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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Historic Ohio Boulevard house inspired by 1948 Cary Grant movie
Spurred in 1948 by a newly released movie staring Cary Grant and Myrna Loy, coupled with a growing post-World War II housing market, General Electric partnered with Hollywood’s RKO Studios to build “dream homes” throughout the country.
A panel of public and private officials is calling for $10 billion in projects to upgrade Indiana’s aging roads and bridges, but its members concede there’s no money to pay for it all.
MARK BENNETT: Making road work a barrel of fun for drivers
We’re lucky orange barrels can’t talk.
City Council to take up city finances tonight
The Terre Haute City Council will have a chance in a special meeting tonight to delve deeply into the city’s financial health. However, council members are being asked to avoid raising the most controversial subject of recent weeks: The city’s use of Redevelopment Commission tax increment finance (TIF) money.
Bennett accepts $5,000 fine in ethics settlement
Former Indiana Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett has agreed to pay $5,000 as part of a settlement with Indiana’s ethics watchdog in which he admits to using state resources for campaign work but is cleared of formal ethics violations in the grade-change scandal that cost him his job as Florida’s schools chief last year.
Vermillion Jail trusties face new charges
Two former inmate trusties at the Vermillion County Jail face new criminal charges after a recently discovered security breach at the jail.
Lawrence police acquire armored military vehicle
A central Indiana city has acquired an armored military vehicle for use in highly dangerous situations.
Free carwash for law enforcement
Mike’s Carwash locations in Central Indiana, including Terre Haute, will honor the sacrifice of IMPD Officer Perry Renn and thank all those who serve and protect our communities with a free carwash for police and emergency personnel today and Friday.
Hitting a high note
A 17-year-old from Casey, Ill., won “The Voice of the Valley” Tuesday night, singing and shaking his hips and legs to an Elvis Presley song, then wooing the grandstand audience at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds with a country tune.
Clay County residents clean up debris, get power back
Several power outages still affected hundreds of Duke Energy customers on Tuesday, more than 24 hours after storms and strong winds swept through west-central Indiana, leaving a swath of damage in the Staunton, Brazil and Center Point areas.
Return to Indiana?
Evan Bayh is keeping Indiana Democrats on hold.
Planning under way for 2014 Downtown Block Party
Wabash Avenue will be full of activity Aug. 23 as the 2014 Downtown Terre Haute Block Party takes over five city blocks in a celebration of music, food and events.
Guys give food bank a lift
A $14,000 donation Tuesday from Guys Who Give enables Catholic Charities to be at nearly 75 percent of its $2.5 million goal to purchase and operate a new, larger food bank near Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field.
‘Dangerous’ suspect in police custody
A man sought by the Vermillion County Sheriff's Department has been nabbed by police in Indianapolis.
eBus brings financial empowerment to town
A 40-foot long mobile classroom is scheduled to roll into Terre Haute today, carrying what its sponsors call “financial empowerment.”
Maker of history
A humble man with a heart for helping others is an apt description for Terre Haute resident Curtis B. Culver.
Culver died July 2 at age 94, leaving behind a legacy of missionary work and social involvement.
Petitioners push for recycling at fair
A Vigo County environmental activist hopes to convince the Vigo County Fair Board to start recycling, especially during the county fair, and has started an online petition.
Veterans call on commissioners to protect war memorial
Installing a camera on the second floor of the Sullivan County Courthouse may be one solution to curtailing what several veterans are calling a disgrace to a memorial that honors Americans who gave their lives in service to the country.
Schools ethics case: Proposed deal to be reviewed
The State Ethics Commission is set to review a proposed settlement Thursday in the ethics case against former Indiana Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett.
Man airlifted to Indy after early morning crash
A Clay City man sustained non-life-threatening injuries in a head-on collision early Monday morning on Indiana 46 at Riley Road southeast of Terre Haute.
Man agrees to plea on youth sex charges
A Terre Haute man received a suspended sentence in a plea agreement signed Monday as his jury trial was about to commence in Vigo Superior Court 1.
Downtown fire victim ID released
Carbon monoxide poisoning was the cause of death for 61-year-old William Sonnefield, a resident of Deming Center who died in a late Thursday night fire inside his apartment. The Vigo County Coroner’s office released the victim’s name Monday.
Susan Ooley-Viray’s love of tractors started as a Christmas gift about five years ago from her husband, John.
St. George's: Century of faith
From its formation in a sewing circle of European immigrant women, surviving a fire that destroyed its building, to expanding with a new parish hall, St. George’s Episcopal Church has endured to celebrate its 100th anniversary next Sunday.
MIKE LUNSFORD: Wet in Wyoming, wandering turtles and other tales of the road
It is an odd thing, after all the miles I drove a few weeks ago — to the mountains of Wyoming and back again — that today I remember most of all stopping along the road in two places nearly 600 miles apart.
STATE OF THE STATEHOUSE: Financial hardships mount for military families
Days before the July 4th holiday, Holly Petraeus stood on the steps of the imposing Indiana War Memorial, in front of a bank of cameras, and made a plea to military families: Don’t let pride stand in the way of asking for help.
RESTAURANT INSPECTIONS: July 7, 2014
Man in critical condition after July 4 stabbing
A Sullivan County man remained in critical condition Sunday at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis after being stabbed on July 4.
Day at the fair
Though the Vigo County Fair officially opens today, Saturday was a busy day around the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds as open class exhibits were entered and judged and commercial vendors made final adjustments to their stands.
Finding a meth lab
Finding out if a property has been the previous site of a clandestine methamphetamine lab has become easier through a new online database recently rolled out by the Indiana State Police.
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- Historic Ohio Boulevard house inspired by 1948 Cary Grant movie