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Saturday, February 24, 2018

  • Tuesday, February 20, 2018 4:00 AM
    Us older folks have a secret. Young folks tend to think we might be kind of smart – sometimes. Thing is, when you’ve lived as long as some of us you just sort of accumulate knowledge. Granted, yours truly has started forgetting a whole lot, but that’s a story for another day.
    Today’s story is about one of the most amazing business models I’ve seen. Ever. Anywhere. Anytime.
    And that is no hyperbole.
    Hoosier Heartland State Bank has transformed itself into a company that transcends good business. Yes, they make a profit. Yes, they are a good place to work. Yes, they have many happy customers. 
    Truth to tell, though, a lot of banks, a lot of companies can say the same thing.
    The difference here is, how many can say they give away more than 10 percent of their profits to good people, good causes and good events in the community? How many can say their mission statement goes beyond words and is truly practiced? How many can say they put their time, treasure and talents where their mouth is?
    Hoosier Heartland can.
    Like a lot of you, I read about the bank’s Shared Values and the banquet the company held earlier this month. Like a lot of you I was floored when I read the bank handed out $50,000 in donations to local non-profits and to teachers.
    3 comment(s)
  • Tuesday, February 13, 2018 4:00 AM
    Today is Feb. 13. The good Lord willing, between the time I wrote this and the time you are reading it, no more members of law enforcement have lost their lives.
    And before anyone gets excited, this is not a political statement on gun control or the (insert color) Lives Matter movement or anything else to do with politics.
    It is, pure, plain and simple, an expression of outrage.
    Beginning last Monday and ending Saturday (I hope), seven law enforcement officers lost their lives. One was involved in a car accident on his way to training. The other six were gunned down on the job.
    Gunned. Down. On. The. Job.
    This has to stop.
    I can’t remember whether it was Plato, Aristotle, Socrates or Alfred E. Neuman, but somebody a lot smarter than me said that two important jobs in society were teachers and police (guardians). But doesn’t it seem like both professions catch a lot of grief when they do their job well? Doesn’t it feel like they catch an unbelievable amount of grief when a bad apple surfaces? And it sure as hell feels like they all too often face life and death consequences for just showing up every day.
    Seven deaths.
    Six days.
    This has to stop.
    Here’s the timeline and the fallen:
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  • Tuesday, February 6, 2018 4:00 AM
    A very bad story had a very good ending last week. 
    Let’s start from the beginning. Someone stuck a file containing child pornography on a post in our Facebook page. It’s my hope that hell has a special place for scum who prey on children that way. In this particular case, I don’t know about hell, but it seems fairly certain that the judiciary system will.
    Remember the much discussed super blue blood moon that took place on Jan. 31? The genius behind, Mike Berry, posted a great photo of the event on The Paper’s FB page (you should check it out, it’s a really cool picture). There were a few comments the next day, and one of them included a file that had nothing to do with the lunar eclipse.
    Mike contacted us and we contacted the police. 
    Enter Det. Travis King of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department.
    King made no promises, but told us that he would look into it. That was on Thursday. Friday morning he came to our offices smiling.
    The case was solved.
    “Very unusual,” was how Det. King replied when asked if cases like this were typically solved overnight. “It was kind of amazing how fast it went,” he added.
    Without going into all the details, the file ended up on our page because it had a Montgomery County connection – Montgomery County, Alabama. However, King said the child who was involved was safe and the adult was identified and being sought by law enforcement.
    King said that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were already involved before the file got to our page and that organization worked with an arm of the Indiana State Police – ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children).
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  • Tuesday, January 30, 2018 4:00 AM
    It was Jan. 28, 1986. I was a fairly new city editor still learning the job. The heavy, black rotary dial phone on my desk rang and my wife of only two and a half years was on the other end. She told me the shuttle blew up.
    * * *
    It was a different time in newspapers. It was a different time in Crawfordsville. In the world.
    Around Indiana, the spread of AIDS seemed to be on TV news each evening. The Dow Jones hadn’t reached 2,000 yet – some economists said it never would. Hijackings of airliners was on the news with some frequency. A TV miniseries, North and South, had been high in the ratings.
    Over on Green Street, Gaildene Hamilton was the editor of the Journal-Review. Pat Cline was the civic affairs editor, Alberta White entertainment editor and I was a young city editor, following a journalist named Bill Runge.
    It was a wonderful time to work in newspapers, and particularly good in Crawfordsville. We had a large staff, including a photographer, a sports editor, a lifestyle editor, an area news editor, a police and courts reporter and more. There were 10 of us in full-time journalism jobs and a few more part-timers. 
    In addition, the local radio station WCVL had three full-timers covering news and sports – Don Sherwood was the long-time news director. There was a full-time news reporter and talented Mike Haynes was the full-time sports director. 
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  • Tuesday, January 23, 2018 4:00 AM
    There certainly can be a world of difference between Republicans and Democrats. However, in Montgomery County the only thing dividing them is a fence in the Pleasant Meadows housing addition.
    That’s because new GOP Chair Dan Guard and new Democratic Party Chair Virginia Servies live there and their backyards are divided by a fence. And while they may not be best friends, they appear to be friendly neighbors.
