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Thursday, June 21, 2018

  • 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 wecare@thepaper24-7.com 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 – 
    AAAIIIIIEEEE!
    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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  • Tuesday, April 24, 2018 4:00 AM
    An event took place last week in Montgomery County that flew under the radar of the general public – and yet attracted the likes of former speaker of the house and gubernatorial candidate John Gregg and not one, not two, but three generals from the military. There were captains of industry, business owners, a doctor, attorneys and other dignitaries.
    None of the above were the center of attention.
    That spotlight was reserved for one man, Claude Johnson.
    There’s no easy way to say it. Claude is dying. The clock may be ticking for all of us, but Claude’s been told his is ticking faster.
    So a group of men got together for a dinner with Claude. As John Doyel said, it wasn’t “a living wake but an opportunity to honor Claude for his countless contributions to the welfare of others.”
    If you don’t know Claude, there’s no way to do a lifetime of contributions justice in a few short lines of type. If you already know Claude, no explanation is necessary.
    Perhaps Gregg summed up who and what Claude is when he told the story of a letter. It came when Gregg was considering a second run at the Indiana governor’s job. The letter urged Gregg to run, citing the need for good candidates and a strong two-party system. The letter promised that if Gregg elected to run, the author would offer a campaign pledge of several hundred dollars.
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  • Tuesday, April 17, 2018 4:00 AM
    I was just talking to someone about how much the world has changed. Between e-mails, social media and cell phones, it’s astounding that anyone gets anything done anymore. Don’t know about you, but I could spend an entire eight-hour day doing nothing but responding to e-mails and the like. So like everyone, I hurry up best I can.
    That’s what I was doing when the phone rang. With one eye still on the computer I picked up.
    “The Paper, Timmons.”
    “Well, sir, I sure got some good news for you,” the guy on the other end began in a twang that sounded like it came from somewhere south of Putnam County. “You done been selected to win a free shrimp cocktail from that well-known eatery in our capital city.”
    “St. Elmo’s?”
    “No, Bubba’s Bait and Tackle!”
    A long and loud laugh followed and I couldn’t believe that my friend Bubba got me. Actually, it’s been a while since I heard from the man who’s 45 or so cards shy of a deck. Can’t really say I missed him either.
    “Hello, Bubba. What can I do for you?”
    “I got you, Timmons!” he shrieked. “I sure did! St. Elmo’s? Ha! I really had you, didn’t I?”
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  • Tuesday, April 10, 2018 4:00 AM
    Thanks for the feedback on last week’s ramblings. It seems a lot of us agree that the world would be a better place if we all didn’t get so danged offended every time someone zigged instead of zagged. However, there was one reply that is too good not to share.
    Seems I was making the point that the old saying “sticks and stones” wasn’t a bad barometer to live by. My new friend wrote back that if we knew each other back in the day he probably would’ve punched me in the nose . . . and then we would’ve ended up best friends. Ain’t it the truth!
    * * *
    NOT SURE the best way to get the word out, so I’ll just share right here. A while back our paper published a piece that cited recent statistics of how many police had been killed in the line of duty. Although we don’t pretend to have any answers, the Little Paper That Could wanted to do something to let police, fire and all the first responders know how much most of us appreciate them. So we’re offering all first responders in Montgomery County a free Online Edition subscription. We’ve tried to let the city and county folks know, but if you are a first responder and have not heard or taken advantage of this yet, all you have to do is send an e-mail to wecare@thepaper24-7.com and let us know. 
    There’s no strings attached. We were just sitting around talking about it and wondered what a great thing it would be if every business offered a little something. Whatever we all do though, it’s not enough. It’ll never be enough.
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  • Tuesday, April 3, 2018 4:00 AM
    Maybe it was becoming a grandfather? Maybe it was when I escaped the prisoner of war camp called California and moved back home to Indiana? Maybe it was when I got hit in the head by a pitch? Don’t know when it happened, but the politically correct touch a nerve with me that goes straight from the spot where nails on a chalkboard intersect with ice-cold liquid on a bad tooth. 
    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not putting anyone down. Not by a long stretch. The folks who lose their ever-loving minds when they see the logo for the Cleveland Indians have every right to their opinion, same as me. And even if we disagree, I’ll respect their right to be wrong.
    Just kidding! J-U-S-T K-I-D-D-I-N-G!
    However, a few new examples recently popped up that – to borrow from our pals in the NFL – need further review.
    For example, earlier this month the Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, president of the College of Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. and proud home to the Crusaders, sent a letter to students, faculty, staff and alumni to explain the school’s decision to back away from imagery that ties Holy Cross to knights and such. The Rev. Boroughs, in part, wrote: For some, knight imagery alone could convey nobility, chivalry and bravery. However, the visual depiction of a knight, in conjunction with the moniker Crusader, inevitably ties us directly to the reality of the religious wars and the violence of the Crusades.
