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Saturday, August 18, 2018

  • Tuesday, August 14, 2018 4:00 AM
    There is a twinkle in her eye.
    As a guy who dabbles in the written word, I’ve been lucky enough to meet a bunch of authors – all the way from ones who would give almost anything to sell a book to those who’ve sold millions.
    One thing many of them share is that twinkle. They are always thinking, always looking at things differently from the rest of us. You and I might see a book on baby names and not give it a second thought. They see that book as a resource for naming characters in stories they haven’t even imagined yet.
    The world, through their eyes, is one possibility after another.
    Talk to Stephanie Cain very long and you’ll see that twinkle.
    The local author and Visitor Services Coordinator at the Gen. Lew Wallace Study & Museum has more than a dozen titles to her credit, including her signature Storms in Amethir series. She recently released the second book in her series set in Indianapolis, Circle City Magic.
    Full disclosure. I’m a fan. A lot of what Stephanie writes isn’t my cup of tea. No, no, it has nothing to do with the writing. She’s got a way with words that makes it hard to understand why she isn’t on a best-seller list somewhere. It’s simply the genre she typically writes – epic fantasy – isn’t my favorite. However, her first Circle City book, as evinced by the name, takes place in my favorite city in the world. And growing up in the 1960s, I was a big fan of the supernatural TV show, Dark Shadows. So when I heard about Stephanie’s Shades of Circle City I bought it. A few hours later, I was hooked. 
    Her characters are believable, the storyline mixes ghosts and werewolves in a way that keeps you interested and her depictions of scenes around Indianapolis are dead on – no pun intended.
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  • Tuesday, August 7, 2018 4:00 AM
    Notes scribbled on the back of a 1992 Bill Clinton whistle-stop tour ticket from Burlington, N.C. . . . 
    * * * 
    AS ANOTHER school year dawns, here’s hoping from this little corner of God’s country that teachers, students, administrators and all school employees have a safe and successful year. It’s been written in this space multiple times on how we have to find an answer to the shootings and killings in our schools and overall society but whatever that answer is, it’s been elusive. 
    Wouldn’t it be great to read about scholarships and honor rolls and exploits from the fields, courts and classroom and not have to read about another senseless act of violence? 
    Here’s hoping!
    * * * 
    ALONG THOSE lines, the Little Paper That Could is once again offering teachers (as well as first responders and active military) a free one-year subscription to our Online Edition. Like we’ve said, we understand this isn’t anything like winning the lottery, but it is a $42 value and it’s what we can do to say thanks to all of those fine, fine folks.
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  • Tuesday, July 31, 2018 4:00 AM
    Where’s Harlow Hickenlooper when you need him?
    Happy birthday to The Paper
    Happy birthday to The Paper
    Happy birthday dear Paper!
    Happy birthday to you!
    Yup, today is indeed the day because on July 31 some 14 years ago the Little Paper That Could was born when documents were filed and the state took the first of many payments!
    So, if you sang along, thanks ever so much! And for the younger members of our party, Harlow, otherwise known as Hal Fryar, passed away just a little more than a year ago at the age of 90. He used to entertain boys and girls (including this one) on Saturday morning television in the 1960s. Among many things, he was known for his wonderful rendition of the birthday song and I know he would’ve been thrilled to sing it this year for us – and all of you.
    I digress (as usual). Today kicks off a month-long celebration that we call Founders Month. The purpose is not to stomp our feet and draw all the attention to us that we can (although if you want to keep your focus solely on us I won’t gripe). The real purpose is to celebrate the whole concept of the entrepreneurial spirit and local business.
    Let me digress again (hey, if you are one of the eight or nine regular readers of this drivel you’re used to it). I was recently given Bill Helling’s wonderful Images of America book on Crawfordsville. (If you haven’t seen it or Karen Zach’s Crawfordsville: Athens of Indiana – both from Arcadia Publishing – get them. They are well worth it!)
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  • Tuesday, July 24, 2018 4:00 AM
    Almost two decades ago I had a few long conversations with some business owners I knew and trusted. The idea of starting a company was bouncing around in my head so I sought advice from those wiser – yeah, yeah, I know, that means I could’ve talked to most of the population on the planet.
