Looking At Telethon In Rearview Mirror

By: Tim Timmons

Who knew 12 hours was such a long time?

The Paper’s first-ever telethon came and went last week. Here we are, days later and I’m still tired. How did Jerry Lewis do 24 hours? Emcee extraordinaire Mike Haynes pointed out that at the end of those wonderful Labor Day telethons a tired and disheveled Lewis would wear his tie as a bandana and do all sorts of silly things. All these years I thought he was just trying to get a laugh. Now I realize he was delirious.

OK, I exaggerate.


But we surely can’t put the telethon to bed without some huge thank yous. Those start with the great folks, led by the talented Judith Kleine, at Masonic Cornerstone Event Center. What a great and historic facility! And if you did not hear her interview with the aforementioned Mr. Haynes, you missed her mentioning some potential ghost stories! Judi, we need to talk! The History-Mystery Tour loves a great ghost story!

In all seriousness, if you are looking for a venue, what better place than this! Not only is it in beautiful downtown Crawfordsville, but it is almost a perfect representation of our fair city. It has both charm and gravitas – with ornate and grand rooms as well as the history that comes from a building of that age! Check them out online or on Facebook.

Next we have to thank our main sponsor, County Commissioner John Frey. If there is a local politician who spends more time working for this community, I don’t know who it is. Some people might disagree with his politics or whatever, but no one can question his heart. John loves this community – a place where he grew up and chose to call his forever home. And I’ll tell you something else about him, he does more things behind the scenes (that he never tells anyone about) than anyone I know. I’m not talking about the politics of it, but the personal, human things. He’s a good man.

And then came our guests, community leaders, personalities and entertainers who all graciously agreed to devote personal time to this wild and crazy idea. I certainly don’t want to play favorites, so let’s just go in chronological order.

Duke Energy’s Zagny Dupin brought a couple of people from the front lines to talk about the recent storms that tore through Indiana and caused so much damage. Most of us deal with storms and then get right back to daily life. The line crews and hard workers at Duke (and all the other utility companies) have dealt with this storm and its aftermath for weeks. And it started during the storm. Think about this – want to work on a line that could kill you 10 times over if you just touched it? In perfect conditions? No? Try throwing in wind, rain and lightning. That’s called a Tuesday for these folks. Thanks for the informative presentation, Zagny!

The aforementioned Mrs. Kleine came in after that, followed by the president of the League of Women Voters, Helen Hudson. Are there more talented women in our community? Maybe, but maybe not. Helen is another person who grew up here and chose to stay. She has taught at Wabash, Crawfordsville High School (her alma mater) and has more honors (including a Golden Hoosier Award from the state) than you can shake a stick at.

After Helen came Mr. Frey to talk about what’s going on in the county. Local United Way board member Kayla Bretney told us about the great things going on with the agency. The talented Kayla was filling in for director Gina Haile who couldn’t make it. In addition to serving on the local board, Kayla is also a member of the United Way of Greater Lafayette Board of Directors. United Way is lucky to have her!

The Chamber’s Stacy Sommer, the executive director of the Crawfordsville Chamber came in next. Listen, I am an old Chamber guy. I’ve served on more Chamber boards and committees than I care to remember, and never, not once, have I seen a director who does a better job of growing membership and benefits than Stacy. After listening to what all the Chamber does and has coming up, heck, I was tired.

The only four-term mayor in Crawfordsville history (well, he will be) was up next. Todd Barton has had a stellar run as your mayor. Just look at the Commerce Park. What used to be called Zumer’s Folly is now experiencing growing pains. Think about that for a second. Former mayor John Zumer’s 2005 announcement of a new industrial park on the city’s north end was met with crickets. The site sat empty for a long time. Enter Todd Barton. Commerce Park is full now and the city is trying to figure out how to accommodate a growing entity. Barton has made a name not just for himself, but for the entire community.

Karen Zach, a longtime friend and so-very-talented writer and author was next. And while the plan was for Haynes to interview her about her weekly column in your favorite Montgomery County daily and her monthly magazine that’s also included in said newspaper, Haynes spent most of the time trying to pry from her the recipe for the biscuits and gravy that used to be served at Zach’s restaurant (but Karen told him that the owner and her father-in-law took the secret to his grave). I’ll tell you this though, Mike and Karen had a fun talk and if you want to see it, or any of the telethon, it’s still available on our website, or on YouTube.

After that, we got to the talent portion of the show. The uber-talented artist John Oilar and his lovely wife were there from morning to afternoon to paint visitors. We appreciate them very much. Gospel singer Larry Krout came next and, despite a sore throat, did a great job singing songs of praise. And then Steve Trent came along and wrapped up the entire show. What a great way to go out! I’ve known Steve since his eighth-grade year at Southmont and he is as talented a singer as he was a basketball player – and he was a pretty doggone good basketball player!

Steve performs a lot now, both on his own and with his popular band Smalltown. If you want great music for an event, go to

That wrapped up the telethon, but there are a few more thanks to get to.

Rick Mayotte works for us at the little paper that could. He is a paginator, which means he’s the guy who designed the page you are reading right now. He designs almost all the pages both here and for our daily in Noblesville. Rick said that he didn’t know how to do everything tech-related for the telethon, but that he would learn. And learn he did, a good bit of it on the fly, but we could not have done this without him!

Ditto for other staff members who helped! Judi Wooton, Jacob Hester (and his helper Bella) and Melissa Bernhardt. All played a bigger role than they know and are so appreciated!

Finally, there’s Mr. Haynes. Mike is a Hall of Fame sportscaster. He worked in the big leagues for 23 years, won Emmy’s, had his own TV show and more. But that big, ginormous career all started right here in Crawfordsville. As did our friendship. We were two young sports guys with big dreams and little wallets. Our careers took us to a lot of places and we somehow kept the friendship alive over a lot of miles and years. I hope all of you have a friend like Mike. He’s one of the very, very few I look at as my brother. How big is that? Well, when I called him and asked if he would leave his home in

Denver to emcee this event, he only asked one question – when? The fact that it was on his birthday (by design), did not deter him in the least. That’s friendship, loyalty and a dozen other things so lacking in our world today. Thank you, Mikey!

We’ve already been asked if there will be another telethon next year? I don’t have the answer to that one just yet. I suspect it might be like The Challenge and the History-Mystery Tour and our broadcast news and televised debates and all the other crazy things you have come to expect from the only locally owned media in Montgomery County. We’ll continue doing things as often as the community likes and supports.

To be sure, we are a for-profit business. Always have been, and we make no apologies for that. We have created jobs while our competition has cut them. We have invested more in this community while the other guys have spent less. We are a business, but one that would never survive without your support. And for the support you have given, we are eternally grateful.

-Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Wednesdays in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be contacted at [email protected].