TERRE HAUTE —
Heated words filled the driest air felt in more than half a century, as the days of 2012 blew through the calendar.
The year brought with it elections which broke records for money spent on campaign advertising. By the time November rolled around, the U.S. Center for Responsive Politics estimated more than $5.8 billion had been spent on national elections from presidential to congressional.
Incumbent President Barack Obama faced Republican challenger Mitt Romney, winning re-election by an electoral count of 303 to 206 — 59,725,608 votes to 57,098,650 in the popular count.
In Indiana, Republicans maintained control of the governor’s mansion as Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Pence defeated former state representative Democrat John Gregg 50 percent to 46. After eight years, Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels left office due to term limits and accepted a position as president of Purdue University, which he said he will start right after Pence is sworn in.
Incumbent Republican Attorney General Greg Zoeller retained his office against Democrat Kay Fleming by a margin of 58 to 42 percent. Meanwhile, Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Education, Republican Tony Bennett, lost to Democrat challenger Glenda Ritz by a margin of 53 to 47 percent.
Indiana’s U.S. Senate seat maintained by longtime statesman Republican Richard Lugar ended up going to the Democrats after Lugar was defeated by Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock in the spring primary. Mourdock was defeated by Democrat U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly by a margin of 50 to 44 percent.
Locally, Vigo County Councilman Brad Anderson became the first Republican to win a spot on the Vigo County Board of Commissioners since 1994, defeating incumbent Democrat Paul Mason, who assumed that office in 1998. Anderson had been the lone Republican on the Vigo County Council and was subsequently replaced by former Republican councilman Mike Morris through a party caucus.
The Drought of 2012
Scorching heat burst record after record throughout the summer of 2012, with precipitation measured by the decimal point for months.
According to the National Weather Service, total precipitation for Terre Haute in June amounted to 0.23 inches, with only 0.45 in July. From March 1 through Aug. 25, several weather records were set, including one for hottest air temperature at 105 degrees by 5 p.m. July 25 at the Terre Haute International Airport. The prior record had been 102 degrees in 1934.
In July alone, 11 days brought temperatures exceeding 100 degrees, and the coolest daytime temperature that month was July 20 at 86.
By Sunday, the total amount of precipitation recorded for 2012 was 26.99 inches, considerably short of the annual average of about 42.4 inches. The Wabash River remained at 3.24 feet as of Sunday, about 9 feet short of the 14-foot flood level.
Rains eventually dampened the grounds in mid-August, but not in time to save crops. The entire state baked in the dry categories of the U.S. Drought Monitor for most of the summer, with portions of Vanderburgh County classified as D2-D4, or severe drought, and Sullivan County in D1-D4, or moderate drought.
Billie Creek Village is history
The historic pioneer village located east of Rockville on U.S. 36 closed early in 2012, with owner Charlie Cooper, 81, bringing in Key Auctioneers from Indianapolis in an attempt to sell it. Bids generated from multiple attempts were unsuccessful and according to the village’s website, its activities remained suspended at the end of December, although Cooper had stated earlier the facilities could be leased for private affairs such as weddings going forward.
A sealed-bid auction was hosted early in September but failed to draw sufficient offers. The property was exposed to public auction inside the village’s Baptist Church at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 22. About 90 people attended that auction process, where the compound was divided into three parcels. The first 19.17-acre parcel contained the historic village itself, all buildings and the contents therein, and one covered bridge. The top offer for that grouping came in at $250,000.
The second parcel, which also contained a covered bridge, included 41.78 acres, a barn, farmhouse and all contents of both. Bids for that ground topped out at $280,000.
The third parcel contained 3.66 acres and parking lot near Billie Creek Inn. Bids for that settled at $20,000. Bidders were availed the opportunity to mix and match, or combine all three parcels into one purchase of the sum, $550,000. All interested parties declined, and Cooper rejected the bids after a three-day review period.
Cooper reportedly purchased the financially struggling Billie Creek Village Inc. in an effort to keep it operating, but said that 81, he is too old to maintain the property with the attention it needs.
A YMCA reborn
Closed as the Riverbank Family & Fitness at the end of 2010, the building was re-born in June as the Vigo County YMCA. An open house for the new facility was hosted June 18, with CEO Deb Plummer Ringo ushering in a variety of programs ranging from day care and Zumba to basketball.
Opened by its parent organization, the Clay County YMCA, the Terre Haute facility operates at 951 Dresser Drive in Fairbanks Park, opening in June with more than 1,100 memberships.