    It’ll be the hardest thing you’ve ever done . . . You can’t even imagine . . . It’s tremendously rewarding from both a community pride and satisfaction viewpoint . . . Have you lost your mind . . . 
    Those were some of the responses we can print in a family newspaper.
    The idea went on a shelf for a while, but a few years later it resurfaced. One thing led to another and thanks to a lot of folks, the Little Paper That Could is celebrating its 14th anniversary later this month.
    There are people all over town who won’t admit it now, but have been on record for most of those 14 years saying we weren’t going to last another six months. Actually, they’ve been saying a lot more but, you know, it’s that family newspaper thing again.
    Thing is, all those wise business owners from above turned out to be right. As so many of you know so much better than us rookies, owning and / or running a small business is anything but easy. Don’t get me wrong, no one’s claiming to be a victim here – and no one is griping. The long hours, the heartaches, the valleys, the peaks, the valleys (oh, did I already say that one?), they are what they are. 
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  • Tuesday, July 17, 2018 4:00 AM
    Notes scribbled on the back of a Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In poster . . . 
    * * *
    IF ANYONE has a workable answer on how our country can get off the divisive, destructive and intolerant path we’re on, please share. Since we just celebrated the 4th of July it seems a good time for someone to raise their hand and say, hey, why don’t we just do this . . . 
    * * *
    JUST GOT a mailing about a newspaper industry conference coming up and wanted to share a piece of it:
    “Truth is the antidote for fake news . . . The truth is newspapers have never been under greater threat of attack. Never has your nation needed your leadership more. Never has there been a greater need for a rational voice to pull your community together. Never has your work been more important to the cause of freedom, democracy and independence.”
    You bet I’m biased, but if not for newspapers, who keeps an honest eye on our elected officials?
    * * *
    MY PAL John Hammer paid a visit last week and his message shared in this space generated several phone calls. Seems that a lot of you agree that Congress needs to stop voting party lines and start voting for answers that make sense, regardless of which side of the aisle they come from. Of course, you, Mr. Hammer and I can all see that pretty clearly. Not sure what it takes to convince the hired hands. After all, if the American people electing Donald Trump didn’t tell them a change is clamored for, not sure what will.
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  • Tuesday, July 10, 2018 4:00 AM
    “Hey, Timmons?”
    Two words. Neither one spoken loudly or in anger. The decibel level wasn’t out of the ordinary. Just two words . . . that shattered the peace and quiet of a solitary Saturday morning in the office. Two words that meant I wasn’t alone when I thought I was. Two words that nearly gave me a heart attack.
    Two words that could only mean one thing – John Hammer.
    How this giant of a man manages to sneak into a locked office during off hours has always been a mystery to me. Still, the man with the red neck and blue collar stops by when he has something on his mind. I’ve found his message over the years to be worthwhile.
    So rather than fixate on the heart palpitations, I greeted the man known as Hammer with a smile.
    “Where’s this all going, Timmons?”
    “Sorry, John? Maybe it’s the light-headedness from almost having a heart attack, but you’re going to have to be a little more specific.”
    “All I hear anymore is that we’ve got a giant line right down the middle of this country,” he explained. “You’re either a conservative or a liberal, you either like Trump or hate him, you’re either a Republican or Democrat . . . and while I suppose it’s always been that way to some degree, now if you ain’t on the same side I’m on then the hell with you.”
    “Come on, John. Don’t you think you might be exaggerating a little?”
    “EXAGGERATING?” he exploded. “Have you been paying attention? How many D.C. lawmakers vote straight party all the time? Are you telling me that good ideas are limited to one party or another? If a Democrat has a good idea, why can’t Republicans support it? Tell me that, Timmons.”
    I had nothing.
    “I’ll tell you why, because it’s all about power. It’s all about who has power and who wants to keep power. If the Democrats acknowledge anything good about Trump then they think it weakens their position for the next election. If the Republicans think the Democrats are doing something right, they won’t say it because that might give the Democrats an edge.”
    His gravelly voice was getting louder.
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  • Tuesday, July 3, 2018 4:00 AM
    If anyone has a workable answer on how our country can get off this divisive, destructive and intolerant path we’re on, please share. It seems like the 4th of July would be a good time for someone to raise their hand and say, hey, why don’t we just do this . . . 
