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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

  • Tuesday, December 12, 2017 4:00 AM
    Notes scribbled on an Alfred E. Neuman for President bumper sticker . . . 
    I’ve never rooted against an American in the Olympics, but skier Lindsey Vonn sure is making it tempting.
    Vonn was being interviewed by CNN – more on that in a moment – and said that she would not accept an invitation to the White House . . . because, wait for it, of President Donald Trump.
    Listen, I don’t care if Trump, Obama, Harry Truman or Minnie Mouse is the president. If an athlete is invited to the peoples’ house in Washington, D.C., put your personal feelings aside, throw on those big boy or big girl pants and go!
    Vonn can like or dislike anything she wants – she certainly has that privilege. But a whole lot of athletes (and others) in this country seem to forget that they can and should respect the office.
    I’m sick and tired of petty politics that get in the way of everything else, so if Vonn wants to make it personal that’s fine with me. When it comes to Olympic skiing, I’ll be rooting for her teammates, her opponents, the officials and anyone except her.
    And before I hop off the soapbox, hey CNN – what the hell kind of question were you asking? I heard the interview and the questions were all about Donald Trump. I don’t seem to recall you asking any of the Olympic athletes on their way to Vancouver, London, Sochi or Rio de Janeiro if they would accept invites from President Barack Obama. Of course I’m getting up there in age because surely a splendid news organization like CNN wouldn’t slant their questions . . . 
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  • Tuesday, December 5, 2017 4:00 AM
    By now you know the drill. It’s Saturday morning. The office is closed, doors locked. The place is dark. And quiet. It’s my favorite time of the week because I tend to get a lot done. 
    That was exactly the scenario and I was deep in paperwork when- 
    There are specific moments in life when things become crystal clear. It was in that moment that I was certain I was in the beginning stages of a massive heart attack. My vision clouded. I lost my breath. My chest pounded. I was afraid to check my pants.
    He was giggling. Actually giggling. John the incredible hulk Hammer giggling? 
    “You need to learn how to relax, Timmons,” he said. “You remind me of that cartoon cat that ended up on the ceiling when the dog came up behind him and barked.”
    “Yeah, well, I’m glad I can give you some entertainment,” I grumbled as I let go of the ceiling . . . but Hammer wasn’t giggling anymore. Not even smiling.
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  • Tuesday, November 28, 2017 4:00 AM
    Like any business, we’ve had a few hits and misses along the way. While I won’t say I enjoy the misses, there are a couple of hits that have worked out pretty well. The Sunday Edition has certainly been a huge hit – perhaps our biggest. Creating Readers’ Choice back in 2005 has been a pretty big deal, too. But truth to tell, the Challenge has been one of our hits that has become my favorite.
    That’s because of the people involved.
    If you are not familiar with the Challenge, it is roughly based on the television show The Biggest Loser. What we do is bring together a group of community-minded individuals who want to lose some weight. We partner with the great folks at Athena Sport & Fitness and Franciscan Health and run a 10-week program. 
    We raise money that has gone to local non-profits in the past and now to fitness and literacy programs for young people. 
    And we work with great people. 
    That’s been the fun part for me. I won’t name names because out of the nearly 70 participants we’ve had over the last few years I would be sure to miss someone. However, I’ve got to share one story about one person who’s going through the Challenge a second time.
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  • Tuesday, November 21, 2017 4:00 AM
    A man much older and wiser than me once told me I had the most diverse taste in music of anyone he knew. From the Oak Ridge Boys to the Archies, from Bobby Darrin to Jerry Reed, from Janis Joplin to Donna Summer, from the Andrews Sisters to ZZ Top . . . truth to tell, there aren’t many types of music I don’t like – at least a little. Shucks, I even told my better half that it’d be kind of cool to have bagpipes at my funeral – a response which went over about as well as, uh, well, bagpipes playing.
    At any rate, we had just seen the new Marvel movie, Thor: Ragnarok and I had Led Zeppelin’s classic Immigrant Song playing at a level the good folks at Beltone wouldn’t have been happy with. It was just me, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and –
    “HOLY CRAP!”
    John Hammer, a ginormous man with hands the size of ham hocks, was suddenly standing in my doorframe – the entire doorframe. I hadn’t heard him come in. Then again, I never hear him come in. I can’t prove this, but I think he takes great delight in somehow coming into our offices when they are closed and waiting until I least expect it and – BAM! It’s like Emeril on steroids.
    “People don’t deserve to be happy,” the big man growled in a voice that made 10 miles of gravel road sound smooth. 
    “Well Happy Thanksgiving to you, too, John,” I managed while still trying to catch my breath. “But dang, even for you that’s a bit harsh, don’t you think?”
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  • Tuesday, November 14, 2017 4:00 AM
    Notes scribbled on the back of a David Henry Thomsett album . . . 
