News From Terre Haute, Indiana

November 25, 2012

READERS’ FORUM: Nov. 25, 2012


---- — Changes needed

in zoning process

The recent Cobblestone Crossings debacle has made it abundantly clear, the zoning procedure in Vigo County is nothing short of abhorrent. I would suggest every person associated with the process, from legal counsel to the commissioners, read and comprehend the Indiana Citizens Planners Guide.

The IPG points out that the Plan Commission is empowered to delegate some authority to an executive committee and to appoint citizens advisory committees. I charge the AP to reach out and restructure their body to accommodate these modifications in an effort to ensure the process is untainted. These committees can expedite business and they can provide a perspective from a broader community.

The makeup of the commission is specific in the Indiana Codes 36-7-4-207, 8 and 9. The intent of the code is to guarantee the decisions of AP remain apolitical. Counsel for the director of Area Planning is Mr. Joe Etling, and while his dedication and allegiance to his party preference is commendable, it cast a dark shadow on the neutral position recommended by the IPG and I would urge a neutral counsel replace him.

The resignations of two AP members has been tendered and a third will be replaced as a result of the recent election. I can think of no better way to cast a ray of light on the makeup of this committee, and the process, than to appoint Mr. Mike Poinsett, POND member and president, to replace one of the two retiring members.

It is my understanding that AP is drafting new notification requirements for rezoning to include certified mail notification to surrounding property owners, which I applaud. This will give them a voice in the molding of their community, as well it should. Now, we must all move forward. I offer this as an olive branch to the Cobblestone developers in hopes that all involved will learn from this experience and the changes to come will allow for a more prosperous and beautiful Vigo County.

I have been directly involved with the zoning issues for this project for the past seven years, and note, had everyone involved used a bit less starch in their underwear, this might have been concluded much sooner. As the English proverb says “He that converses not, knows nothing.”

— Rick Wheeler

Terre Haute

Inspiring season

for Sycamores

It would have been sad to see the ISU football season end with or without a postseason. It means we need to wait nine months to watch the transformation continue.

The football Sycamores have come a long, long way by any measure. A lot of hard work, injuries, sweat and teamwork have gone into this journey. Seeing the success of this season is only seeing the tip of the iceberg. Each year, Trent Miles and his staff have led a dedicated team to a new level. The folks of Terre Haute can be as proud as any hometown in America.

In the preseason, ISU went to Bloomington, played the Hoosiers to the wire and showed us what was possible. But for a few bad breaks and missed opportunities, the Sycamores would have won. They refused to let the intimidation of an away game interfere with their promise to play their very best. They kept going. Throughout the season, the Sycamore machine fought its way upward in the polls. They won tough games.

One of those games was the sweet victory against No. 1 North Dakota State in front of a sold-out Fargodome. Witnessing this win showed the deep dedication of both the Sycamore team and the Sycamore fans. It was a close game all the way. Both teams demonstrated excellence and humility. Both teams made mistakes. Both teams executed some amazing plays.

Astonishingly, the ISU defensive squad scored 14 points to even the score and the offensive squad chipped in three more points to provide the margin of victory. Then they held the line. The entire organization gave 110 percent from start to finish, without exception. This included the admirable handful of ISU fans that went the distance both literally and figuratively. These fans — who had traveled 800 miles to be at Fargo — were on their feet cheering wildly the whole time. A level of noise normally reserved for third downs and fourth quarters was heard in all four downs and all four quarters. We wanted the team to know we were pulling for them all the way. And they certainly gave us something to cheer about.

The final play of the game was an astounding rollercoaster ride as the Bison lateraled repeatedly, each time slipping away into the backfield to regroup and look for an opening. The fans screamed, squealed and gasped for what seemed like an eternity. When the ISU defense finally put an end to it, the entire team poured onto the field to celebrate the victorious moment. As the Sycamores proudly sang their victory song to us, we knew we were witnessing a team spirit larger than life.

Even the heartbreaking loss to Illinois State on Senior Day was inspiring. What we witnessed on the field sets an example for all of us, and will serve the seniors well for a lifetime. It was dreamlike to see the Sycamores score 10 points in the final 31 seconds.