    Doesn’t it?
    But if no one does, then tomorrow we can still honor our great nation’s 242nd birthday with cookouts, fireworks and – hopefully – love and respect for our fellow citizens.
    And in that light, I can’t think of a better way to honor America than to honor the greatest generation who did so very much to build this country.
    But before we do, please let me say a very personal thank you to our Notable Nineties! We, all of us, owe you so much and even though we aren’t always great at showing it, here’s hoping you truly do feel that gratitude!
    And if you or someone you know should be included in our Notable Nineties list (it’s open to anyone in or from Montgomery County who has reached the age of 90 or beyond), simply send us the name, age and birthdate if you have it. You can get it to us at 201 E. Jefferson St., Crawfordsville, Ind. 47933 or e-mail it to:
    Now, without further ado, it’s my distinct honor to present our current list of Notable Nineties!
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  • Tuesday, June 26, 2018 4:00 AM
    In Montgomery County, the real election takes place in the primary . . . generally. That’s because the Republicans tend to dominate things, so whichever member of the GOP wins the primary usually wins in the fall.
    But not always. Whether or not this is one of those years remains to be seen – but it’s probably something County Commissioner Jim Fulwider, County Councilman Mark Smith and Indiana Rep. Tim Brown will be watching.
    After the May primary, Fulwider appeared to be a shoo-in for re-election. He didn’t face an opponent and there’s been no indication that the Democrats had anyone they wanted to throw in as a challenger.
    But a former county commissioner who has run before as an independent might change that.
    Ed Stephens reportedly has been talking with multiple groups around the county and is considering making a run at his former seat.
    In order to do that, Stephens has until the first part of July to gather signatures and file with the county voter registration office. He must also present a petition signed by 171 people. That odd number comes from an arcane Indiana law that says the petition must have signatures totaling 2 percent of the number of people who voted in the 2014 election for secretary of state. In Montgomery County that total was 8,560.
    So what happens if Stephens runs? Well, not too long ago Dan Guard, the chair of the county GOP, said in an interview that he thought Fulwider was a lot like Terry Hockersmith, a candidate that’s almost impossible to beat.
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  • Tuesday, June 19, 2018 4:00 AM
    I’ve never claimed to be the smartest guy in the room . . . in fact, as the years go by I am beginning to realize how very little I know. But one thing that never ceases to amaze me is how many lessons I’ve forgotten from a childhood in the late ‘50s and 1960s.
    For example, my grandmother had deep roots in Ireland and she was a devout Catholic. If she told me once, she told me a thousand times that it’s far better to give than to receive. It was a tough lesson for a greedy little kid to grasp . . . just ask my wife.
    But I got reminded of that wonderful lesson when we offered a free one-year Online Edition subscription to Montgomery County’s first responders, educators and active military. We did so as a way to say thank you for those three groups stepping up (sadly, in harm’s way in today’s world) and helping others. It’s not like winning the lottery, but it was one way we could say thank you!
    Little did I know that we would get far more in return.
    For example, here’s a note from a fourth-grade teacher at Hoover.
    “That is a super thoughtful thing to do. Not one thing will fix our society, but it's going to take all of the little things to make a change. I appreciate your effort to do your part.”
    Or this one from a kindergarten teacher from Hose.
    “I just heard about your offer and I appreciate it . . . As an educator, I enjoy seeing stories about my students in print. It allows me the opportunity to talk to them about something besides school and to show I care. They love knowing they are famous for a moment! If everyone just showed more kindness, our world would be a better place. Thank you!”
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  • Tuesday, June 12, 2018 4:00 AM
    A few weeks ago The Paper quietly rolled out a new program for first responders and teachers. We didn’t make a big fuss about it because frankly we didn’t want our “friends” to do what they always do, try to twist it into something it’s not.
    But now that’s it’s off to a great start we’re happy to share the details – and open the door even wider. What door? What details?
