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"My Town and Yours"

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

Posts from January 2014


Helpful Neighbors
I spend some of my time travelling through Southern Illinois.  Not much population and fewer trees on the weekly trip to Fairfield.  Had a flat tire yesterday on the highway between Albion and Mt. Carmel and learned a lot about the neighbors and maybe a little about myself.  I was going to make the change by myself.  I was going to have to because there was no cell phone service at that spot along route 15, but I couldn't find the jack.  I'll read the van's book.  Discovered it didn't HAVE a book, but had a DVD.  Now THAT seemed very unhelpful until I figured out the van had a DVD player.  While figuring out how to use the DVD player a truck pulled up.  There was 88 year old Car ready to help.  He was about as old as my dad but looked like he could wrestle with those wheel nuts way better than me.  He also had a come-along.  While we were working on the project, another truck pulled up.  It was Dick from Grayville.  I knew it right away since his truck was a tow truck labeled "Dick's Auto Repair of Grayville" and his jacket?  Carhart with a "Dick's of Grayville" emblazoned above the pocket.  Dick took over and proved I would never have gotten it done.  No only did he have a bigger come-along, he knew the spare was hidden under the front of the vehicle and that you had to remove the console in the front to release it.  Dick did the work, refused any money and sent me on my way.

If you ever need work done in southern Illinois remember Dick's of Grayville.  Very neighborly.  If you every get stopped on Highway 15 remember there are more of them out there than Carl ready to help.  And if you don't have one, get a come along.  Everyone seemed to have one but me - though they were willing to share.  Thanks Carl and Dick.
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Locations: GrayvilleIllinoisSouthern Illinois
People: Car


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Beating the Winter and Political Blaas
One of the best ways around here to beat the Winter Blaas is attend a high school basketball game.  Preferably in a small gym, packed with firends and neighbors rooting for one team or the other, but knowing just about everyone in the stands and on the court.  South Knox at Lincoln last night fit the bill.  Cold air outside and a warm friendly atmosphere on the inside.  Good fun and good friends on the court and in the stands.  I can't even remember who won, but can listen to Dave Young's sports on WZDM 92.1 fm and here at WZDM.com (shamless plug!).

The local basketball game also precluded watching the State of the Union message.  It doesn't matter who is making the speech, I can't do it even though I know I should.  Thank goodness for high school basketball.
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Topics: EducationSports
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Locations: Lincoln
People: Dave Young


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Missed on this One
According to our news reports, health officials may have missed on picking the strain of flu to get us all vacinated against this year.  Health officials still say there may be time to get the shot or mist, but time is about run out and the medicine may not be aws effective as years past.  Area hospitals are seeing an early influx of flu like symptoms and though they haven't stopped visits, they are reminding us to not show up in a sick person's room when you are sick.

What else can we do?  Cough in your sleeve, wash your hands a lot, stay away from other people who are sick if you can, and don't bring your sickness to school or work if you do become sick.

That's all the suggestions from "Dr. Lange" who is NOT a doctor and who only has the pleasure of passing on the actual information.  I handle illness by feeding a fever and feeding a cold and complaining a lot to my wife who just pretents to listen.
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Topics: Human Interest
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Wouldn't Want to Make the Decision
Closed, One Hour Delay, Early Dismissal, Two Hour Delay, Suck it Up and Run on Time.  All viable options.  All difficult to make, but they can mold the memory of a school administrator in these parts.  Remember "Hour Later Ader".  Wayne Ader was a long time administrator instrumental for a number of local educational innovations and the construction of Lincoln High School, but I still hear him referred to by his closing, delay, and cancellation persona.  I can also see his smile a couple of years ago when he overheard it while attending a LHS basketball game.  Wayne is fading now, but eventhough there is a auditorium named after him, a lot of us will still remember the phrase.