    Last week, we sent out an e-mail notice that many of you got and that prompted a lot of good questions – and surprisingly – a lot of understanding and agreement. So, to share all the answers . . . 
    • Yes, we are raising our subscription rates Jan. 1. 
    • Yes, this includes a small charge for our daily Online Edition.
    • Yes, the price will include our new and immensely popular Sunday Edition.
    In addition, let me add a little more.
    • Yes, this is our first across-the-board circulation rate increase since we started in 2004.
    • Yes, we have grown dramatically and are nearing 10,000 customers for the first time in our company’s history.
    • Yes, we hope that after more than 13 years you will forgive us this one small price increase.
    • And yes, if you sign up now for a year you can get 15 months for the price of 12 AT THE OLD RATE!
    Just for the record, annual home delivery rates are going from $88 to $99 – still far cheaper than any other newspaper in these parts. Our six-month rate is going from $48 to $59 and we are going to charge $3.99 per month (or $42 a year) for the Online Edition, which comes out seven days a week, 365 days a year – including every Sunday and holiday!
    Yeah, yeah, I know I sound like a pitchman, but think about this. It’s still the cheapest price around and The Paper is the fastest growing newspaper for miles and miles! Oh, and did I mention our Sunday Edition? It averages 33 pages a week (isn’t that great how online can be an odd number – try doing that in print!) and includes all kinds of cool reading on travel, books, Montgomery County’s most popular columns from the sports and news worlds, a respectful and complete collection of the week’s obituaries, a calendar of local events, a super-colorful and useful page for the younger members of our audience and more and more and more! One reader told us that he sat there with a cup of coffee and his tablet and finished the whole pot before he got done reading!
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  • Tuesday, November 7, 2017 4:00 AM
    Shootings in America seem to bring out all sorts of debates except the important one – what can we do to stop this?
    No offense all you on the far right and far left, but don’t send me the worn-out debates about gun control, personal rights and the rest. I won’t get baited into the argument that defines guns as the problem . . . or the solution. Some of you folks can cuss and discuss that to your heart’s content.
    Isn’t it time we focused on what’s wrong with our society today? Isn’t it time we focused on us?
    I read a James Dobson Focus on Family column a few years back where he talked about music lyrics. I don’t remember the exact words, but the gist was pretty simple. In the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s, lyrics tended to focus on golly-gee-willikers-everything-is-swell scenarios. Little by little over the decades, things changed. We went from I love my dad to I want to kill my parents to I want to kill myself to . . . well, you get the idea.
    And no, no, no, I am not laying the blame of mass shootings on rock’n’roll. Bear with me.
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  • Tuesday, October 31, 2017 4:00 AM
    Got to admit, I’m not crazy about the recent turn to cold weather. As I get older I really like warm weather. I hate to admit that – the part about getting older, I mean.
    I especially dislike cold temps at Halloween. It’s fun to watch kids, young and old, get into the Halloween spirit (no pun intended). Cold and crappy weather tend to put a lid on the fun, know what I mean?
    At least that’s what I was thinking sitting here at the World Wide Headquarters of our little media empire when the phone snapped me back to attention.
    “The Paper, Timmons.”
    “This here’s the operator. Would you accept a ghoul to gobblin collect call from Sammy Terry?”
    This here? Ghoul to gobblin? Sammy Terry? This could only be . . . 
    “Hello Bubba.”
    For folks who don’t know Bubba Castiron, he introduced himself a few years ago. He’s not a bad guy but he would lose a debate with a bar of soap.
    “Aww heck, Timmons. How’d you know it was me? I figured today being Halloween and all I’d get you with the fake operator gag.”
    “Nice try, Bubba but I don’t even know if they do collect calls any more. And besides, Bob Carter passed away a few years ago.”
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  • Tuesday, October 24, 2017 4:00 AM
    Hard to believe The Challenge, an idea roughly based on the TV show, The Biggest Loser, has been around long enough to get Roman numerals. But what the heck. Rather than call it Challenge 2017, Challenge IV has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?
    At any rate, tonight begins the third week of 10 and this is a pretty impressive group. First off, it’s a group of 17, one of the larger sizes we’ve had. Second, there are a few folks who are back for another go – including yours truly. My main job, however, is to not slow down everyone else and I’ll tell you – that’s a challenge all by itself.
    What’s special about this group is their determination. In the three previous Challenges, there’s been a fair amount of grumbling and griping about the workouts. I know because I did some of that G&G myself. This group? About the only thing I hear them say is: We got this!
    And that they do! 
    What’s amazing to me is how this has grown and grown. We had 16 participants last time and that was our biggest to date. So we’ve topped that record and we’ve even had two people join after things got started this year. Clearly, there’s some traction being gained here.