    Pardon me for burying the lead, but the eight or nine of you who regularly follow my ramblings know that I’ve been perched high atop the soapbox when it comes to violence involving schools and first responders. In fact, a quick check that didn’t even involve my fingers and toes shows that I’ve written about said topic in one form or another five times since May. It seems pretty clear to me that the answer to the troubles our country faces aren’t going to come from one place, but from what Warren Harding and later Richard Nixon called the silent majority. No offense to our friends from the corner of Capitol and Washington in Indianapolis, but the solution begins in our house, not the Statehouse.
    So we at the Little Paper That Could started with what we can do. We reached out to the schools and the local government. We told them as a thank you for their service and for their decision to step up day after day after day for all of us, we would offer them our services – at no cost.
    No strings attached.
    And look, before anyone starts the aforementioned twisting process, let me be clear. This isn’t going to make anyone’s year. It isn’t a windfall for us because last time I checked, “free” didn’t exactly enhance the bottom line. And we’re not pretending that teachers / first responders just won the lottery. Not by a long shot.
    Creating a daily edition of our paper is what we do. We make it with our very own hands, our heads, our hearts and our souls every day, 365 days a year. And we’re offering it gratis to anyone who’s a first responder, a teacher . . . and now, active military.
    There’s no catch. It’s not a “trial” offer. Nope, it’s a year-long subscription to our Online Edition – a value of $42. The only details are:
    Recipients must be a first responder, a teacher (school employee) or active military from Montgomery County
    They sign up by e-mailing from their work e-mail account
    And if they are a current Print Edition subscriber, we’ll continue their Print Edition until it expires and then start the Online Edition.
    Why are we doing this? It’s truly not complicated. If we’re going to get out of this mess our country is in, efforts begin at home. We need to return to what some smart folks never forgot, neighbors stand up for neighbors. The outstretched hand to help isn’t marred by a finger pointing blame – or doing something else. 
    And, truth to tell, there’s not much argument that all three of the groups we’re making our offer to are in harm’s way more than ever as our world changes.
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  • Tuesday, June 5, 2018 4:00 AM
    Two weeks ago I wrote about school shootings. Three days later, a student and a teacher were shot at a school that was built half a mile from where I grew up.
    So last week, I did not – could not – write about it. I’m not sure why. After all, this wasn’t anything new or even – by the very definition – unusual anymore. I’ve been in this business a long time. I’ve covered a school shooting. I was working when a gunman walked into a Winn-Dixie grocery store and began shooting. I was there when a drug raid went wrong and two lost their lives. Anyone who’s worked in the media long enough has seen death. And tragedy. It would be unfair and inaccurate to say we don’t care. We do. We set those feelings aside and do our jobs.
    This time was different.
    Look, I said a couple of weeks ago that I don’t have all the answers. In the two weeks since, that hasn’t changed. But I do have some thoughts – thoughts that aren’t going to be too popular. In today’s politically correct society where so many believe they are entitled to whatever they want, folks don’t want to hear about responsibility. We the people seem to be more interested in blame, not solutions.
    Understand this though. By the grace of God and a heroic teacher who hadn’t forgotten tackling drills learned on a football field no one was killed in Noblesville. But this was the 23rd school shooting in the 22 weeks since Jan. 1. Think about that for a second – more than one shooting a week. There are 39 people dead in 22 weeks. So if this offends, pardon me. Or not.
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  • Tuesday, May 22, 2018 4:00 AM
    This writing is taking place on Saturday. I pray that when it is published on Tuesday that no more school shootings have taken place – that no more police or first responders have been killed in the line of duty.
    There have been too many. Far too many.
    Think of this. Graduating seniors are leaving school having seen 77 school shootings in the last four years. Those 77 terrible events resulted in the death of 93 people.
    So far this calendar year, there have been 22 shootings with 39 dead. That’s more people killed in less than five months than any full year since these seniors entered their last four years.
    This is madness . . . insanity. What must we change in order for this to stop?
    And please, please don’t bring politics into the equation. I’m so sick of the left claiming that getting rid of guns is the answer . . . and the right explaining the Second Amendment to me.
    When there is a dead child I don’t give a damn about the politics.
    It feels like there are more arguments over guns then there are over dead children. Can we forget the pettiness of politics for a minute and think about a child lying in a coffin? Can we skip the rhetoric and have nothing but pure and unfiltered empathy for the moms and dads and relatives of the slain?
