News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 14, 2013

READERS' FORUM: July 14, 2013

The Tribune-Star

---- — Prompt response to storm debris

The storm the night of June 24 took its toll on the majestic 78-year-old oak in my front yard. A large limb with multiple branches broke off and covered over half my front yard and driveway as well as part of the street. When I saw the massive mess the next morning, I realized the road blockage needed immediate attention.

I called the street department and the response was astonishingly prompt and efficient. In less than 15 minutes someone (sorry, I don’t have a name) came to assess the situation. He told me he would send a crew with a chipper to clear the sidewalk and street. In less than an hour from my call the public hazards were totally removed. Amazing.

Most of us give little thought to the services provided by the city — until there is a personal need. I commend, with trumpet fanfare, the street department for its exemplary performance and extend my sincerest thanks for its service.

Beyond the clearance of debris in the public areas, I had to deal with the residual mess in my driveway and yard. I called Jason Chappell, owner of Chappell Tree Service, who had previously helped me with an assortment of tree issues. Delaying the start of his scheduled job, he came immediately and before he left he took out his chainsaw and personally cleared my driveway. He returned later in the day and continued the next day to totally remove the remaining mass of the fallen limb and branches.

I thank and commend him for his sensitivity to emergency exit and the impeccable condition he restored to my yard — there was not a trace, not even sawdust, of the limb that left its home base.

Put shortly and to the point, this letter gives meager expression to my appreciation of the rapid and professional competency of the street department and Chappell Tree Service. No words adequately convey my heartfelt thanks for their rescuing me in my time of need.

— Gladys Taylor

Terre Haute

Thanks to all who helped Piper’s family

My name is Dana Goodwin and the mother of the 9-year-old girl who passed away on May 15. Her name was Piper Renee Goodwin.

I would just like to give thanks to all of the individuals who were involved with trying to save her life. First and foremost my husband, who helped perform CPR on Piper, my oldest daughter, Ashley, who just took control and called 911 and also for taking me away when the proper authorities had arrived on the scene and let them take over in order for them to do what they are trained to do.

I’m so sorry I was not able to get any names, except for one sheriff deputy, Mr. Joe K., the Honey Creek Fire Department and TransCare Ambulance Service. All three of these agencies worked very hard to get Piper to the hospital as quickly as they possibly could.

At Regional Hospital, I would like to thank all of the emergency room staff that was so helpful to me, even though I was very rude and impatient. You sat with me and held my hand. Even though it may be part of the job to help, by giving people comfort in times as this, I believe that you went above and beyond that and for this I thank you. And to the emergency room doctor who had to call of time of death, I’m so sorry that my daughter’s condition had placed that burden on you, so thank you.

To the Vigo County Sheriff deputies standing guard in the emergency room, thank you. To the Child Protective Service workers who were so gentle and polite, thank you. Then also to the chaplain who gave Piper her last rites, God bless you. To the 911 operator, I’m so sorry I was so rude and that I was impatient, but I was scared and wanted someone there quickly to bring my daughter back to life.

To Steve Weatherford, a native of Terre Haute, who was in town for his annual race “Rush The Punter” in order to help raise money for the local United Way. My two daughters, Piper and Lee, both were scheduled to run in this race. Lee ran in Piper’s memory, and Mr. Weatherford wore Piper’s bib number (454) in her honor. My family was truly honored when we found out that you were doing this for Piper, so Steve, may your feet be as swift and the wind always be from the right direction.

I will start with Vigo County School Corp. and Dixie Bee Elementary. I’m so opposed to funerals, and no child should ever have to be laid out in a funeral home. To Danny Tanoos and Mrs. Cassell, thank you for allowing the comforting and safe environment of the school she attended, Dixie Bee, for the funeral service. It was very comforting to see the concern and precious care that was provided, and by this it made it easier for Piper’s friends and classmates to say goodbye. It allowed not only children that she knew but also adults to face what was a frightening event in the safe and caring environment of her school.

To the staff of Dixie Bee, thank you for everything, specifically Mrs. Hendrix, you are such a wonderful teacher, role model and friend. To the First Southern Baptist Church on South Seventh Street and Voorhees, your example of God’s loving mercy is a lesson that all Christians can learn from.

To Diane Henry, Jo Stringfello and Deb Smitley, Piper was not even a student at your school, but you stepped up. To St. Benedict Church, thank you so much for the care and prayers and for dedicating the tree for Piper and for the stone. It is so beautiful and I do spend time there talking to Piper.