What can we do with Bobe, Parsley, and Grove?  What cute phrases can be conjur up?  Let me work on it.  Right now I've got to check on the closings, cancellations, and delays...
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Topics: Education
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People: Wayne Ader


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Expansion
The sewer and water extension system to the Vincennes Industrial Park is almost complete.  We've reported about the project and why it is needed for the Farbest Plant, but what about the land along the route of the new lines?  The lines are able to handle more than just the turkey processing center.  They can take on other customers.  The land along the new lines could also be impacted in a very positive way.  While most business expansion has been on the east side of US 41 South, the west side of the highway could be the next industrial expansion area.  Do we have some inside information?  Nope.  But the Water Utilities people continue to plan for more than just the current needs and that 's good for all of us.
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OK
OK - enough is enough.  Time for a warm snap that is NOT followed by a Polar Vortex.

OK - enough is enough.  Time for a bit of light when we send our kids to school on time.

OK - enough is enough.  I promise not to remember how we almost never got out of school for snow, cold, and blowing conditions, much less for just some cold temperatures.
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Topics: EducationWeather
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Now I Know
I attend a number of community meetings per month.  Some I am a member of, but most are community groups I cover for our news effort here at WZDM.com and for Original Company Radio Stations.  Most are in the evening and many drag on through my bed time and frankly sometimes they are a chore.  Last night the Vincennes Community School Board met at Franklin Elementary and it was my job to cover it.  Nothing out of the ordinary, except the location.  It was nice to see the members of the board poking around the building each led by a couple of third grade students.  Who liked the process more?  The board members or the kids?  You couldn't tell.  There was a lot of multi-generational pride and rightly so. 

That community meeting was not a chore AND it didn't drag on so I got a chance to watch a bit of television last night and chose a program I had never seen - Two Broke Girls on CBS.  Please Mr. Parsley and any organization that might hold a Monday evening meeting that I have to cover, keep the meeting going until Two Broke Girls is over.  And to CBS?  Cancel it.  Really.  Cancel it now.  It is an embarrassment to us all.
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People: Parsley


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First Impressions
The wife and I drove back and forth to St. Louis this past weekend.  Believing that the Interstate Highway system is still an experiment, we took US 50.  You know, Lawrenceville, to Olney, to Flora, to Salem, etc.  About a dozen towns in all.  What did we see on such a route?  We saw towns that look and feel much like our town at this time of year.  It is not very pretty.  This is the season where our communities look like most of us do right after we get up in the morning.  Everything is exposed in the bright light of the morning - and it doesn't look good.

This is a good time for citizens and leaders to note what the curb appeal of our town looks like to visitors.  No leaves covering the run down and poorly kept buildings and infrastructure.  No flowers grabbing our attention away from the dirt along the curbs - where we have curbs.  Nothing to smooth over the wrinkles.

Why would we take such a route knowing every town along the way would look just as depressing?  It's a lot more likely we'll see hawks along a two lane highway than along an interstate.  And yesterday we counted fifteen.
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Locations: LawrencevilleSt. Louis


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The Maze
We finished the process of getting approval for a new carport this week - four posts and a roof approved by more organizations and individuals than it would take to build a large church.  First the City Inspector who condemned the old garage on the site after an earth tremor a few years ago, the wrecking permit and the permit to dump the rubble in the proper landfill.  Then the appointment with an attorney who listed the trail we would have to follow to get a simple carport in that location.  (He offered to take care of the permits, but we felt like we could easily do it ourselves.  Nobody ever said we are smart.....).  So we did it ourselves.  First a trip to the Court House to find out the zoing rules, then a denial by the zoning office because our old garage - built before any zoning didn't qualify under today's standards.  Next an appearance before the Vincennes Board of Zoning Appeals.  The appeal was approved, but on the way out there was the reminder that we had to go before the Historic Review Board for approval to build the carport.  More pictures, more applications, more time.  That was approved too.