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  • Common sense missing from proposed bill
    Tuesday, October 17, 2017 4:00 AM
    When I read about Indiana House Rep. Jim Lucas of Seymour drafting a bill that would require journalists to register with the government and get a license and fingerprinted, I chuckled.
    Then I thought about it.
    Then I gulped.
    Forget the fact that this is dangerously close to the slippery slope that includes burning books and big brother. Forget too (please) that we on this side of the line often deserve the criticism we get from both lawmakers and you good folks out there in readerland. Heck, let’s also forget the fact that Lucas is probably just doing this as a publicity stunt and it was only a few months ago that he took down a few ill-advised Facebook posts and issued an apology.
    The bigger issue is that we continue to find ways to not have civil, or even intelligent debates. 
    Politicians, from local to state to national, seem to get thinner skin each year and come up with more lamebrain ideas. Sure, there are some like my friend Sen. Phil Boots. If you want to talk to Phil about an issue, you may or may not end up agreeing. But he will certainly hear you out and you can bet he’ll respect your point of view. He’ll also tell you straight up how he feels. 
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  • Tuesday, October 10, 2017 4:00 AM
    Our first Sunday edition is in the books and, to paraphrase actress Sally Field, you like us! We could not be happier! But what would a column be without some drama, so let me share.
    As Neil and Stacey are putting the finishing touches on the Sunday Edition, I’m over at Ft. Benjamin Harrison for the Indianapolis Half Marathon. Lest anyone get the wrong idea, do not be impressed with the previous sentence. Anyone, and I truly mean anyone, can sign up for an event such as a half marathon. Doing it, and especially doing it reasonably well, is another story altogether. Believe me when I tell you that I did not do reasonably well. Let’s just say that a nice couple who very likely could qualify for our Notable Nineties passed me at one point and kindly asked, “are you OK?” I thought about telling them to mind their own business. Thought about a lot of things I could say. And had I been able to breathe at that moment, I probably would have.
    But I digress.
    When the 13.1 miles were completed, it still took another hour or so to get back to my phone. That’s because I was parked on the other side of the base and despite a few thousand able-bodied military personnel within a grenade throw, there was absolutely no military transport going in that direction. How do I know? Because I asked each one of them. Actually, asked might not be the best term. Pleaded or begged? Yeah, those fit.
    So, I get back to my phone and, as the kids say, it had blown up. Apparently there was a major malfunction at the printer and our Saturday paper was in worse shape than I was . . . and at that point, that was saying something.
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  • Tuesday, October 3, 2017 4:00 AM
    “So you’re a grandfather now, Timmons?”
    The rich, deep bass could only belong to one man. Yet John Hammer did not boom out his greeting as usual and scare me half to death in the process. Perhaps now that he and I are in that special fraternity together he was going to be kinder?
    “Thanks for not sneaking up on me and giving me a heart attack, John,” I said, feeling a warm connection to the giant of a man.
    “I’m not moving too fast,” he rumbled. “Think I’m coming down with something.”
    So much for brotherhood.
    “Yes, John, we have three grandsons now. A few months ago we had none. Kind of famine to feast, if you know-”
    “So what are you going to teach them, Timmons?” he said, putting a quick end to my rambling.
    “Uh, I thought my job was to spoil them. You know, give them cotton candy and soda pop and send them back home with mom and dad!”
    Hammer just stared. I’ve never understood how he and my wife can get the same point across – “hey, shut up idiot” – without ever uttering a sound. It’s a talent.
    “OK, I don’t really feed them cotton candy,” I said, muttering under my breath that the fair has been gone for months. (Although I did sneak the littlest one some molasses and brown sugar.)
    “I heard Sheriff Casteel talking,” the Hammer began. “Said he was waiting for a train and he noticed how a lot of the folks in other cars looked and acted impatient. That got me to thinking. We’ve lost tolerance for a lot of things that used to not be important.”
    When Hammer starts going down a path like this, I just keep my mouth shut. And learn.
    “People get stopped at a red light, they get ticked,” he said. “They come up on a slower car, they get ticked. They have to stand in line at the Post Office, they get ticked. Shoot, I see people jockeying back and forth between lines at the grocery, just trying to hurry up. It almost always takes ‘em longer.” 
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  • Tuesday, September 26, 2017 4:00 AM
    Let’s take a break from the wind farms, Stellar, zoning and all the rest if we could for just a moment please and take a gander at something our good neighbors down south in Greene County are doing.
    On Saturday, the 6th annual Made-in-Greene-County Showcase will take place in Bloomfield.
    What exactly is the “Made-in-Greene-County Showcase”? 
    Pretty much what you think it is. 
    According to the very attractive website, the Greene County Tourism Advisory Board is the host organization for the event that is limited to vendors who make their products in Greene County. It’s held the last Saturday of September each year at the Event Center in the 4-H Fairgrounds.