Stick around. Sycamores never give up.

— Carl Roberts

Oconomowoc, Wis

How did street

problem occur?

A few months ago I wrote a letter to the editor highlighting the illogical width of Maple Avenue from Third Street to North Seventh Street. That albatross remains, but coincidentally a new project to reconstruct North Sixth Street adjacent to Oubache School was begun the next day with new storm sewers, curbs and sidewalks.

Even though this project was not completed in time for the first day of school, temporary accommodations were made for vehicular traffic to and from the school. The project is now complete, but a glaring problem remains. In fact, the problem is not simply an inconvenience but specifically a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The west end of Linden Street meets North Sixth Street as a “T” intersection. Both the north and south corners there are newly reconstructed, each with “curb cuts.” The “curb cuts” across Linden Street appear to be compliant with ADA requirements. The other two “curb drops” lead across North Sixth Street to the other side where there is a newly constructed 6-inch curb — no “curb cut” exists for access to the sidewalk there. Instead, the west sidewalk lies about two feet away with a swatch of grass in between.

The problem, or actual violation, is even highlighted by a painted crosswalk across North Sixth Street from the north corner to the other side, where it is met by a solid curb.

Two questions arise from this gaffe — were the construction documents wrong or did the contractor not follow the drawings? Area residents, parents and taxpayers would like to know.

— Douglas Elia

Terre Haute

Gregg polled well

in governor race

I have known John Gregg for almost 25 years, and worked with him in the legislature during his years of service in that body as a member, as minority leader and finally as speaker of the House. While the final results of John’s run for governor were not what he or many others had hoped for, an analysis of the race shows that John strongly over-performed expectations and nearly pulled off Indiana’s political upset of the century. John’s performance demonstrates that he remains a strong candidate for statewide office.

John Gregg overcame several major disadvantages throughout the campaign. Despite these disadvantages, he still significantly over-performed on the ballot and made the race for governor the closest such race in 50 years. He started the race with a name ID in single digits and had to overcome a significant fundraising gap (I believe that final tally was $7 million spent on John’s campaign versus $18 million for Mike Pence, plus who knows how much in spending by “independent” groups).

Congressman Pence spent the last 12 years in Washington, D.C., and utilized the DC. cash machine to outraise and outspend John Gregg by more than 2:1. Despite this severe financial disadvantage, John built a coalition of Democrats, Independents and Republicans throughout the state and lost by fewer than 80,000 votes out of more than 2.4 million cast.

John Gregg’s performance is even more impressive when the statewide performance of other Indiana Democrats is examined. President Obama was not competitive in Indiana. Despite Richard Mourdock's extreme views and incendiary comments about rape, Sen.-elect Donnelly only received 50 percent of Indiana’s vote. Races down the ballot performed worse, as Democrats now control only 31 seats in Indiana's House of Representatives. Despite all of this, John over-performed public polling and nearly pulled off a surprising upset.

Because of his performance on Election Day, John Gregg is strongly positioned for a future statewide run. John has significantly expanded his name ID and his overall impression among voters is very positive. As Democrats look for a candidate in 2016, they would be very well served to consider an experienced public servant, former university president and successful attorney and farmer, John Gregg.

— Jerry Williams


TH students raise

$3,500 for project

The first week of October I set out to teach my students about a project,’s Wounded Warrior Gift Backpacks, I wanted them to be involved in. These are backpacks stuffed with UnderArmour products to be used by soldiers during rehabilitation from catastrophic battle injuries.

Individuals purchase the backpacks online but never see them; instead, they are actually purchasing the ability of UnderArmour to place the backpack with the wounded warrior in the hospital after his/her surgery as they start rehabilitation. The backpacks have over $300 of items included but are sold at a purchase price of $100. This is UnderArmour’s way of giving to the soldiers. I wanted to see how many students would want to help purchase these gifts.

I had 15 students agree to secure sponsorship for backpacks. This agreement also involved the students participating in a 1-hour walk through the hills of Deming Park, carrying their own school backpacks. These fifteen 12- and 13-year-old students raised over $3,500, which allowed for 35 backpacks to be given to the soldiers. These are Vigo County School Corp. students working to purchase something they will not see, to be given to someone they do not know, in honor of the service these wounded soldiers have provided toward the rights and freedoms granted to the students and their families.