Did we learn anything jumping through all these hoops?  Two things actually.  It would have been cheaper and easier to hire the attorney to do the work and while all the people we dealt with were, friendly, professional, and knew their stuff - except for that one sour puss - they sometimes assumed we were more sophisticated about laws, rules, and ordinances than we were. 

And the status of the totally approved Carport?  Can't build it now until the weather improves.  Hope they don't change their minds....
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Locations: Carport


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Don't Just Blame Coonrod
First off - Good Riddance.  Knox County doesn't need to work with Indianapolis financial expert Curt Coonrod anymore and won't (many hope) ever again.  Various organizations and businesses within the county will fork over $100,000.00 to keep Coonrod from pressing a suit for twice that amount in what many people believe are undocumented billings to the county.  The county's share will be $37,000.00.  The rest will be paid by the County Redevelopment Commission and Duke Energy.  There is a strong argument that the remaining $63,000.00 is county citizen's money too, but that's for another time.

It's easy to blame Coonrod for the whole thing, but there's plenty of blame for county office holders too.  If you or I sent an undocumented bill for anything to the county, there would be an immediate return of the bill asking for documentation including who authorized the purchase and in many cases asking for data about when the purchase was approved or budgeted.  But for years - years, Knox County has forked over thousands and thousands of dollars to Coonrod for.....what?  We'll never really know.

Congratulations to the current group of commissioners and council members who finally - finally put an end to what might be described as financial bullying.
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Topics: Social Issues
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Locations: IndianapolisKnox County
People: Curt Coonrod


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The "Card"
Overheard at a Vincennes beauty parlor:  "I signed up for Obama Care and when my insurance card came it was from Anthem.  So I don't know if I'm covered?"

I am not a health insurance representative and certainly not a politician, but I am surprised about how many people think they will receive a government insurance card if they buy their health insurance from the government run insurance sales web site called The Exchange.  Over thirty thousand Hoosiers have signed up at the exchange and not one has received or will receive a government health insurance card. 

The Affordable Care Act - or Obama Care as it has been labeled is a mandate to buy or be covered by private insurance.  There are government subsidies for low and lower income individuals and families, but nobody will get a government health insurance card.  We already have that and its called Medicaid and Medicare.  Medicare and Medicaid were started in 1965.  Medicare covers about 43 Million Americans.  In 2009 62.9 Million Americans were enrolled in Medicaid for at least one month.  I know those numbers are true because I read them on the Internet.

And the local lady that was surprised that she got covered by Anthem and didn't get an insurance card with "OBAMA CARE" emblazened on it?  I bet she read about Obama Care on the Internet too..
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It's Going to Happen
When the Vincennes Community School Board put the old buildings along Sixth Street up for sale a couple of years ago, there wasn't much talk of success at the coffee shops around town.  Who would want those old buildings?  What could you do with them even if you got them?

Making an offer that most of us would not think of offering, and actually getting the purchase done has now been completed and today the financing for the construction of Clarks Crossing will be in place.  And within a relatively short time, there will be new and affordable senior housing, green space, and a refurbished Adams Colliseum at the site.

Nice work school board.  And to Myszak and Palmer - the local developers - "Thanks".  Most of the community looks forward to your open house!
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Enough is Enough
Enough is enough already.  It seems like its been years since we have been waiting for the final list from the Corps of Engineers listing the required Vincennes Levee repairs.  In defense of the Corps, Vincennes Water Utilities asked that the list be held as long as possible and then scrambled to begin the repair projects up and down the levee.  It was a pretty smart move by local officials.  It has bought us a lot of time to work on the project and to spread out the cost.

The Vincennes Levee is probably the most important part of the local infrastructure.  While the sewer system or fire and police protection are very important, there wouldn't BE a Vincennes without the levee.  Maintaining it is an on going effort so it can pass the required federal inspections or we can't get certain kinds of grand money, our local insurance rates would reportedly go much higher, and as a worse case, the community would flood.