    Imagine that? A tourism board not plagued with politics . . . an Event Center . . . and promoting truly local companies and local goods and products.
    What a concept!
    Just think about what that could look like in Montgomery County if we weren’t so busy chasing windmills, arguing for and agin’ zoning, spending money like the taxpayers have it to burn and so on. Why, we could talk about lighting products created right over here on Elmore Street that go all over the world. We could point with pride to books printed on a big patch of land between Wabash Avenue and Indiana 32 that open minds around the planet. How about putting brakes on either coast that begin on Darlington Avenue?
    Ever took a tour of Pace Dairy? What an impressive place with all kinds of edible goodies hitting the interstates every day.
    How about the food our farmers grow? How far does it go?
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  • Tuesday, September 19, 2017 4:00 AM
    For the fourth time, the Little Paper That Could and the best exercise place in town – Athena Sport & Fitness – are teaming up to sponsor The Challenge. This will be known as The Challenge IV . . . and just to be clear, those are Roman numerals not something trainers have to give me after a few laps around the gym.
    We’ve already got folks signing up, but there are still a few spots left. The seat begins pouring in October this time. We’re hoping the workouts and subsequent weight loss will help those of us who struggle at the holidays.
    Want to get involved? Well friends, all you need is a willingness to work hard at least twice a week, be smart about following the advice of trainers and nutritionists and the inclination to try to raise a few bucks for a worthy cause.
    Really. It’s that simple.
    Here’s the scoop.
    Athena Sport & Fitness (did I mention how good these folks are!), your friendly local newspaper and Franciscan Health Crawfordsville and Franciscan Physicians Network are once again sponsoring everything. Athena and The Paper have been doing this since the first class and Franciscan came along shortly after. 
    If you are familiar with our program, bear with me. If not, here’s the skinny (no pun intended). This is a local version of “The Biggest Loser” TV show. In our rendition, local men and women sign up for a 10-week program in which they:
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  • Tuesday, September 12, 2017 4:00 AM
    It’s a pretty exciting time over here at the world-wide HQ of the Little Paper That Could. On one hand we are closing in on 10,000 subscribers to our daily editions. On the other hand, while other newspapers cut back, reduce the number of days they publish, shrink the size of the printed page and decrease the number of pages per edition . . . we are adding a Sunday edition, adding pages and going seven days a week, 365 days a year!
    Not sure what we’d do if we had a third hand . . . 
    Yup, it’s a pretty hectic and busy time in the beautiful downtown offices of the Athena Center. So, in answer to the multitude of inquiring minds that wanted to know, this is the big secret. I hope that you are pleased that our community will be one of a very small number of communities around the state of Indiana with a Sunday edition. Even more though, we really hope you are pleased with the additions and new features you’ll see on Sundays.
    For example, Sgt. John Perrine of the Indiana State Police is helping us with a new feature. We haven’t come up with a name yet, but if you’ve got a suggestion let us know. The gist of the column will be for readers to ask traffic or driving questions that Sgt. John will answer. For example, if you pull in front of a car and cause an accident – BUT the other car was going the wrong way on a one-way street, are you still at fault? How about, can you be stopped for speeding in a parking lot? If so, what’s the limit?
    By the way, if John’s name is familiar you may have seen his hilarious video on turn signals. For those online, we’ve set it up here so you can see it. If you’re reading our Print Edition, go to next time you’re on the web. The video has been shared millions of times (literally, he’s a State Policeman – he wouldn’t lie about that!). 
    A lot of you have talked about how much you like working with our city editor Stacey Baschwit. Well, Stacey’s work will be featured every Sunday with something new we’re calling Stacey’s Snapshots. 
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  • Tuesday, September 5, 2017 4:00 AM
    Several folks have been asking what all the hush-hush is about. Why are we asking for so much input? What’s going on with this big push to 10,000 subscribers? What’s the secret?
    Tell you what, come back next Tuesday and we’ll share all the details! I hope and think you’ll agree that it’s a big deal. 
    In the meantime, I’d like to tell you a story. It’s a story about why this, the Little Newspaper That Could, owns a piece of my heart.
    It’s the people.
    That absolutely includes you, dear readers – all eight or nine of you who follow this newspaper vagabond’s ramblings. But it surely includes the folks on this side of the page as well.
    I don’t know if you caught it, but John Marlowe wrote a touching column last week about the passing of Sam Jackman. The North Montgomery honor student lost a battle with leukemia. His life and his death touched a community and John wrote a tribute to Sam’s valiant fight.
    Like so very many of John’s pieces it was eloquent, his words touching. I’ve known John for more than 35 years and have always been so very impressed with his insight and his ability to craft a message.
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Crawfordsville, Indiana 47933
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