Everybody knows their “woulda, coulda, shoulda” moments.
Right moment, right place, right thing to do — but that choice involved too much work, sweat, time or Extra Strength Tylenol. Later, we realize the truth of the old saying, “If the right thing was easy, everybody would be doing it.”
The thought of Terre Haute’s lost opportunities crossed my mind last week as I studied some city history in the wake of Duke Bennett’s historic victory in the local mayoral race. He became the first Republican re-elected as mayor since Ora D. Davis’ run from 1922 to ’29 — nearly 90 years ago. Some defining elements of the community became realities under Davis, particularly Deming Park and Memorial Stadium. But what left me shaking my head was a handful of Davis-backed proposals that got shelved — a 40-mile greenway drive circumnavigating the city, a breathtaking arch straddling U.S. 40 to greet motorists at the Wabash River’s edge, and an extension of South Center Street to Wabash Avenue.
Davis planned for all three. Others — too timid, frugal or resistant to change — let those visions die.
As Bennett begins a second term, Hauteans need to keep ideas on the city’s frontburner. Paved streets, fire and police protection, and a relatively cheap cost of living are great, but should be baseline expectations. To grow, Terre Haute must continually work to accentuate its distinctions, and develop more of those unique assets.
Bennett has a list. He sees potential in a cluster of ongoing projects, including a city-county master trails plan, a strategic plan for Terre Haute International Airport, Riverscape, the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative, and a railroad traffic relief study, among others. Each could transform the quality of life here, and would if carried through to completion. The community should fully commit to getting them done, no matter how complicated or uncomfortable the process gets.
Last summer, members of the Tribune-Star newsroom staff tried to envision what might happen to Terre Haute during the next 10 years. Some predictions were positive, others negative, and the plus-or-minus value of some depended on individual viewpoint. Anticipating the bad isn’t merely pessimism; it’s prudent. Wise people don’t hope for floods or crime, but prepare to contain those problems. Likewise, imagining new structures and amenities isn’t irresponsible; that’s how previous generations conceived and built St. Benedict Catholic Church, Hulman Center, the Seventh Street Arts Corridor, Tilson Auditorium, Bob Warn Field, your high school alma mater, the local college campuses, Ohio Boulevard, and, yes, Deming Park and Memorial Stadium.
So, with that understanding, let’s glance at some of the Trib-Star reporting crew’s expectations for the decade ahead.
• The airport finds its niche, not with special vacation passenger flights, but as an expanded FedEx or DHL site for cargo delivery. (Maximizing that resource — Terre Haute International — diversifies the local economy.)
• Somehow, land between Clay and Vigo counties draws federal funding to develop a new battery plant for electric cars. (Elkhart, in northern Indiana, is home to the all-electric Think North America car factory.)
• The city population drops as Baby Boomers pass on. (Terre Haute’s under-18 population decreased by 1,401 people from 2000 to 2010, and the 65-and-older age group accounts for 13.5 percent of the overall population, compared to 12.9 percent nationally. The community must attract young people and families.)
• With new jobs and industry, will Terre Haute get positions that pay decent wages? (To turn that question into a positive prediction something must change. Only seven counties have a median household income lower than Vigo County’s at $37,876, which is well below the state median of $45,427.)
• A women’s prison is added to the Federal Correctional Complex. (Sadly, corrections appears to be a growth industry in Indiana.)
• One or two more hotels develop when the 641 Bypass is completed. (Ideally, the bypass will generate some business.)
• New breweries and wineries emerge. (The nearest winery is scenic Castle Finn between Marshall and Paris in Illinois, and the Terre Haute Brewery could use some company on the local beer-making landscape.)
• The city will annex parts of southern Vigo County. (If so, could Terre Haute stretch its fire and police protection, as well as other services to the outlying areas?)
• The number of taxpaying businesses shrinks. (Many of the above listings could affect that unwanted possibility.)
• The meth epidemic will continue to grow. (The concerted efforts already in place in the community should continue, and state legislators should pay closer attention to local ideas — including a measure on prescription-only sales of drugs containing pseudoephedrine, a proposal likely to resurface in the Legislature next year — to curb that scourge.)
• Public sector employment will continue in dynamic fashion. (Education and health care account for nearly one-third of the jobs in Terre Haute and Vigo County. Thus, the cascade of state cuts in public education funding has a deeper impact here than in some other Hoosier towns.)
• The newsroom staffers also speculated on how the next 10 years might alter large employers such as Sony DADC and the hospitals, organized labor, and downtown redevelopment. How can Terre Haute prepare for life after disc-technology, new systems of health care, continued attempts by the Statehouse to restrict unions, and the investment needed to keep downtown Terre Haute lively?
By 2020, Deming Park will be on the brink of its 100th anniversary. What addition to Terre Haute in the coming decade could still be serving the community a century later? Should the community pursue such an idea? Would the city even try it? The right answer to the latter two questions would be, yes. The answer to the first question is up to us.
Mark Bennett can be reached at (812) 231-4377 or mark.bennett@
MARK BENNETT: With an historic election behind Terre Haute, it’s time to look at the future’s possibilities
Everybody knows their “woulda, coulda, shoulda” moments.
- Mark Bennett Opinion
MARK BENNETT: New public-access point begins quest to create more spots to experience river
Fairness holds no power over the Wabash River.
MARK BENNETT: People spaces
Demolition machinery chipped away at the buildings on the 500 block of Wabash Avenue. I stood and watched awhile, last week. By July 2015, a new $18.7-million structure will replace those relics.