The students were able to secure many generous donations by educating others about this project. There were also several people who demonstrated their generosity by sending checks to Woodrow Wilson Middle School for the project in honor of a family member who was a prisoner of war or killed in combat. One such giving soul brought $300 in cash to the school and never even left her name, just because she thought this was such a worthy cause. Thank you to her and to all who gave. You are wonderful and generous people.

Although I was trying to teach my students a lesson, I had the great privilege to learn. I learned that the people of Vigo County are a loving and generous community. I learned that teaching in the VCSC is about a lot more than just standardized test scores. And, most encouraging, I learned that passionate students can accomplish great things. I am so grateful that when I set out to teach something to others, I ended up learning so much from them.

Again, I want to say thank you to all the students who participated and to all those who donated. The time, dedication and generosity you have shown made this endeavor so much more of a success than I imagined. I feel humbled to have been a part of such a worthwhile project.

But most importantly, and with the greatest reverence and deepest admiration, I want to say thank you to all who have served for our country. The sacrifices you have made and the bravery you have shown are what make the freedom to teach and learn possible. Thank you.

— Jeff Lough


geography teacher

Woodrow Wilson

Middle School

Ideas to correct

spending problem

Today I received a weekly news letter from the military telling all of us about educational, jobs, and health benefits available to help get lives on track. It also has features on weapons and videos of same. It is a very informative in content.

The No. 1 headline was “The CBO takes aim at military pay and retirement benefits.” The Congressional Budget Office wants to reduce the pay, and limit the Tri Care insurance services big time.

Both parties say they hate the deficit, but together they made it. I hate to hear congressmen talk about “entitlements” like Social Security and Medicare like they were given, not earned, and they voted themselves out of that to get a better entitlement program that includes free health care on us taxpayers. When Social Security was formed, the money paid in would have lasted the wage earner until age 90, with a 1 percent interest per year paid on it. When the congressmen saw how much was in that super fund, they raided it to spend on other things, saying SSI would just cash in an “IOU” at the Treasury and get the money it needed. They forgot the interest part of the plan.

I propose two things that I think they could cut that would take a big chunk out of the deficit spending. I know that there are many more that I and other readers could list.

• Quit spending money on space explorations. What does Mars or the moon have that we need? Men on Mars? How would we feed him, supply oxygen to get there and possibly back? Yes, we got the GPS for our cars and many other things from the space and military programs. We also gave our enemies a way to guide a missile right to our door.

• I want to say up front I am not against Hispanic people. I have a daughter-in law who is of Hispanic descent. I say cut out the freebies we give those here illegally. I hear this is close to $1 trillion a year. So it wouldn’t be a surprise, start slowly and phase it out in three years. I say this because a co-worker of mine at Ivy Hill came from Mexico and joined the Marines, and went to Vietnam. There he was exposed to agent orange and passed about four years ago. He became a citizen the right way, not sneaking across the border. Give those already here a chance and time to do it right. I know this will be hard for the party that gave them breaks just before the election to buy votes, but I think it should be done.

Reading an article in the paper several days ago gave a real insight on the many that will be against certain cuts because it diverts profits from their interests. That means big campaign contributions from the lobbyists to whom? Why, to our congressmen for their vote. I just hope they do what is best for the Indiana people who put them in office and not their personal wealth. What’s your guess on this?

— David Marter

Terre Haute

Will Mitt now

be silenced?

Holy cowpies! He’s done it again! Mitt has doubled down on his former slam against the 47 percent moochers supposedly dependent on the government’s largesse. This time he’s saying he lost the election because Obama bought the votes of women, minorities and young people with his “gifts.” Sounds like virtual bribery to me.

Fast and furious, Repubs as well as Dems piled on the losing candidate, slamming him for slamming the voters. Gov. Bobby Jindal said if you don’t like the voters, how can they like you? You don’t win elections by “insulting the voters.”

It’s not good news for Mitt  a second foot in his mouth.

The good news — it  just might shut him up.

— Saul Rosenthal

Terre Haute