Historical references date the Terre Haute YMCA’s organizational origins back to 1892, with a Terre Haute YWCA established in 1902. In 2006, the YMCA and YWCA merged into the Terre Haute Family Y, operating out of the facility at Dresser Drive, but in October 2010 the organization disaffiliated with the YMCA and began operating as Riverbank Family & Fitness through its closure in December.
Officials cited ongoing financial shortfalls as the cause of the closing. The building itself was owned by the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana, who in turn handed it over to the City of Terre Haute and its parks department.
Discussions between the city and Clay County YMCA were initiated in 2011 and culminated in the new organization more than a year later. Representatives from both groups credited the Clay County organization’s financial solvency and successful programming as key ingredients to potential success in Terre Haute.
New faces at local nonprofits
A trio of community organizations experienced change this year as leadership turned over at the Terre Haute International Airport, Downtown Terre Haute Inc. and the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce.
Retired U.S. Navy Captain Bill McKown assumed the position of executive director at the airport, with Darrel Zeck appointed director of operations.
McKown, a native of Riverside, Calif., served 35 years as a military aviator, beginning in September 1972, after graduation from Southern Illinois University. His service began with nine years in the U.S. Air Force, but ultimately finished with the Navy from whence he retired a captain, earning a graduate degree in national resource strategy from the National Defense University along the way.
In addition to piloting some of the first missions off carriers in support of Desert Storm, McKown served in roles ranging from squad commander to “air boss” aboard the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk. Since retiring from the Navy, McKown most recently served as manager of Stevens Field in Pagosa Springs, Colo.
Zeck came to the airport from his position as director of communications for Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett, but the U.S. Air Force veteran and current member of the Air National Guard’s 181st Intelligence Battalion actually got off the ground washing planes as a young man, eventually working his way up to flight planner for Air Force One for U.S. presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
The Michigan native got his start in aviation while working at the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport’s Fixed Base Operator, washing down planes and pumping gas. After attending the University of Michigan, Zeck enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, starting out in command and control, earning the honor of becoming the Air Force’s first noncommissioned officer to serve as a flight planner, work that led to his service with Air Force One. After his discharge, he went to Lockheed Martin as a military operations specialist. That job led to another with American Trans Air. In 2009, Zeck re-enlisted in the military, this time with the Indiana Air National Guard’s 181st Intelligence Wing.
Likewise, the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce appointed a new leader in Ken Brengle, who accepted the position in July after former CEO Rod Henry retired in 2011.
The Colorado native had most recently been CEO of the West Chamber of Commerce in Jefferson County, Colo., a community of about 250,000 people. An avid golfer, Brengle was a three-sport athlete in high school and played football at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo. After graduation, he worked for small chambers of commerce in Colorado, accepting leadership positions at Big Bear Lake Resort Association in California and Jefferson County, Colo., along the way.
Downtown Terre Haute Inc. also appointed a new leader in Ariane Marie King, who became the organization’s operations director in July.
The Vigo County native graduated from Terre Haute South Vigo High School in 2000, earning an undergraduate degree at Indiana State University in 2005 and a master’s in leadership development from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in 2010.
King became affiliated with downtown organizations while an intern with Art Spaces Inc. where she worked on projects such as the Max Ehrmann statue now located at Seventh Street and Wabash Avenue.
Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or email@example.com
Last of five parts
TERRE HAUTE —
Heated words filled the driest air felt in more than half a century, as the days of 2012 blew through the calendar.
- Local & Bistate
Troubled bridge over water
For years, the iconic, arched foot-bridge at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College had been the backdrop for pictures of newlyweds, prom-goers and Woodsies.
Pool construction bids, principals approved
After more than a year of discussion, debate and planning, work on the new Vigo Schools Aquatic Center at Voorhees Park is expected to begin today.
‘Launch’ pad for creativity
In an effort to foster entrepreneurs to begin and grow their ideas into a start-up business in Vigo County, “Launch Terre Haute” will host a co-work open house Wednesday.
Gelato at 12 Points
Coffee and gelato are now on the menu on Terre Haute’s north side.
Man pulled from Raccoon Lake
Indiana Conservation divers recovered a Veedersburg man reportedly submerged Monday afternoon at Raccoon Lake in Parke County.
UPDATE: Faulty brakes blamed for bus crash
Police in Knoxville, Tenn., confirmed Monday that a Clay County church bus involved in a fatal crash last week had faulty brakes.
