News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Editorials

April 21, 2013

MARK BENNETT: Littered with irony: Why do people callously discard their trash, and who are they?

TERRE HAUTE — Though they aren’t acknowledged by the U.S. Census Bureau, there are basically two demographic groups of people …

•Those who would dump their old toilet on the banks of the Wabash River or a rural roadside.

• And those who wouldn’t.

Folks in the latter category should resist the temptation to feel sanctimonious, though. The john-dumpers merely represent the extreme of mankind’s ecological indifference. Anyone willing to toss a plastic sports-drink bottle out their car window harbors the potential to work their way down to pushing a busted commode off the bed of a pickup truck along a secluded country road or stream. Consider a beverage container as gateway litter for a future toilet-pitcher.

Both pieces of refuse, and many others, big and small, can be found illegally discarded in Vigo County.

Each April 22, Earth Day arrives at the ideal moment to assess the local litter problem. Trees and plants aren’t yet in full bloom and can’t hide the trash. Likewise, snow no longer covers empty vodka and soft-drink bottles, fast-food bags and straws, smokeless tobacco containers, beer cans, cigarette packs, cracked car parts, thin plastic grocery store bags, and pseudoephedrine packets picked clean by meth-makers. Spring reveals it all.

A hiker or motorist viewing such a sight may ask, “Who does this?”

A Virginia Tech researcher helped answer that question in a report last year. It included a profile of litterers. Most are male, and in the 18- to 24-year-old bracket, but that age group is hardly dominant. The percentage of litterers in double-digits included those 11-17, 18-24, 25-29, 30-34 and, get this, 45-54. The least likely? People 55 and older.

The study also cited surveys conducted by several states and organizations, including a poll of Texas third-graders. Of those kids, 32 percent saw their parents pitch trash from the car window, 49 percent watched someone else in their car do the same, and 26 percent admitted to littering from the vehicle themselves. They obviously paid attention to their elders.

People usually litter alone, though, while driving. Smaller percentages litter while enjoying the outdoors, unable to find a trash can. In a Keep America Beautiful survey, cited in Virginia Tech’s research, 86 percent of people said legal penalties would keep them from littering, but only 4.5 percent said such current laws were effectively enforced.

Forty-five percent of guys and 20 percent of women confessed to littering. A majority of respondents figured prison labor would most likely clean up litter.

Litter is littered with irony. People use a toilet to properly dispose of waste, and then heave the john into a ravine. They choose a sports drink with healthy electrolytes, and then hurl its plastic container into the roadside grass where it will take 450 years to decompose. Eighty-six percent would avoid littering if fines or jail time hung over their heads, yet more than half expect an inmate to pick up their rubbish.

Thank goodness, inmates at the Terre Haute Federal Correctional Complex camp help tackle that big job here, as do city and county crews, and various civic, church and college organizations.

Thank goodness, the prisoners volunteer to help.

Two years ago, the city organized a program in which Terre Haute Code Enforcement employees work with groups of five to six federal inmates to rid tree rows, alleys and roadsides of trash and litter. One or two times a week, from March through December, they gather and bag discarded items on public property inside the city limits all day. On Thursday, for example, the prisoners cleaned along Fruitridge Avenue and the downtown district.

“These are people who are trying to acclimate” to the outside world, said Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett, impressed with their efforts.

Similarly, teams of state Department of Correction inmates are removing trash beside highways, assisting the Department of Transportation’s annual Trash Bash throughout April. Their most common finds are pop bottles, drive-through food bags and stray paper, said Cher Elliott of INDOT’s Vincennes district. The inmates’ work complements that by numerous groups volunteering for the state Adopt-a-Highway program. On a local level, Vigo County Highway Department began an Adopt-a-Road program in 2008.

Undoubtedly, the concept of prisoners collecting trash is good. Violating laws harms a society, and sprucing up a roadway is a small, yet significant step in repaying the debt. Still, it’s worth remembering that nearly all of those federal inmates call some other place their hometown. Those of us who consider this community our home should treat it as such and find more effective ways to reduce the willingness to litter.

