News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 6, 2013

READERS’ FORUM: Jan. 6, 2013


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Be happy, let gays be happy

From Bigot. Pronounced: [big-uh t] — noun; 1 — a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.

Let me begin by admitting I have been a bigot about certain things in the past, and remain a bigot on only one topic at this point (that’s another letter).

In the recent past there has been a writer or two trying to justify why we should support gay marriage bans. One silly fellow tried to explain in detail how gay marriage is bad for business. Really? From where I’m sitting, it is Indiana that is bad for business, not gay people. The other end of the anti-gay marriage movement seems to be coming from the Christian crowd. Hey, I have news for you … it is nature, not nurture, so God is the culprit if you want to blame someone for the gays among us. He has a plan, and that plan includes gay people (to put it in terms you can understand).

And since politics seems to be a hot-button topic in these pages, here’s one for you: We’re paying our representatives and senators to legislate gay marriage bans in lieu of legislating real effective laws and regulations. I, for one, would rather my tax dollars be spent lowering my taxes.

Is it necessary we ostracize a segment of society? Do we need to say, “No, you cannot be happy”? Is it terminology? Because if it is, let’s simply call it a civil union, and let it carry the same legal weight as marriage. I have been friends with people who are gay, and they were, on the whole, more caring, concerned and supportive than my straight friends. I guess living for acceptance makes you more accepting.

I know short is sweet, and far more likely to be published, but I have just one more gripe: please, someone give Joe DeLorme of Clay City a happy pill. The poor guy had a political conniption fit in the opinion pages prior to the election, and is still having a fit after the election. Save the doom and gloom, Joe, eat some chocolate, be happy.

— Michael G. Davis


Is ‘industrial’ best use of contaminated city property?

The Tribune-Star, on Dec. 12, 2012, reported that HIS Constructors Inc. of Indianapolis was awarded a $2.7 million contract to “remediate” 20 acres of the former Terre Haute Coke and Carbon site at 13th and Hulman streets. The project requires the removing of about 80,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil. Soil tests identified tar, arsenic, lead, naphthalene, benzo(a)pyrene and other toxic substances. According to the company, they specialize in civil construction and environmental remediation. According to Pat Martin, city planner, “This is our first major step for redevelopment of the site and reclamation of the site.”

Hopefully, HIS Constructors will follow federal and state regulations during the cleanup process. This would include proper hazmat clothing and equipment for the workers, covered dump trucks, posting of signs warning of the project and ensuring that none of the contaminated soil is blown into non-contaminated areas or deposited on the streets and roads as it is moved to the Sycamore Ridge Landfill. Likewise, a tar pit at the site will be capped and the landfill site will require a cap.

Arthur Foulkes’ Dec. 10, 2012 article, “Cleaning up a legacy: Old coke and carbon plant provided good, bad,” was well-researched and well-written. He noted that only 20 acres of the original 53 acres of the site is scheduled for cleanup. I would like to know the status of the remaining 33 acres. Has this soil been tested for contamination? The original site extended across Hulman north to Washington Street. Currently there are apartments, homes, the Fraternal Order of Police, The Cabin and other 13th Street businesses on the former site. Is this property safe from contamination?

What I, and hopefully others, find unacceptable is that city officials “hope” to transform the site into a location for private, light-industrial manufacturing. The Terre Haute Department of Redevelopment continues to have a myopic fixation on jobs and taxes rising from the ashes of this ecological disaster. What is desperately needed is a cogent argument based solely on facts with a predictable outcome, not merely hope that “if you build it they will come.” Can city officials guarantee that this site will become a successful economic development project? Will this become another example of wasting taxpayer money and bad judgment?

Vigo County currently has industrial parks which comprise 2,435 acres. Park I (VCIP I) is a 1,500 acre site which has underground power, natural gas, sanitary sewer, potable water and fiber optic services in place and ready to go. Park II (VCIP II) is the former Pfizer site north of VCIP I. It consists of 935 acres, to include an existing 350,000 square foot manufacturing facility. CSX rail serves both sites. Both parks are located six miles south of Interstate 70 on U.S. 41 South. There was an environmental issue at the former Pfizer site and it was cleaned up. With 2,435 acres of developed industrial park land, why do we need 20 acres at 13th and Hulman? Will we advertise this new industrial park as a former contaminated coke and carbon facility; build at your own risk? The Department of Redevelopment would have to add an addendum similar to a drug company “side effects” warning. “Caution: building here and working here may result in headaches, diarrhea, vomiting or possibly death.”

The Dec. 13, 2012, Tribune-Star editorial, “Inherited public expense,” provided a clear perspective on what we have inherited and will have to pay. The initial 20-acre clean-up will cost an estimated $7.5 million and the remaining 33 acres may take five to 10 years, with a total cost of $16 million. This problem was not created by any current officials; however, they can “stop the foolishness.” Take a deep breath, proceed with the clean-up, test all of the other exposed areas and turn the site into an urban prairie. Plant wildflowers, grasses and trees. Build hiking/walking paths and a place to exercise dogs.

Maybe several basketball courts would be appropriate.