Police in Indy nab 2nd suspect in homicide case
A second man has been arrested in connection with a homicide in Greene County. The Indiana State Police confirmed that Jason Lee Caldwell, 35, was arrested Monday morning by Indianapolis police.
Police credit public tips for meth lab bust
Tips from the community helped lead to the arrest of a Terre Haute woman on charges including the manufacture and possession of methamphetamine.
Four dead after five-vehicle crash on Interstate
Interstate 55 northbound near Joliet, Illinois, was closed Monday night after a four-fatality, multi-vehicle crash, Illinois State Police said in a press release.
Police: Brakes on church bus involved in fatal crash were faulty
Investigators confirmed there was a problem with the brakes on a Clay County church bus involved in a fatal accident last week in Knoxville, Tenn.
Dog attacks and kills Indiana baby in Ohio
DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Authorities say a 7-month-old boy attacked and killed by a dog in southwestern Ohio was from Indiana.
Vigo County Jail Log: July 21, 2014
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, based on jail records.
New alcohol charge against John Mellencamp’s son
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — The 20-year-old son of rock star John Mellencamp faces an underage drinking charge while awaiting resolution of charges that he and his brother seriously injured a man in a fight.
Dump truck crash kills 1, closes Indiana highway
FRENCH LICK, Ind. (AP) — State police say a crash that killed a dump truck driver closed a southern Indiana highway for several hours as crews worked to remove the vehicle from the roadway.
Update: Second man in police custody in connection with Greene County homicide
A second man has been arrested in connection with a reported homicide in Greene County. The Indiana State Police confirmed that Jason Lee Caldwell, 35, was arrested this morning by Indianapolis police.
Capitol Crossroads: Indiana Democrats deal with education split
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — On the face of it, the battles between Democratic Schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz and supporters and staff for Republican Gov. Mike Pence have been a unifying force for Indiana Democrats. But the scrapping has exposed a deep rift within the party over how students are educated.
Restaurant Inspections: July 21, 2014
June 30-July 4
Prosecutors: Expungement law has good, bad sides
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — An Indiana law allowing some criminals to have their records expunged is drawing mixed reviews from judges and attorneys, who say parts of the law don’t make sense.
Tour de force
Pedal by pedal, a group of cyclists endured the hot summer sun and braved varying Indiana terrain on a mission to support survivors of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
Living in a dream
“Welcome to the dream home!”
These were the words that greeted guests on Sunday as they entered a white, two-story home on the east side of Terre Haute.
MIKE LUNSFORD: Lake Michigan’s ‘Wonderful World of Color’
Despite the beauty around us, Joanie and I thought of television as we sat on a gorgeous Michigan beach one evening last week.
UPDATE: One suspect in homicide in custody
Police have taken one Greene County man into custody and the search entered its second day on Sunday for the other suspect, both wanted on charges of murder and considered “armed and dangerous.”
STATE OF THE STATEHOUSE: Expiring term heightens the urgency of one lawmaker’s push for reform
State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki had plans for her return to the General Assembly next January.
The two-term Republican from Kosciusko County wanted to exert “full force” to roll back a law that prevents the children of undocumented immigrants from paying in-state tuition to attend state colleges and universities.
Wanted men 'armed and dangerous,' police say
A police search entered its second day on Sunday for two Greene County wanted for murder and who are considered “armed and dangerous.”
Small step, big memory
Terre Haute resident Rob Eberwein remembers being “blown away” as he watched astronaut Neil Armstrong become the first human to walk on the moon.
Group working to preserve ‘The Grove’
Tucked into a peaceful corner of northeastern Vigo County, the Lost Creek Community Grove has seen more than 100 years of gatherings.
12 Points Hotel doesn’t sell
No new owner stepped forward to claim the historic 12 Points Hotel on Saturday.
School board to award aquatics center bids Monday
The Vigo County School Board on Monday is expected to award bids for the new $9.8 million Vigo Schools Aquatic Center, to be built at Voorhees Park.
Terre Haute native pivotal in race to moon
This week’s 45-year anniversary of the historic launch of the Apollo 11 mission propelled America’s space program and on April 20, 1969, kept a promise that Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology alumnus Abe Silverstein had made to President John F. Kennedy in 1961 to put a man on the moon within a decade.
Buzz Aldrin: Where were you when I walked on moon?
On July 20, 1969, Buzz Aldrin was “out of town” when the world united and rejoiced in a way never seen before or since.
- More Local & Bistate Headlines
- Troubled bridge over water