    “Dan sprays the weeds back there and we wave at each other,” Servies explained. 
    “Yes,” Guard agreed. “I see her out there and we wave and say hi.”
    Since filing for political office began on Jan. 10, the two new party bosses were kind enough recently to chat with The Paper and share a few thoughts about their new roles.
    Guard said that his job is simple. “I’m here to facilitate meetings and try to make sure that everyone elected has an R behind their name.”
    Since Montgomery County is heavily Republican, Servies looks at it a little differently.
    “We’ll let the Republicans fight it out (in the Primary) and see who comes out,” she explained. 
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  • Tuesday, January 16, 2018 4:00 AM
    Word has it that after a few years of real struggles MUFFY – Montgomery United Fund For You – is rebounding.
    Big time.
    As in BIG TIME!
    There’s no official word out of MUFFY yet – and a phone call to the offices ended with a very straight-faced answer neither confirming nor denying that the 2017 drive may indeed top last year’s total.
    So, could be I’ve got this dead wrong. But I’m hoping I don’t.
    You see, it wasn’t too long ago that even getting in the same neighborhood as last year $400K+ amount looked like a long shot. A really, really long shot. 
    Enter new executive director Terry Armstrong and associate director Kara Edie. Those two are the driving forces behind turning around what could have been described as a sinking ship.
    Sinking ship? It’s not too big a stretch.
    It’s been 10 years since MUFFY last topped the half-million dollar mark in its annual fund drive. Since then, drive results at best fluctuated between $420K to $450K, and just five years ago dropped as low as $382K.
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  • Tuesday, January 9, 2018 4:00 AM
    Dear President Trump.
    I’d like to begin by thanking you for your service. I’m sure the job is not an easy one and I appreciate that you stepped up to take it on.
    Let me also add that I voted for you. To be honest, I didn’t see that I had much choice. Despite my good friend Ed’s urging, I simply could not bring myself to vote for Hillary Clinton. Besides, I really liked the idea that a man with a business and not a political background would serve in the White House. I believe I’m like an awful lot of Americans who have had it up to my eyeballs with self-serving politicians and lobbyists. I don’t believe we have many problems that term limits and common sense wouldn’t solve, but like most of those Americans, I hold almost no hope for either anytime soon.
    Sir, I write you today because after a year I see an awful lot of good things happening. The economy is strong. Some say it’s because of your predecessor. Others say it’s a vote of confidence in you. I don’t care. I’m an owner of a small business and whatever helps us pay decent wages, hire more people and serve our customers is all good in my book.
    Besides the economy, there are other bright points. You got NATO countries to pony up so the U.S. is not shouldering the entire financial burden of our alliance. Neither presidents Bush nor Obama were able to do that. You’ve gotten tough on terrorism and the military experts say we are better for that. I believe them, and I thank you.
    But, and you knew there had to be a but coming, right . . . I’m concerned about some other things.
    1 comment(s)
  • Tuesday, December 26, 2017 4:00 AM
    Wrapping paper everywhere, tinsel and pine needles in the carpet and memories to last at least until next year, another Christmas has come and gone. For me, it’s hard to believe this was my 61st. Then again, it’s hard for me to believe I ever left my teens.
    (Yeah, yeah, insert snarky comments here!)
    So here we are in the week between the two holidays. It’s a time of joy, but also a time when schedules are an absolute wreck and some of us are looking forward to getting things back to a more normal schedule. It’s also a week where some of us look ahead, perhaps set some goals and plans. So, without further ado, here’s a look at the little company that could. Where we are, where we are going and maybe even what we want to be when we grow up.
    To begin with, we’re right here this week . . . but our offices are closed. I don’t know if this is a good idea or not, but we’re following the lead of a lot of businesses that shut down for a week to do maintenance and some organization. Many of you know we moved to our new location at the wonderful Athena Center a few months ago. Truth to tell I still haven’t found a few things I had in my old office . . . like a desk. I know I had one someplace.
    Fret not, though. As you can tell, we are continuing to publish each day. That’s what seven days a week, 365 days a year is all about!
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  • Tuesday, December 19, 2017 4:00 AM
    He knocked.
    I couldn’t believe it. John Hammer, the behemoth of a man who actually giggled the last time he snuck in and shocked the daylights out of me, knocked on my door. No heart attack. No stealth. 
    He knocked.
    Made me worry.
    Is he sick?
    “G’morning John,” I said. “Not really used to a knock from you.”
    The man called the Hammer shuffled in. I’ve seen him look like this a few times before . . . usually when he was dropping off a Christmas present. John may be quick with an opinion but social skills are not his strong suit.
    “The Missus made this for you and your family,” he said, handing me a box that smelled like it just came out of the oven. Last year the present was some of the best home-made cookies and bread I ever tasted.
    “John, thank you very much,” I said. “Your visits, even when they scare the snot out of me, are always a pleasure.”
    He nodded. Like I said, when Hammer has a point to pound home he has no equal. Small talk? Not so much.
    “You guys going anywhere for Christmas?” I asked, knowing that John never ventured far from home.
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  • 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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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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