To my husband’s place of employment, the Federal Correctional Complex Union Local No. 720 and the Employees Club, for the fundraiser that had been held. To the Correctional Peace Officers Foundation in Sacramento, Calif., and to all of our family, friends and neighbors, that I had never even met before, thank you.

To the staff at Bev’s Restaurant, there is nothing that I could do or say could ever tell you how much your gifts were loved and appreciated and welcomed. And all of the neighborhood kids who came to check on me and helped me with my garden and gave Mommy Flowers. To Mr. Jeff Lee for his sermon that was so beautiful and moving. And to all of the people that I missed, you are still in my heart.

Who would have thought that a 9-year-old girl could have brought so many people together. All of you will and shall always remain in our hearts, blessings and our prayers.

— From the Goodwin Family

Terre Haute

Simple matter of civil rights

On June 29, 1969, the Stonewall Riots began, setting off the beginning of the gay rights movement. On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court overturned DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and Prop 8, thus allowing same-sex marriages to resume in California and forcing the federal government to recognize these unions in the states in which they are legal.

Those two acts furthered the gay rights movement as nothing else has done to date. This is also the day I was asked, in an interview with WTHI, “Are you an activist?” I hadn’t been asked that before. I thought about it and answered “Yes.” If that means standing up for what I “actively” believe in, then yes, I am an activist. I am also an American, a brother, uncle, friend, small business owner, hairstylist, community leader, mentor, boyfriend, widower, taxpayer, voter and, oh yeah, I’m a homosexual.

LGBT persons are approximately 10 percent of the total population. Only 10 percent. And all we want is our civil rights to be the same as 90 percent of Americans who are entitled to get married. There are 1,100 benefits to being married, civil rights like filing joint married tax returns, the ability to make end-of-life decisions, Social Security benefits, survivor benefits, etc. The list goes on. So many want to deny those rights to us because they feel we, the LGBT community, will deteriorate the “traditional” institution of marriage.

How is this possible when we are fighting so hard for that simple right? And honestly, how can 10 percent of the population do any more damage than the 90 percent already has? I have been to, and involved in, so many happy nuptials that I’ve lost count. But I do know that more than 50 percent of them have gotten divorced. I’ve even done wedding hair for the second wedding for a few clients/friends.

I remember growing up hearing the words “divorcee” and “shacking up” referred to all types of people who fell into those categories. These were words associated with marriage in the ’70s. Soon, I remember hearing people suggesting to their own children to live together to see if the relationship is going to work. That way, if it doesn’t, you don’t have the messy financial burden of divorce. And the rate of divorce is well over 55 percent for all first marriages these days. That’s over 55 percent of weddings between the 90 percent of people legally allowed to wed in all 50 states.

The argument that same-sex couples cannot give birth, raise, adopt, foster, care for and love children is completely without merit. We are humans capable of love and reproduction just like everyone else. In certain cases, there is so much thought and planning that goes on, in order to have children, the LGBT parents prove to be the same as heterosexual parents. Perhaps even more so. Children are born out of wedlock every day and we no longer call them “bastards” or look poorly upon the unwed mothers as much as we once did. Why? Because this has become the norm, like it or not.

Like it or not, one day we will all look at same-sex marriages as normal as interracial, interfaith heterosexual marriages. They will be the norm. The tide is turning. People’s attitudes are becoming more accepting. They realize that we don’t want anything more than what others have taken for granted most of their lives. The ability to use the words “wife, husband or spouse.” Ask yourself this question, “What would you call your wife or husband if those words were not allowed? Life partner, domestic partner, significant other?” Those words are fine but they do not carry the strength of conviction like “husband, wife and spouse.” Those words are known by everyone and they solidify your relationship to the outside world.

I’m pleased to live during this time and hope the wonderful Hoosiers of Indiana will one day allow the right to marry the person of your choice for whatever reasons you see fit. If we want to be on the correct side of history and show the rest of America that we are accepting of others, then we must let our voices be heard to the governor and all political persons in charge of our constitution.  Then we will finally be able to honestly mean it when we say the final words of the Pledge of Allegiance, “With liberty and justice for all.”

— Neil Ward

Terre Haute

More info needed on pool project

There have been several letters questioning the merits of spending $8 million to $9 million to build a new Vigo County School Corp. central swimming facility. The July 5, 2013, letter, “A misuse of taxpayer money” by Leah Myers, presents the best reason to oppose this questionable use of taxpayer’s money.