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Editorials
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    The loss of 150 jobs impacts people — the employees themselves, their families and the community. They need the support of loved ones, friends, neighbors, churches, schools, clubs and local service groups in the search for new work and clarity amid the uncertainty.

    July 26, 2014

  • Ronn Mott: Gaza 2014 — hatred lives on

    The rockets’ red glares have turned Gaza, part of the Palestinian authority, into a battleground with Hamas, a legislative terrorist organization that has been stockpiling armaments to use against Israel for years.

    July 25, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Work program needs industry buy-in

    Good help is hard to find. That’s essentially what Indiana companies have insisted for several years. The state struggles with a “skills gap,” the firms explain. They need employees, but can’t find enough — or in some cases, any — qualified Hoosiers. Businesses say too few applicants possess the “soft skills,” such as showing up for work on time or being able to effectively communicate with co-workers.

    July 22, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Vigo Jail study essential to determine strategy

    It comes as encouraging news that the Vigo County Council might include in its 2015 budget significant funding for an expert and neutral study of what can be done to replace or enhance the existing county jail.

    July 20, 2014

  • tstribunestar Editorial: Continuing the standard

    U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett has raised the profile of his federally appointed position more than any individual to hold the job in decades. From the start, he was a man on a mission, and often that mission was focused on rooting out corruption, maintaining integrity in government and pursuing those who violated the public trust.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • EDITORIAL: Legal marriages should be honored

    An eager and probably nervous couple stands before a minister or a judge or a county clerk and exchanges vows, accepting the legal, moral and ethical obligations of a marriage.

    July 13, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Dysfunctional relationship with schools chief doesn’t bode well for potential Pence presidency

    A window to the future may be unfolding in Indiana.

    July 12, 2014

  • Editorial: The Bennett ‘settlement’

    It takes a special kind of arrogance to flout ethics laws in the manner which former state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett has violated them. Even when he finally admitted his transgressions, he claimed he could have avoided the matter altogether had he just changed the department’s ethics policy before engaging in the troublesome conduct.
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    July 10, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: A green idea worth pursuing

    It sounds like a blue-ribbon idea.

    July 9, 2014

  • tstribunestar EDITORIAL: Be safe, be responsible

    The Independence Day weekend brought a brief respite in construction work on area roadways. In particular, it provided needed relief to the congested segment of Interstate 70 in Clay County that is undergoing resurfacing this summer.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • tstribunestar Editorial: City financial health demands an open, honest discussion

    Obscured by the recent rift over use of departmental funds in the city of Terre Haute’s budget are serious issues related to our city government’s overall financial health. The answers may be mired in the complexity of municipal finance, but coming to grips with the situation is important to the city’s future.

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • EDITORIAL: Celebrate your independence

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
    As eloquent and declaratory as that statement is, implementing its principles has been a decades-long pursuit for these United States of America. Our nation, it seems, is the quintessential work in progress, even though what this country has created in terms of a stable, collective society is, let’s face it, pretty darn good.

    July 3, 2014

  • Editorial: Texting law serves safety

    July 1 each year marks the day in Indiana when new laws take effect. But rather than focus on new laws today, let’s observe the anniversary of a law that went on the books three years ago this month — the law that barred texting while driving.

    July 1, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: For kids, an immediate need

    If you agree that not much is sadder — and potentially more unsettling to our society — than a child torn from his or her home, here is a way you can make a difference, one kid at a time.

    June 28, 2014

  • Editorial: A center for the future

    The Monday morning “groundbreaking” at the site of the new Vigo Schools Aquatic Center in Voorhees Park was largely ceremonial. It will still be a few weeks before work on the $9.8 million facility actually begins. But that didn’t stop the highly anticipated event from taking place, and it was clear from remarks made by a host of VIPs who took turns at the podium that this project is destined to produce great things.

    June 26, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: A proud moment for Vigo County

    Most people, regardless of their personal opinions or beliefs on the matter, will admit that they knew the day was coming when Indiana’s law banning same-sex marriages would be overturned by a federal judge. It has happened in other states that have encountered the issue.