    Look, I’ve never pretended to be the smartest guy in the room, but it sure seems to me there’s no one answer. This is about a society that is way too prone to violence. It’s about drugs. It’s about mental illness. It’s about a lack of caring. It’s about 14 other things of which I am not aware. It’s about so much.
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  • Tuesday, May 15, 2018 4:00 AM
    Don’t you just love this warmer weather? I sure do, especially on the weekends. While I generally view yardwork as something akin to going to a wedding, binge watching soap operas and sitting through a root canal or three, I don’t mind mowing. Sitting on a Cub Cadet with a cold beverage handy isn’t a half bad way to spend an afternoon.
    So it was this last Saturday. I was at the office, hurrying to get through so I could get home and start up the tractor (well, the lawn tractor) and head out to the back 40 (yard). Maybe it was because I was hurrying, but for whatever reason I had just wheeled around with a box full of files to take to storage when – 
    John Hammer, the mammoth behemoth of a man was standing smack dab in the middle of the doorway – pretty much filling the whole frame – and my nose nearly ran into his chest. 
    “Dammit, John!” I yelled, not really thinking at the moment. If I had been thinking I might’ve chosen a more friendly tone.
    Hammer, a man with the common sense of previous generations and a work ethic to match, just stood there. He always does. The man doesn’t speak very often, but when he does, it tends to make a lot of sense.
    So I sat down the box and plopped in the chair. Hey, when you’re not sure if your heart is going to keep pumping or stop in protest sitting seems a good idea.
    “Notice you’re not a fan of negative campaigning,” he said in a voice that puts you in mind of 40-grit sandpaper. “Not jumping up and down about social media either.”
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  • Tuesday, May 8, 2018 4:00 AM
    Hate to be repetitive, but I think you’ll read elsewhere in today’s Little Paper That Could a report on our Weekly Online Poll. 
    This is so cool it’s worth repeating.
    As of Monday, about 85 percent of our respondents said they vote. But wait! It gets better!
    About 75 percent of those said they do it because “It is absolutely the right thing to do.” The other 10 percent said they vote but they’re “not sure it matters.” (One out of 10 said it depends on the election while only 5 percent said they don’t vote because it doesn’t make a difference.)
    These early results are pretty powerful, aren’t they? In a time when voter turnout can be awfully tough the folks who read a newspaper, specifically this newspaper, say not only do they vote by they do it because it’s the right thing to do.
    What an impressive group of people . . . of Americans. How very cool is that!
    Now, before I jump up and down too far, let me be the first to say that this is indeed early. The poll comes online each Saturday morning at 4 a.m. You see we have special newspaper elves that rise bright and early on the weekend and post the poll on our web site. The elves leave the poll active until 3:59 a.m. the following Saturday . . . so, the results we see on Monday might not be the same results we see Thursday, Friday or even early (really early) Saturday morning.
    But let’s examine what the results mean so far.
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  • Tuesday, May 1, 2018 4:00 AM
    Every year on the first day of May I can hear Julie Andrews singing in my head about the month of May from Camelot – a time and place long gone from the special place it once held in America’s history.
    As the weather finally looks like it might start acting more like spring than fall, perhaps we all can enjoy a month . . . once we get the election behind us.
    Once more our political process has sunk to new lows. There’s been name calling, truth stretching (yes, that’s being kind) and in general a negative approach that leaves most folks wondering if the swamp – whether it’s in DC, Indianapolis or right here in Montgomery County – will ever get drained.
    Doesn’t it seem like it’s gotten worse? Some folks blame social media. I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. I do know that we used to be taught to hold our tongue and our temper and let a little time pass before reacting. With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and a gazillion other ways to instantly share thoughts, that ain’t happening anymore. Not even a little bit.
    We tend to shoot first and ask questions later. And what if we didn’t have the whole story . . . or heavens to Murgatroyd, what if we were wrong? Well, let’s just say that not everyone rushes back to social media quite as fast to share that news. But it’s OK, because those things don’t make as big a splash on aforementioned social media, right? (Wink, wink!)
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The Paper of Montgomery County,
a division of Sagamore News Media 
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P.O. Box 272
Crawfordsville, Indiana 47933


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