As Ms. Myers noted, we currently spend $10,800 per student on education and are now proposing to spend $17,000 per swimmer. Approximately 368 student-swimmers will use this pool. It will not be open to the public or used for student swimming lessons.

The estimated $8 million to $9 million to construct this facility does not include operating expenses. We have no information regarding what it will cost to maintain this facility. Likewise, will the school corporation transport the swimmers to and from the facility or will parents be responsible for this? The operation and maintenance of a swimming facility is expensive. Just ask the YWCA and Indiana State University.

Recently, Superintendent Tanoos was willing to lay off staff and reduce worker hours because of pending Affordable Health Care Act requirements. Likewise, there have been no staff pay raises for the last two years, and the busing of students to and from events was going to be suspended. Tanoos’ callous remarks show a blatant disregard for the welfare of the teachers and support staff who make the Vigo County School Corp. the excellent organization that it is. Acting like a bully accomplishes nothing.

I encourage the Vigo County School Board to postpone any vote on this proposal until they receive more information beyond the estimated $8 million to $9 million to build the facility. Where will it be located? How much will it cost to operate? How will the swimmers be transported to and from it? Is this the best way to spend tax dollars during these times of austerity and dwindling tax revenue? The board provides the checks and balances needed to control the administrators.

I am counting on the board to take its time in deciding to move forward on this proposal. We have only so much money in our checkbook, and it has to be obligated in a responsible manner.

— Gary S. Izo

Terre Haute

Larry’s return is good news

Thank you, Larry Bird, for sharing your exquisite talent and work ethic with the public for over 30 years.

Lives have been made richer, and I couldn’t be happier at the news that you are back with the Pacers. Can’t wait for the start of the new season.

— Lynn Eberwein

Terre Haute

New public art project achieves goal

On behalf of Art Spaces, I wish to congratulate the artists that created Watermark Landing for Fairbanks Park. This was a completely independent project, which they took on as a way to participate in 2013 Year of the River.

It was an enormous undertaking. To start with it is quite an organizational task for so many artists, working with different materials on different subject matters in completely different styles, to unify their vision into one piece of art. Collaborating on creative projects is not easy for two people, let alone 16.

As if that wasn’t enough, they then faced the challenge of raising all of the funds necessary to achieve their vision. To do a project like this properly, in a way that will allow it to last well into the future, requires a fair amount of money and various kinds of expertise. Garmong Construction Services, their business partner, as well as the many sponsors that provided supplies, equipment and labor, are to be commended for their generosity. All of the artists and sponsors are named at the site.  

This wonderful piece of public art opens up the river in a new way and contributes to the goals of 2013 Year of the River. It is drawing people to the river, whether to enjoy the imagery in the tiles, or to sit on one of the benches and look at the Wabash. It seems to have equal attraction for all age ranges. That, too, is a hard thing to achieve.

This was a generous act on the part of these artists, who did the work without any compensation. Most professional artists rely, at least in part, on income from their work. So this is an outstanding gift. As Mayor Bennett mentioned at the recent dedication, it is truly an honor to have Watermark Landing in Fairbanks Park where it is available to our whole community.

I also want to mention that two other artists have been hard at work on a 2013 Year of the River mural on a downtown building. Amy MacLennan and Michael Neary, with deep ties to Terre Haute, came back for this special project. Murals also present their own set of challenges and are not a casual undertaking. Mike and Amy carefully planned it to include many aspects of the river while also considering composition, scale, longevity and much more.

The law firm of Cox, Zwerner, Gambill & Sullivan was terrific to provide such a visible “canvas” for these artists on their west-facing wall.

It is the newest addition to the ISU Gilbert Wilson Memorial Mural Project, an ongoing initiative of ISU’s Department of Art with support from ISU’s Energize Downtown. Congratulations to everyone involved and especially to the artists for this outstanding accomplishment and addition to our downtown.

A large number of people and organizations are working to make 2013 Year of the River an eventful and positive collaboration. There are too many to mention all of them here, but anyone can visit to learn more about upcoming events, presenters and resources.

There has been much enthusiasm and participation and the two public art projects described above are good examples of how the Wabash Valley may benefit from 2013 Year of the River for years to come. Thanks, artists, for your amazing work and generosity.

— Mary Kramer

Executive Director

Art Spaces Inc.

Terre Haute