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"My Town and Yours"

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

Posts from December 2013


Another Positive Report
Got a chance to watch the Vincennes Water Department at work this past Saturday.  There was some sort of water issue in my neighborhood and a crew was sent out to take care of the situation.  Four workers, four trucks, two trailers, a great big thing that runs the thingy that cuts through anything while making a ton of noise, and a back hoe.  The workers did their job smoothly and quickly and moved on with their day.  What was again evident was the pride they seem to take in their work and the pride the department seems to have with its equipment.  The four, in uniforms that easily identified them as Water Utilities workers, wearing the required safety gear were as put together as their trucks which were obviously well maintained and even while white were clean.  Even the backhoe and compressor trailer looked like their workers cared about them.  And the last thing they did before they left?  Swept the street - by hand.  Nice work guys.  It is almost a habit to complain about government services, but most of the time our local services are pretty well done.
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Boxing Day
In the UK, Canada, and many Commonwealth Nations, Boxing Day is traditionally the day following Christmas when servants and workers received gifts from their basses.  Some folks think Boxing Day is the day to put Christmas decorations away, but at our house we generally don't put decorations away at all so that couldn't have been the reason for Boxing Day.

Around here we should probably call the day after Christmas "Basketball" Day.  How many high school basketball tourneys are going this week?  A bunch.  Almost every county seems to have one and most schools participate.  In Vincennes we don't have one high school basketball tourney - nope - we have TWO.  The Rivet Girls Tourney and the Lincoln Boys Tourney.

Get your decorations in their boxes and if you have servants get them their gifts early today so you can figure out which basketball games you want to see around here beginning today.  Even if you don't particularly like the games, it will be a great time to visit with your friends and neighbors.
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Topics: EducationSports
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Locations: Lincoln


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The Cold Snap
We probably won't be getting a White Christmas, but at least it won't be 60 degrees with seven inches of rain.  While driving to Grandma's may require a detour due to flooded roads, we'll get there - even if gas prices went up again.  And the quiet we expect in our town will probably happen, there will be a bunch of folks ready to help should we need it.  Merry Christmas to one and all and a special wish to those that work the day to make the day better for the rest of us.
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Both Ends of the Spectrum
Attended two Christmas programs yesterday.  One included two pews of Little Angels, a gaggle of shepards with stuffed sheep, and assorted other children who sang and recited the real reason we celebrate Christmas.  They did a wonderful of job of bringing the Good News.  Then later in the day was the Vincennes First Church of God's annual Christmas program.  As usual it was a musical extravaganza.  Great music with a huge choir, talented instrumentalists, and well prepared speakers at a packed Red Skelton Center.

While each program was miles apart in production values, the message was the same and made yesterday a great day.

Merry Christmas.
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It's Not done, but....
As you are driving around to see the lights at Gregg Park, Wabash Trails Park, Lincoln High School, and The Lange House, take a trip down Seventh Street.  Pass by the County Court House and take a look at the simple Christmas decorations on the fence (from the Realtors I think) and look at the new ramp.  Not only will it be very helpful - an legal - for getting handicapped folks into the court house, it looks really good.

Most ramps look really bad.  Most work, but boy are they eyesores.  While the court house's ramp has taken way too long, it will be done shortly and it will be done correctly.  Thanks to the Commissioners for wanting to do it right.  Thanks to the Council for the bucks.  Nice design.  Good workmanship.    The Knox County Court House will still be the best looking court house in Indiana.
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Draining the Rain
Not sure who did this, but my money is on the Water Utilities Department.  In preparation for the heavy rain predicted for the next few days, workers have done some serious digging and clearing of snow and ice around the storm water drains along Vincennes streets.  No matter how bright the sun these past few days or even the light of the full moon, the drains would not have worked when the rain comes due to still being covered by ice and snow.

