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.
MARK BENNETT: First BaconFest sure to cure your salty fried meat cravings
Bacon taught me a life lesson.
I wrapped strips of it around chicken livers and secured the cold, gooey bundles with toothpicks to earn money.
New rules may keep moped riders on road
Rep. Dave Wolkins could oppose moped regulations for only so long, as more bikes zipped along the roads and were involved in an increasing number of accidents.
Nearly half of Indiana students get meal aid
Nearly 50 percent of Indiana public school students receive free or reduced-cost meals through the federal school-lunch program.
Hearing date set for Dugger charter school
The Indiana Charter School Board is scheduled to conduct a public hearing on April 8 related to a proposed charter school for the Dugger-Union Community School Corp.
Sullivan County ambulance overturns on Interstate 70
Two Sullivan County emergency medical technicians were treated and released from Terre Haute Regional Hospital after their ambulance rolled over in the median of Interstate 70, about 1 mile east of the Indiana 46 exit on Wednesday afternoon.
New trustee appointed to Indiana State board
Kathleen G. Cabello, president and co-founder of Cabello Associates Inc., has been appointed by Gov. Mike Pence to serve on the Indiana State University Board of Trustees.
Car from home invasion recovered
A stolen vehicle believed to have been used by suspects in a March 4 home invasion has been recovered.
Sheriff: Investigation affecting department’s current police work
The Putnam County Sheriff’s Department is putting the best possible face on a string of allegations lodged against one of its deputies.
Greencastle Council seat will remain vacant for now
The Greencastle City Council is still waiting to learn the appropriate next step in dealing with one of its members who is facing federal allegations of civil rights violations while in his role as a Putnam County deputy.
Former pitcher Tommy John now saving lives
Terre Haute native Tommy John is well known for his illustrious major league baseball career, which spanned 26 years and included 288 victories.
Downtown housing project on schedule
Demolition of buildings fronting Wabash Avenue from Sixth Street west to Fifth Street is on schedule to be completed by the end of this month, with construction of a new five-story building to house Indiana State University students and retail shops starting in April, said Nicole King, marketing coordinator for Thompson Thrift.
Where no one follows the law
Loughmiller’s Pub across Washington Street from the Statehouse is a favorite hangout for legislators and lobbyists who like the tavern’s menu of gourmet burgers and craft beers. State police are regular lunch customers, as are state officials who regulate the sale of alcohol.
Terre Haute man facing felony arson charges
A Terre Haute man faces a charge of class-B felony arson in connection with an August garage fire.
Stolen gun, drugs found in search after traffic stop
A traffic stop Monday night on Third Street led to the arrest of a Terre Haute man on drug-related charges and recovery of a stolen handgun that had belonged to a Vigo County Sheriff’s Department reserve deputy.
Vigo election board to give presentation at NAACP meeting
A presentation by the Vigo County Election Board will be the focus for the March 17 meeting of the Greater Terre Haute Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Merom Water being acquired by Indiana American Water
Merom Water, a municipal water utility with approximately 125 customers, has been acquired by Indiana American Water, the company announced on Tuesday.
Vigo County Council approves software updates
A software upgrade that aids Vigo County emergency dispatch officers could be adapted to allow citizens to send in photographs of accidents.
ISTEP+ testing begins today in Indiana
The student body of Woodrow Wilson Middle School issued a collective battle cry on Monday as it began a week of standardized testing.
Red Cross kicks off fundraising campaign
Disaster can hit at any time, whether from a tornado or fire that leaves a family homeless.
Man arrested on multiple burglary charges
A Montezuma man has been arrested in connection with residential burglaries in Parke and Vigo counties and on suspicion of illegal sale of firearms.
$1.4 million revamp of Third Street in works
Plans to spruce up Third Street through downtown are taking shape.
New principal picked for Hoosier Prairie
Hoosier Prairie Elementary has a new principal, Jennifer Russell, effective today.
Possible bookkeeping 'abnormalities' under scrutiny at TH airport
State authorities are investigating possible “bookkeeping abnormalities” at the Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field.
UPDATE: Putnam deputy indicted
A Putnam County Sheriff’s deputy who also serves as a Greencastle city councilman has been indicted by a federal grand jury on allegations of deprivation of civil rights in his police duties, and he has been placed on administrative leave as a deputy.
Police: Meth organization dismantled in Vigo County
Five people face criminal charges after police dismantled an alleged methamphetamine organization in Vigo County, according to an Indiana State Police news release.
Canvasing families: Mothers confront life with diabetic children
Four Wabash Valley mothers who sat around a circular table Thursday night couldn’t hold back tears as they talked about their children’s battles with a lifelong disease and their hopes for helping other affected families.
MAX JONES: Newspapers can be fun, too; check out Readers’ Choice
Smart and savvy newspaper readers (that’s all of you, of course) know full well that their daily consumption of news and information isn’t an exclusively high-brow pursuit.
Changed wording to SJR-9 delays debate on right to hunt, fish
A much-debated ban on same-sex marriage wasn’t the only proposed constitutional amendment to get knocked off of this November’s ballot. Gone, too, is the less contentious proposal to protect Hoosiers’ right to hunt and fish.
You’re home now: A veteran’s Midwest move that almost wasn’t
To say that Michael Curry was stressed is an understatement.
A service member who has been in the U.S. Army for more than 21 years, he had just arrived in Vigo County with his family — wife, four teen-age children, mother-in-law and two dogs — when he learned the home loan he had obtained in Texas was denied.
Valley lawmakers assess legislative session’s trials, tribulations
As state legislators head into the final week of the state legislative session, five of them from the Wabash Valley met with citizens Saturday at the Vigo County Public Library in downtown Terre Haute and engaged in conversation about the “ups and downs” of the recent session.
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