobody CHATS much anymore at all.  We POST.  We REPLY.  We Facebook - a verb no less.  I'm going to fix myself in the past when I say - woops - POST that I'd rather sit on the porch and talk face to face than do this blog.
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Build It and They Will Drive on It
It's always been funny to look at State Highway detours and guess at how many local folks actually take them as listed.  State (or some) law must require detours to be on the highways that are being closed.  State roads have to have detours on state roads.  Usually you just drive up to the closure look left and right a take a side street or road and go around the construction and let the non-locals or those folks that always follow the rules to take the 33 extra mile detour instead of the short drive around.

Sometimes its not that simple and it looks like the Monroe City road work scheduled to start next year on State Road 61 is one of those cases.  The main problem is the intersection at the south end of town called "Five Points".  It's really important and very busy and there may not be a simple drive around.

"We'll build a private road around the work ourselves," said some residents and they were told "NO!"  I have just one question:  If you drive on the grass and nobody cares have you built a private road or are you just driving on the grass?  We park on the grass.  Why can't we drive on it.  Nobody will care.
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Locations: Monroe City


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Sounds Like a Deal Now
The first discussions about replacing the Washington AVenue bridge over Kelso Creek in Vincennes were certainly attention grabbing.  Over a million dollars to replace the short span.  No busses or fire trucks over the bridge.  What are we going to do?  How will we ever pay for the work?

Now the county highway department comes up with a price less than half the sky is falling price and it looks like a deal to everyone.  Well the county highway department says there's a price that's half the price brought up before.  At my house we usually get the price of something BEFORE we get all fired up about how expensive something is.  In the future that might be a good way for the highway department to figure out what they need.
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Isn't This a Given
An ordinance to require home owners to have their addresses displayed so emergency personell can read them was brought up last night at the Bicknell City Council meeting.  You'd think this would be a no-brainer.  But of course it isn't. While it seems that anything discussed in front of the Bicknell City Council is difficult and shrouded in personal issues, such a proposal before any community council would probably cause some alarm.  You know - "...It's my right to hide my address so emergency crews have less of a chance to save my life when I have the big one..."

That makes no sense to me to fight such an ordinance, but I'm not a big freedom at any cost guy.  I want emergency personell to be able to find my house.  What the discussion at the Bicknell City Council WILL do is remind me to better display my address.  It won't take a rule for me to make the improvement.
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Nice Job Jim
This past weekend's Salute to World War II Veterans at the Indiana Military Museum was another success.  It was as successful for the veterans as it was for the visitors.  As reported on WZDM news and elsewhere, we are losing so many World War II Veterans that it is really an epidemic.  As museum director and founder Jim Osborne reported, the salute will soon be a rememberance of World War II because there won't be veterans alive to participate.

That is coming very soon.  But I wonder about who is going to take the lead at the Indiana Military Museum when Jim can't be the untiring leader?  There certainly is a plan I hope.
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The Salute
This weekend's Salute to World War II Veterans at the Indiana Military Museum is really important - not just to the Museum and its attendance numbers, but to the veterans who will be saluted.  While I have not done an exhaustive study, every World War II veteran I have ever talked with was proud of their service.  It doesn't matter how tough or easy the duty was, it was duty that they are proud to have completed.

We all know the statistics of the World War II veterans death numbers - thousands each week.  The special live stories told by those veterans will be silenced shortly.  My father was in the Navy at the end of the war and he is 88.  My mother-in-law was a Navy Nurse and she's 92.  Neither will be around much longer and their comrads in arms who are still alive are also about that age.

When you see the WWII vets around town this weekend, give them your personal salute.  They deserve it.  They will probably give you a proud salute back and be quietly proud that others still remember positively their service to our freedom.
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I've Been Beaten to a Pulp
Wow.  Just got off the phone from the most gruff person I've ever talked with - been talked to, been pushed, been brow beaten, been belittled, been mentally hurt.

I got this official letter from the IRS - YOUR Internal Revenue Service - saying that I wouldn't get my refund until I added some more information I was worried.  The IRS doesn't have that good a reputation even to a guy who hasn't had to deal with them very often.  But I followed the letter - LTR 5071C - and went as instructed to the secured IRS website (the real web site I checked) and was immediately pushed out and told that I had to call a number - are you seeing a rat here?  Actually it was just a mean woman.

Her name was "003-00457-9814".  But I really think it was Miss Wassman from the first grade - reincarnated as 003-00457-9814.  It would be HER heaven.  It was MY hell - just like first grade.

This lady needed some additional information.  She told me all of my information, but asked a couple more questions.  It wasn't the questions.  It was the way she asked them.  I guess she must feel like the whipping girl for the entire IRS operation, but treating people like dirt won't help the IRS.  It won't help anyone or anything except maybe to teach me to ALWAYS treat people like I would like to be treated. 

Isn't there a rule about that somewhere?  Not at the IRS.  No sir!
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Just Like the Rest of the Country
It took us a long time to get 4G wireless telephone service.  Took a long time to get broadband internet.  In these parts clothing styles are a bit behind the coasts - except for the whole Duck Dynasty fashion scene.  And population diversity?  Not so much around here.  Until recently someone "different" in Knox County was someone not related somewhere in their family tree to a Cary, Carie, Carrie, Carey - you get the idea...

Now the diversity of the country seems to be creeping into Vincennes.  Lowe's has always had signs in Spanish, and we've got a ton of restaurants, but now teachers are learning conversational Spanish just so they can talk with parents and students and we've begun to get church efforts to reach the Spanish speakers.  there's even a new church on Washington Avenue advertising services in Spanish.

Diversity is good.  It's change and sometimes that's hard.  But it is still good even if it is hard.  Embrace Diversity.  Remember the Caries (etc.) were new to our community at one time too...
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Locations: Knox County


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