The City has been a lot more proactive the last few years and that is good.  Thanks ladies and gentlemen - oh any Merry Christmas!
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I Was Ready
Wow did the City of Vincennes miss out when I didn't win the Mega Millions drawing last night.  Yep.  I gambled.  First time ever on the Mega Millions.  Took my one dollar saved from my allowance and plunked it down at the counter at Jay-C Foods all in an effort to help the city.  I had already guessed I would win about 300 Million Dollars after taxes and the cash option discount.  Probably enough to pay my bills, and leave a bit for the kids.  The rest?  Curbs and gutters for a bunch of city streets.  A fully funded "chair" for a full time street sweeper operator for the city.  Money to tear down all of the abandoned homes and business buildings in town.  And maybe there would be enough money left over to pay back taxes for people who can't pay them and deserve some help and some to get needy students through school.  But I didn't win.  Can you"pay forward" dreams?  Probably only to yourself.  Well then...Merry Christmas Mark and thanks.  I wonder what the Powerball jackpot is right now?
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Locations: Vincennes


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They Might Just Pull this Off
If the attorneys get all the details worked into the documents, Vincennes will get a big Christmas present this week.  The plans are to officially close on the sale of the two large former Vincennes Community School buildings along Sixth Street.  When the school board announced the proposed sale of the exhausted and empty buildings not too many people expected more than bids for reclamation of materials, but a complete useful reuse of the property - no way.
Local developer Andy Myszak has completed other such projects in other communities and now it looks even more sure that completion of the Vincennes project into senior apartments and green space will happen.

Official congratulations will flow when the first residents move into the building and when Adams Coliseum is remodeled, but for now at big "At A Boy Andy" should do it.  Oh.  And Merry Christmas Vincennes.  This project will be a gift we remember for a long time.
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People: Andy Myszak


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Could We Get Another Factory Here?
Boeing is asking states to submit proposals to induce the aircraft maker to make its new 777X airplane in that state.  Fifteen states, including Indiana, are in the running.  What are the odds Indiana could get the plant and its over 85 hundred jobs?  Probably pretty good.  The state is very good state to do business in, wants the new plant, has a history of making incentives work for new plants, and has an industiral workforce.

Could we get such a plant around here?  Probably not.  85 hundred more jobs would be tough to fill, but Vincennes University would probably see direct benefits if the state got the assembly plant.  VU has been on the cutting edge of aircraft training and would fit right into the state's proposal unless the governor wants to suck up to the IVY Tech folks or maybe the "old gov" at Purdue.  And any plant that big would have satellite factories making parts.  We're pretty good at that around here.

I say go to it.  Offer them incentives.  Offer them tax breaks.  Bring on the jobs.  We need them.
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Topics: EnvironmentLabor
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Locations: Indiana


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Some Big Numbers
The numbers are almost staggering and both scarey and hopeful at the same time.  According to the local Salvation Army, almost 500 children under twelve will receive gifts from that orgainzation and over 1,100 local persons will receive food from the same group.  And that's just one local charitable group.  While the Knox County Salvation Army is one of the largest such local groups, there are dozens more churches, community groups, families, and individuals who do much the same thing.

The scarey part is that we can't seem to stop hunger and need in our own town.  The hopeful part is that we have so many organizations and indviduals who do take on hunger and need at home at the holidays and many who do it year round.  Does charity extend the issues - even make it worse?  I don't think we that have enough can make that call when thousands of people in Knox County are hungry right now.

Hear the bells.  They are ringing ourside the stores we are running into for stocking stuffers.  See the mitten tree at work and remember the extra pair of gloves kept in the glove box versus the kids without their first pair.  Half of those dozen canned fruits that were such a good deal could go to someone who needs them.
 
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Snow Stories
Haven't had a full day of school for a week, bone chilling cold persists even as the sun shines brightly, roads are still slick early in the morning, and most of us drive too fast for conditions morning, noon, and night.  Oh... and more snow, sleet, ice, and cold are on the way.  Anything good about this except the overtime pay the road crews get - and deserve?  The snow stories, comments, and jokes, are a nice distraction from all the negativity concerning our national government and many of its programs.

Here are two of my favorite snow comments: 
     "I'm going to buy a jeep and get a plow on the front, left up the plow and drive around town pretending I'm going to clear parking lots and streets."

     "I don't know why that guy spends all the money on his lawn and landscaping.  Right now my yard looks just the same as his and I don't do anything."
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Working Together
Great to see Knox County and Vincennes officials working together.  Interesting to see where the community's growth may be going.  The County Council has joined the Vincennes Redevelopment Commission in applying for a state funded project to expand Main Street from within the city limits out into the county.  Both groups have agreed to split the local match if the proposal is funded.