Businesses will relocate to Terre Haute for quality-of-life features, such as parks, schools, cultural activities and clean air, but not for quantity of contaminated land. I cannot envision a business, after finding out about the history of this site, building anything. We need a very persuasive reason to be convinced that this site is worth developing, at taxpayer expense, into another industrial park. This is the time for responsible redevelopment, not the reckless wasting of taxpayer’s money, resulting in the creation of another abandoned industrial park.

— Gary S. Izo

Terre Haute

Celebrating the Wabash River through music

Thirteen musical groups, including a total of 37 musicians from this region, are to be commended for the very special CD they recently recorded for Art Spaces, with songs about the Wabash River. This river has been sadly overlooked for too long and their heartfelt songs nicely capture the spirit of place and the beauty and character of the river. It is called simply, “The Wabash.”

The performers include (in the order they appear on the CD) Justin Hoeppner; Roxie Randle (Roxie Randle, Cary Stone and Doug Frasure); Will Foraker; Dicky James and the Blue Flames (Dicky James, Will Cox, John Beeson, Bob Freeze and Mark Ford); Tom Roznowski; Crow Cannons (Jimmy Caldwell and Matthew Edwards); David Hanners (David Hanners, Richard Lee, Bob Nordquist and Amy Brockman); Diamond Hill Station (Michael White, Bruce Anderson and Lloyd Shonk); Yearbook Committee (Christina Blust, Rachel Rasley, Brad Lone, David Goodier and Jon DaCosta); Brent McPike and Solly Burton; Judson Hill (Marc Rogers, Jr. and Alexa McFadden); Faron Glenn and the Midwest Playboys (Faron Glenn, Bill Swain, Harper, Bill Harper and Denny Glenn); and Extrachordinary (Sam Gehman, Andrew Colbert, Peter Davis, and John Sponsler).

More information about the CD is available on the Art Spaces website,

The funds raised from sales will support the “Paul Dresser Project” for Fairbanks Park. A popular Terre Haute composer, Dresser became known around the world and deserves recognition in his hometown, Terre Haute.  His song, “On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away,” became an international hit and, in 1913, our state song. (The Wabash is also Indiana’s official state river.)

It is fitting to have our river celebrated at this particular time by musical artists from our region on the cusp of the 100th anniversary of Dresser’s song being recognized and adopted by the state Legislature to represent Indiana.

In addition to the state song, the CD includes many original compositions written just this fall, alongside lively recreations of older songs. “The Wabash” is a unique CD and we are proud to bring this music to a wide audience.

My three fellow producers deserve so much applause. They are Don Arney, Mark Bennett and Ted Piechocinski, each bringing a particular expertise and determination (not to mention many hours) to this project, and providing me with the confidence and assistance without which “The Wabash” would have been no more than just a good idea. Truly, a dream team.

I also want to thank Ariane Detamore for her wonderful graphic design for the CD; Paul Bennett and Brendan Kearns for their time on the river for the cover shot; and members of the Art Spaces Cultural Trail Committee (Marylee Hagan, Bev Cristee, Cindy Cox, Sherry Dailey, Bill Kincius, Jon Robeson and Chris Schellenberg) for their assistance and support.

There is music for everyone on this CD. It can be purchased for $10 in Terre Haute at Art Spaces, Arts Illiana, Baesler’s Market; Barnes & Noble at ISU, Coffee Grounds, Boo Lloyd’s Corner Grind, Finzel’s Mastertech, Harmonious Hedgehog, Headstone Friends and Vigo County Historical Society; in Bloomington at Howard’s Books and Landlocked Music; in Greencastle at the Greencastle Music Center; and in Lafayette at Tippecanoe Arts Federation.  Online it is available through CD Baby.

Thanks to these area venues for helping us with sales and also to the print and broadcast media for fantastic and informative articles that helped to get the word out.

What a great way to start out 2013 Year of the River, with music all about the Wabash River. Look for much more river-related music throughout 2013 as many of our local music organizations and groups present their own public events.

Again, Art Spaces is so grateful to “The Wabash” musicians for their generosity and talent, and to everyone who played a role in the success of this fundraising effort.

— Mary Kramer

Executive Director Art Spaces, Inc.

Terre Haute

Getting started on town cleanup

This is a letter about beautifying Main Street in Brazil, or otherwise the downtown area.

There’s nothing wrong with trying to clean up a town.

But what gets me is you get someone strolling around in this town that nobody knows where they are even from, buying an old rundown building named after some rich guy named Davis back in the old days.

They claimed they ran some kind of coffee shop called Cool Beans, back wherever they came from, wherever that is.

Then this group called Brazil Main Street makes this stranger the president of their group less than a year after they came here. It used to be run by some guy.

They also said they were going to have a coffee shop where an old bank in the Davis building used to be.

The so-called coffee shop never materialized.

They mentioned the coffee shop two years ago. I haven’t seen any coffee shop yet.

They did start a farmers market with merchandise booths and food booths in what used to be Oehler’s Five & Dime store.

They did make the front of the building look a little better.

Then they encouraged people to adopt city blocks to clean up charging outrageous prices for trash barrels and flower pots.

I don’t know where these people are actually from, but I guess they did make some sort of an impression on this town, Brazil.

— John Weddle