Once the list of needed repairs arrives, the city has two years to complete the items on the list.  Let's just get the list and get going.  The whole Christmas wait thing is over.  We shouldn't have to wait any longer for official word on the Levee.
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Just a Few Days Left
Friday - February 7th is the last date Indiana residents can file for candidacy for the Spring Primary Election.  There are a lot of positions available and there are a lot of good people who could help our community if they filed, ran a clean campaign, and won the nomination, then ran a clean campaign in the General Election and won.

Political office must be awfully hard, but its awfully important.  Find a good candidate and support him or her.  We need really good people and sometimes those are not politically connected.  Most of the time they are just regular people who have the same or similar values as we do and cannot be bought.
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Topics: Politics
Locations: Indiana


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OK - Let's Crank Up the Discussions
City and County government and local organizations have been virtually silent for a month and a half and I'm getting nervous.  Even the State Legislature is behind due to the weather.  So what does a community watcher do during this extended down time?

There are those files to get organized, the basement to clean, the car to get serviced, the muffin top (and worse) to tighten up, the relationships to strengthen.  Wow those sound way too hard right now.  The weather is cold, the sun seems like it barely appears before lunch, and my thumb is cracked due to the dry conditions.

Farm Profit Preview is this afternoon and early evening at Vincennes Tractor and the Vincennes Historic Review Board is set to meet tonight.  The farm show is always a good time to connect with folks and while there's nothing big on the agenda, the Historic Review Board might be a good start to the 2014 Government Watching Season.

I feel better already!  Today will be a good - no GREAT day.
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Bitter Cold for All
Pretty tough out there for most of us in and around Vincennes today.  What's a degree or two if they are all below zero and the wind is still blowing at twenty miles an hour when it dies down for a few moments.  The street and road workers are out.  The police and fire departments are working.  The emergency medical community is on alert and we community broadcasters are doing our thing.

The number of pots of chili being made and eaten the next few days should be a lot if you checked out the grocery shelves at Jay-C.  Of course the milk and bread was awfully popular, but the chili beans were also in high demand.

Bring your pets in, don't let the kids out to play, don't be an idiot and over exert yourself, check the closings and cancellations here at WZDM.com and enjoy the chili!
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An E-Mail About the Watermelon Drop
Got this Email from the Watermelon Drop folks and thought it was too funny not to share...

"...The Gallagher event that was so exciting for Vincennes In.  had to be my biggest humiliation!  
 
In preparation for the ‘look a like’ contest, I did 4 months of video study, ordered a custom fit bald cap with a 9 7/8” mullet, a Gallagher cap and even trimmed my facial hair in exact order to fit the mold of Gallagher. The white and black shirt and skintight spandex/denim pants even cost over $150!
 
I had been religiously practicing beating the sense out of fresh melons (at a large expense)  with a rather expensive large hammer and had, in all seriousness, gotten quite proficient at aim and distance.
 
It was rather humiliating to arrive at the watermelon festival and on my first lap to be robbed of the gratification that my effort deserved!  Several members of Gallagher’s security squad approached me and told me that “Mr. Gallagher will not be reminded of his former glory in such an accurate way.”  They told me that  “Leo is not going to be outdone by some simple minded hammer wielding local rube that has more time than sense”.  
 
I doubt that Gallagher or the city of Vincennes has any idea of this outrage.  But my time and efforts (that seem to have been in vain) are completely wasted and I am humiliated!
 
Thank you for Listening,
 
Luke Bickers..."

Editor's Note:  Luke:  If you ever want to do some more blogs for WZDM.com send me a note and we'll get you started.  Our Security Team would LOVE to have you on board....
 
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Locations: Vincennes
People: GallagherLuke Bickers


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Welcome to the Old Year
My Temporary Life Partner asked what my resolutions were while I sat on the couch yesterday watching the third show about buying islands.  I couldn't come up with one, but when I got to work this morning I remembered one.  There was my resolution that listed blog entires for every day of the year in 2014.

Just like last year - and every other year, I'm in trouble already.  Happy New Year!
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