    June 25, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Getting smart about fighting crime

    When those “CSI” TV shows began to burst on the scene in 2000, viewers were mesmerized by the flashy scientific and technological methods police labs were using to build cases against criminals.

    June 21, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Forging ahead

    Life in the digital world has changed drastically for many community institutions. But the Vigo County Public Library, which has navigated various minefields of change in recent years, has shown it can adapt, even improve.

    June 19, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: More needed from Speaker

    Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma did what most people expected he would do in the wake of Speaker Pro Tem Eric Turner’s ethics probe.

    June 18, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: A woman in the House

    The twists and turns of politics can produce unpredictable results. Just ask Bionca Gambill.

    June 17, 2014

  • tstribunestar EDITORIAL: Enticing more students back to campus a worthwhile initiative

    Of all of the educational initiatives paraded before Indiana residents in recent years — some ideas worthy, others flops — none seems more timely or more on point than one approved by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education last week.

    June 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • EDITORIAL: Celebrating local success

    It’s always an uplifting occasion when good things happen to good people. And so we join in the celebration of three people who this week achieved a new level of success and recognition for their professional and personal contributions to life in Terre Haute and the Wabash Valley.

    June 12, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Shoring up the VA

    How America cares for its veterans is indicative of its values as a nation. We’re confident the vast majority of citizens agree that health care for military vets through the country’s network of VA hospitals should meet or exceed common-sense expectations.

    June 11, 2014

  • Editorial: Playing the Nazi card

    There was good news to report from the Indiana Republican Party Convention conducted last weekend in Fort Wayne. The GOP nominated three women to top its general election ballot in November. There isn’t much gender equity in Hoosier politics, so seeing these three rise to the top of the Republican ballot this year is refreshing. But perhaps the best news is that Richard Mourdock, two-term state treasurer and unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Senate in 2012, will no longer hold public office at the end of this year.

    June 10, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Cleaner environment will help boost city’s image

    In Terre Haute, the difference is becoming apparent between responsible stewardship of the environment and a look-the-other-way attitude about dumping harmful materials.

    June 7, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Ernie Pyle’s words told a personal story

    Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the day when Allied Forces led by the United States military invaded France on the beaches at Normandy. It was the crucial turning point of World War II against Nazi Germany. To observe this somber anniversary, we have given this page’s editorial space the past three days to the columns written by Ernie Pyle in the invasion’s aftermath. Pyle filed three columns about D-Day that were circulated widely in American newspapers beginning June 12, 1944. The first appeared Wednesday. The second appeared Thursday. This is the final column.

    June 5, 2014 2 Stories

  • EDITORIAL: Ernie Pyle walked the beaches of Normandy

    NORMANDY BEACHHEAD, June 16, 1944 — I took a walk along the historic coast of Normandy in the country of France.
    It was a lovely day for strolling along the seashore. Men were sleeping on the sand, some of them sleeping forever. Men were floating in the water, but they didn’t know they were in the water, for they were dead.

    June 4, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Remembering D-Day — in the words of Ernie Pyle

    NORMANDY BEACHHEAD, June 12, 1944 — Due to a last-minute alteration in the arrangements, I didn’t arrive on the beachhead until the morning after D-day, after our first wave of assault troops had hit the shore. By the time we got here the beaches had been taken and the fighting had moved a couple of miles inland. All that remained on the beach was some sniping and artillery fire, and the occasional startling blast of a mine geysering brown sand into the air. That plus a gigantic and pitiful litter of wreckage along miles of shoreline.

    June 3, 2014

  • tstribunestar EDITORIAL: Rape, sexual assault demand greater attention

    When the facts, figures, commentary and analysis about the devastating impact of rape in our society have been consumed, the daunting, even haunting, question is: What can we do to stop it?

    May 31, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • Editorial: GOP takes up marriage battle — again

    All eyes will focus on Indiana’s dominant political party next week as it meets to nominate candidates to statewide office for the fall election. But nominating candidates won’t be the item on the Indiana GOP convention’s agenda that garners the most attention. Rather, the public will be watching how delegates handle a proposal to reintroduce the concept of supporting the state’s same-sex marriage ban, which was deleted from the party’s platform during a previous convention.

    May 29, 2014

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