If funded, it will take a long time to get the project completed, but when its done there will be another area for commercial expansion.  And when (and it will be when) Hart Street is expanded from Richard Bauer Drive to at least Tower Road which will also need to be improved, the new commercial zone will have been created.  In a few years, Lincoln High School will not be on the edge of town, but in the center of the new mixed commercial and residential area bounded by Main Street, Tower Road (and a couple of connecting roads), State Road 61, and Bierhouse Blvd.

Now, what the City of Vincennes needs to do is bite the political and economic bullet and annex that ground so when it does develop it develops as part of the City of Vincennes.
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Brownfield - an Interesting Cover
I love the term "Brownfield Cleanup".  Governmental agencies love to toss it around.  For most of us it means nothing.  For all of us it should mean something - something important.  "Brownfield Cleanup" would be called "Pollution Problems" if we were to use regular words to describe the situation.  We think of pollution as a big city problem, but it isn't.  In Vincennes we're continually have such "projects" on the City Council agenda.  There are a number of areas of town that are polluted and without the city using "brownfield" money they would remain polluted.  But what about the folks that polluted the property?  Gone of course.  Bankrupted generally?  And many of them started over somewhere else and probably left their new community polluted too.

Those that pollute generally get away with it and government should take care of it as a last resort, but maybe we should have a damage deposit for business just like there are for renters.  Works for business.  Might work for government.
 
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First View
Visited my father in Atlanta to celebrate his (87?) birthday early and Missed the big snow last Thursday and Friday.  headed south just as the ice began to fall on Thursday and drove back on Sunday.  Without having all of the facts, my first impressions of our town was that #1.) we really did get a lot of snow and #2.) myabe we should consider having the guys and gals who clear business parking lots clear the streets.

I know there are all sorts of liability issues and the price may not be right, but the results were easy to see when coming into town.  When you need employees and customers at your business you make a huge effort to get rid of the snow.  When you don't need all your employees or customers at your business you don't make that effort.  I have been told a number of times that government is not a business.  Correct and the first view of town after the big storm proved that.

Now, I've got to go to get the shovel out and get my parkling lot and sidewalk cleared.
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Locations: Atlanta


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Are We Ready?
Are we ready for the coming Winter storm?  You bet!  As Vincennes Attorney and FBS+ Jeff Neal says, "With the total lack of milk, bread, and eggs on the shelves of Vincennes stores it once again gives proof that Vincennes residents consumemore french toast per capita than any group of people in the world."*  Are we ready for the coming Winter storm?  You bet!  And well fed too.

+ Face Book Sage...
*a version of what he wrote yesterday...
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Black Monday
Officially Black Friday was last week and yesterday was Cyber Monday, but at the Vincennes Post Office it was Black Monday and it had nothing to do with Black Friday or Cyber Monday eventhough it sounds like it with the "mash" of days.  Nationally it was one of the bussiest days of the year at the post office and in Vincennes you couldn't buy a roll of stamps.  You could buy pages of stamps, you could buy stamps with fun pictures on them, but rolls of stamps - a $46 sale for one roll?  Nope.  They had them in the building, but they couldn't sell them.  Now many people don't need rolls of stamps so they were still in business I guess.  But the fact that they couldn't sell rolls that were in the building is a good example why Amazon or some other company will end up owning the Postal Service.  Why no rolls?  The person with the key to the safe where stamps to be sold are kept was on vacation and no one else is authorized to get the stamps out of the safe.  Well actually they say they don't even have the key.  (I guess the key needed a vacation too...)

What if the guy with the key doesn't come back?  Will they ever be able to sell rolls of stamps again?  It's not the rolls, it's the system that cannot survive.  I love to get mail.  I love to feel a card.  I love to read the hand written word.  But because of stupid out of date rules that don't make sense I will eventually lose those simple loves.

It was Black Monday, the beginning of the final end of the greatest idea Ben Franklin ever had - or at least I think Ben Franklin thought of the Postal Service began in Vincennes.
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Lets Do This!
There are not too many towns the size of ours who get a new business employing three hundred people.  There are not too many towns the size of ours that get a new business that employs three hundred people that also offers benefits.  There are not too many towns the size of ours that the new business with three hundred new jobs says that's just a start as far as employment is concerned. 

Welcome Farbest.  Even with Thanksgiving just passed, I'm getting a craving for Turkey already and today will be the first day of production.  Thanks to everyone involved.  Let's not forget the Farbest folks, but let's also move on and figure out how to fill the former Essex Plant and the rest of the industrial park.  Three hundred jobs is a great start, but more is better for all of us.
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