Seeking solutions, not just discussion

This is in response to Terre Haute Communications Director Pete Ciancone’s recent letter to Readers’ Forum.

Pete: A few of the topics you mentioned were completely accurate, but being such a busy man you have undoubtedly forgotten all the issues we discussed. For instance, we talked about numerous things other areas of the country have done to overcome the stray animal problem. You may also recall that we discussed mandatory spay and neutering and you said, “I believe that is unconstitutional.” I later sent you a copy of the 10th Amendment to illustrate how other areas used it to their advantage.

You said “for the record we met for an hour.” This is true but again you have forgotten that you wanted to set up another meeting. In fact, that’s what you told Austin Arceo in a Tribune-Star interview dated Nov. 29. I never heard from you again until Dec. 2 when I left you a message on your cell informing you of an interview with Channel 10 and, lo and behold, within five minutes you called back to say that my suggestions presented were being reviewed.

In this same conversation, I informed you that Judy Elsey and her group with donations and grants were providing free spay and neutering services to low-income families. Instead of discussing this, you changed the subject and started talking about the inland port meeting that you and the mayor had attended (yeah, that’s going to happen, CSX won’t even repair the tracks let alone spend untold millions to move them outside the city.)

Be upfront, Pete. You were sandbagging me and hoped I would give up and go away. You made mention of the contract recently signed with the Humane Shelter, but you failed to mention that the administration didn’t have a contract in January and February when stray animals were freezing on our streets. Could it be that the contract was signed now because of the upcoming May primary?

You say the administration is concerned with animal control issues yet the same amount of $85,000 was allocated in 2007 as in 2006. This amount is only .0189 percent of the city budget. As Channel 2 reported on Feb. 22, Bloomington (a city Mayor Burke likes to compare us to) allocates over a million dollars a year to solve the animal control problem.

This is why citizens of Terre Haute concerned about animal control, the trash problem and the slumlords should elect Jim Horrall as our next mayor. He has proven leadership ability and demonstrates great commitment and courage after an anonymous call to the state forced him to give up his government job in order to run. He has pledged to address the mentioned issues and allocate a quarter of a million dollars on animal control his first year and an additional $100,000 a year until the problem is solved. I’m also happy to report that council members Jim Chalos and Butch Warner and the Humane Shelter’s director, Susan Marr, will soon be traveling to Bloomingtion’s shelter to get input on correcting our situation locally.

Councilman Todd Nation will be addressing solutions to the trash problem at an upcoming council meeting. Council members Norm Loudermilk and Chuck Miles are looking into solving the slumlord problem. With the help of these council incumbents and new candidates Vicki Curts, Travis Behem and Carmen Owens-Black we can make Terre Haute a city to be proud of and then business will be knocking on our doors to locate here.

In closing, I don’t want a war of words with you in the press. I will be focusing my efforts to support the above named candidates and incumbents. Frankly, Pete, after seeing that Horrall was ahead of Burke in the Tribune-Star’s Web poll on March 5, I think you’ll be busy too.

— John McGowan

Terre Haute

Dreaming big, looking ahead

I appreciated Mark Bennett’s commentary titled “Time to Wait” in the Tribune-Star on Sunday, March 4 (Page D1). We live in a wonderful city, and the future is brighter than ever. But I agree with Mark; we have to continue to build on past success, dream big and move forward.

I moved to Terre Haute in 1988 to begin teaching in the civil engineering department at Rose-Hulman. One of my assignments was to teach our senior design class. Our Department decided to start using client-based design projects for the class. Almost immediately, we began to use the City of Terre Haute as one of our many clients to improve our community and supply our students with “real” projects, a win-win strategy.

One of our first clients was Ralph Wagle, the city engineer at the time, and bike trail design was often a part of the municipal projects we performed. Unfortunately, our city officials harshly rejected bike trails as an option for our community citing concerns about maintenance and the increased potential for crime along the trails. Our students were very discouraged, but we continued to do projects for the city. We were thrilled many years later when Mayor Jenkins embraced the trail system, and it is now a reality.

Over the last 20 years, our students have designed transportation improvements, parks, municipal buildings, bridges, and even a natatorium. Two of our favorite clients are Terre Haute’s Pat Martin, transportation planner, and Pat Goodwin, city engineer. Mr. Martin works tirelessly with our students and Rose-Hulman Professor Jim McKinney. Dr. McKinney has guided many of these projects (including one on railroad relocation), and Mr. Martin continues to use the final reports to expand our vision as a community and to leverage the student work into grant requests on behalf of the city.

Three years ago, our students put together a planning report entitled “Take Back the River.” It initiated a riverfront development master plan to maximize Terre Haute’s greatest natural resource, the Wabash River. Another student group followed up that report with another piece of the master plan entitled “Banks of the Wabash Wetlands Preserve.” (Relocation considerations for Dresser were never a part of the scope of this project.) This year, a group of students is working on a signature pedestrian bridge that spans the Wabash River from Fairbanks Park to the planned wetlands preserve.

We are thrilled that Mayor Burke is so supportive of these projects. We recognize that not all of them will be built. But in the meantime, it provides our students with excellent design projects and the City of Terre Haute with hopes and big dreams. Now it is time to move forward and make some of those dreams a reality.

— Dr, Robert J. Houghtalen

Professor and head

of civil engineering

Rose-Hulman Institute

of Technology

Consumers become vocal on smoking

There are two sides to every story. Letter writer Michael Lawson said Bishop’s restaurant in Clark County, Ill., lost some business because of its no-smoking policy. At the same time it has gained business because of the no-smoking policy.

I guess it boils down to what a business owner desires — a pleasant, attractive — to-the-public place of business or a smoke-filled, stinking place of business.

Yes, that is a slightly inflammatory statement. But the number of non-smokers is growing and becoming more vocal about their choice. Non-smokers are becoming frustrated with how unconcerned restaurant management is with their health concerns.

Last Sunday a party of six turned and walked out of a restaurant because the smoke was too much for them to tolerate.

Is it wise for a restaurant to become unattractive to the non-smoker?

— Mike Bumpus

West Union, Ill.

Recommended for you