    Hey, I get it. The good guys weren’t always the good guys during the Crusades
    But just as I was getting my head around that, an all-female college – also in Massachusetts – announced that they were not going to call their students women anymore. Yes, you read correctly. It is a college of females. Yes, they are telling their staff not to call their students women. The reason? According to a section of the school’s web site, staff are instructed to say “Mount Holyoke students rather than Mount Holyoke women” and to “avoid making statements like ‘we’re all women here . . . ’ ” Further, staff are told to “invite your students to let you know if you misgender them so that you can avoid doing so in the future.”
    Misgender? Isn’t there an old Annette and Frankie movie about guys dressed up as women trying to sneak in the female college? If there wasn’t, there should have been.
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  • Tuesday, March 20, 2018 4:00 AM
    It’s been a little while since we honored what we call our Notable Nineties. So with spring just hours away, now seems a great time to so do.
    What, or more appropriate, who is a Notable Ninety? That’s anyone in or connected to our little corner of God’s country who has reached the notable age of 90. And why is that a big deal? If you’re at a certain age you know the answer. If you are a youngblood, try Googling what life was like in 1928. Slowly go forward and ponder what these people experienced and endured. Things like the war to end all wars, the great depression, the dawn of the atomic age (and the very real fear that went along with it), race riots when inequality and injustice were far more prevalent than they are today . . . that’s just for starters. They lived, worked, sweated, cried, loved, laughed and survived more. Much more.
    These folks have earned our respect. It’s truly our honor to lift them up every chance we get. Yes, there are more names today than the last time but we’re also missing some from last time as well. We remember those who have gone on in our hearts and prayers.
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  • North grad Mitch Barker strumming way to top
    Tuesday, March 13, 2018 4:00 AM
    Mitch Barker is a young man with an old attitude.
    By today’s parlance he has an old soul. Might be. Might not. But what he definitely does have is a new album. In Transit is a collection of 10 diverse songs released late last year.
    One of the places selling it, cdbaby.com, describes the Mitch Barker Band as “all about composing thoughtful, guitar-based rock. This diverse group of musicians create a bluesy, yet modern sound that is completely original.”
    Barker currently lives in Lafayette. His day job finds him at Faith Community Center on the west side working as a personal fitness trainer. And while he has passion for the work, it’s obvious his heart is elsewhere.
    “(Music) makes me happiest when I am working at it,” the 31-year-old said over coffee at a Lafayette book store recently. “I realized I had a strong passion (for music). I mean I liked it before, but it’s turned into a serious drive.”
    Barker has a serious voice with a wide range that comes off well in blues (Stone Cold Winter Blues), rock (Gimme Back), soft (The Price) a touch of jazz blues (Voodoo Love) and even contemporary (Free Love). His skill on a guitar is an indication of the work he’s put into his craft.
    He got that from an early start in church.
    “They had the youth group praise band,” he explained. “After that I started singing songs I know I liked and was horrible at it. I just kept trying . . . trying to be less horrible.”
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  • Annual event Saturday at Lake Waveland
    Monday, March 12, 2018 4:00 AM
    One of Indiana’s best-kept secrets has to be Lake Waveland. The more than 600 acres of beautiful land and water sit right off Indiana 47 and many of us drive by it far more often than we stop.
    Perhaps this year we ought to change that?
    A lot of good things, thanks to a lot of good people, have been happening in the southwest corner of our county. 
    Besides just being able to go out and enjoy the scenery and atmosphere of lake life, there are several events, including Catching One Youth At A Time, Touch-A-Truck and a Halloween celebration. 
    Waveland Town Board member Missi Patton came up with the idea for Catching One Youth At A Time. “It started out as a college project for a (human services) class I was taking,” Patton said. “I told Mike about it and it has grown from there.”
    Mike is fellow town board member Mike Frazier. Together the pair refined Patton’s idea and it turned into an annual event that brings young people out to the lake and teaches them the finer points of fishing. The first time was about six years ago and had 17 or 18 kids. It grew to the point where more than 60 took part.
    “The last couple of years, thanks to donations, every kid got a prize,” Frazier said. 
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  • Tuesday, March 6, 2018 4:00 AM
    From our tiny beginnings almost 15 years ago, the little paper that could has been nothing if not innovative. A few folks think we’re smart. Heck, we didn’t really have a choice.
    Some of those innovations worked out nicely. Some crashed and burned. Such is life in the worldwide corporate HQ.
    The next thing we’re going to take a shot at is how news is covered and presented.
    For a while now our government coverage hasn’t been quite up to snuff. I know, I know, you’re shocked. But it’s true. Thing is, every reasonable study out there shows that newspaper readers don’t much care about reading government meeting stories.
    In addition to that, our industry has some issues, especially in the small papers, with the reporters who cover those meetings. All too often they don’t understand what they are covering. And if they don’t understand, well then, it’s kind of challenging to write an intelligent story. 
    The other issue with reporters – again, especially in small papers – sometimes is bias. A hundred or so years ago when I was one of those reporters, editors would make it abundantly clear to leave our personal feelings at the door . . . well, OK, there might have been an adjective or two before door. 
    Today, however, it’s not unheard of for a reporter to voice their own thoughts during a meeting – something that would have gotten them run out of town on a rail back in the day, or at least out of the newsroom.
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The Paper of Montgomery County,
a division of Sagamore News Media 
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