MARK BENNETT: Blessings of a long, cold, snowy winter
As spring, summer arrive, Hoosiers will appreciate icy months (well, maybe a little)
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Illinois served as the easy target.
At that moment.
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We’re pretty smart here in middle America.
Our DNA carries the common-sense chromosome. From birth, Midwestern culture begins honing us into the most rational and perceptive of human beings. Sure, our prisons are full, but generally, we mean well. And we’re wise.
MARK BENNETT: Remembering the less glitzy days on Manning’s road to the Super Bowl
A blur of memories.
They’ll flicker fast and furious tonight, like a spinning Rolodex, when Peyton Manning runs onto the MetLife Stadium turf in Jersey City, as a Denver Bronco, playing for a Super Bowl ring against the Seattle Seahawks. Most Hauteans will experience flashbacks, too.
MARK BENNETT: A lengthening climb
The American economy is improving.
Confidence has risen since the government shutdown by the polarized Congress last fall. Indicators in various sectors show promise.
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Without a DeLorean, there’s no going back to 1995.
MARK BENNETT: What is Indiana’s image in the eyes of the world?
A bus pulled up to the curb near the riverfront in downtown Chicago. An unusual advertisement was painted on its side.
Raising the bar
Around coffeeshops, kitchen tables and office watercoolers, Hoosiers have cussed and discussed the federal health care law.
MARK BENNETT: ABA’s record proves Bobby Leonard’s a legit Hall of Famer
Bobby Leonard symbolized the feisty competitive flair of the old ABA.
MARK BENNETT: Letter from coach’s young daughter put pro sports, Christmas in perspective
Most of us sympathize with people forced to work on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
That list is growing, now that Black Friday has morphed into Black Thursday, causing retail employees to join doctors, nurses, hospital staffers, police, firefighters, emergency responders, military members, convenience store clerks, road crews and media to spend holidays at work. Ideally, we’ll feel gratitude when we require their services on those special days. Too often, their sacrificed time gets taken for granted.
Terry Leonard wanted the executives to remember her dad, and their family, at Christmastime.
And, amazingly, they listened.
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Determination to get that diploma Larry Bird’s deepest bond with fellow ISU alums, students
MARK BENNETT: Brad Fenton and friends set dominos in motion to make Larry Bird statue a reality
The idea has been out there for awhile, floating.
Locals in the 1980s, ’90s and 2000s would say, “They need to put up a statue of Larry Bird. I mean, one of the all-time greatest basketball players played right here in Terre Haute at Indiana State University.”
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Use the classic Tommy Tutone song to memorize the following number …
MARK BENNETT: One-ring blues?
Minutes before kickoff tonight, the Lucas Oil Stadium tech crew should play Sam Cooke’s classic, “(What a) Wonderful World” over the sound system.
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Northwestern Parke County — The stream merely trickles beneath Mill Creek Bridge. It’s just a few inches deep, but the water keeps moving.
MARK BENNETT: Terre Haute native Tommy John belongs in Cooperstown for pitching like a Hall of Famer
Few players in history left a greater impact on baseball than Tommy John.
And he did so through his performance on the field.
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“Must See TV,” where have you gone?
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The members of Congress ardently resisting the Affordable Care Act emphasize its unpopularity.
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The ad stands as a campaign classic. Its scenario is part of history. Its narrator would be familiar to millions of Americans, yet anonymous, too.
MARK BENNETT: Transparency in public decision-making includes sincerely listening to the people
Transparency isn’t universally accepted in public entities.
MARK BENNETT: This Little Light: Remote chapel keeps a light shining on story of Flight 93
Father Al explained the meaning of the lamp. He asked me to light it.
The reverence in his voice offset the raspiness, left by his latest battle with cancer. Clearly, he saw this place as special.
MARK BENNETT: Reflections on the Wabash
The series “500 Miles of Wabash” wrapped up last Sunday after a five-week run. Readers offered some enlightening insights, memories and photographs as the series unfolded.
MARK BENNETT: Current Information: Put your Wabash knowledge to the test … or quiz
Just for fun, ponder a few questions concerning the large waterway flowing through Indiana and Terre Haute, as the Tribune-Star’s series, “500 Miles of Wabash” concludes in today’s editions. Those who’ve followed the five-part series of stories, photographs and videos about people and communities uniquely embracing the Wabash River may have a head start. If you’re just catching up, check them out in the online editions at www.tribstar.com.
- Answers to the Wabash River Quiz
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MARK BENNETT: Questions of fairness, impartiality, public trust legitimate in wake of school rating controversy
The discovery of a double-standard in public policy — or the appearance of it — weakens trust. The acceptance of a double-standard in public policy — or the appearance of it — erases trust. Indiana needs to draw a clear line between the former and the latter, and not cross it.
MARK BENNETT: Living downstream: From source, Wabash bears mark of mankind mile after mile
Something was missing. I’d never visited this spot before, but the view looked familiar. I’ve walked the banks of the Wabash River and its tributaries countless times, catching crawdads and skipping rocks in Honey Creek as a kid. On the other side of the state, where the Wabash crosses from Ohio into Indiana, trees arched over the water as it ran under a bridge on a quiet country road. It looked like western Indiana, except for one absent element. Litter.
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I fielded an hilariously disturbing question recently. A friend asked if the word “Hautean” is meant to be a derogatory label.
- More Mark Bennett Opinion Headlines
- MARK BENNETT: New public-access point begins quest to create more spots to experience river