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Sunday, April 21, 2019
  • Wednesday, April 17, 2019 4:00 AM
    A couple of years ago I wrote a column on what the world would look like if I was lord commander (yes, Game of Thrones is back). 
    To this day, I still hear about that once in a while and some of you have had some fun sharing what the world would look like under your watch.
    So, since we all know that the only thing that doesn’t change is . . . well, nothing. Here’s an updated version.
    In my world, police, firefighters and teachers would be among the highest paid folks in society.
    In my world, high school consolidation wouldn't be so widespread and small towns like Darlington, Ladoga, Waynetown, et al would still be thriving.
    In my world, there would be no such thing as class sports.
    In my world, the only way you would get a trophy would be to win a championship. Losing teaches valuable lessons: If you want to be better than the other guy, work harder. And when you work hard and still lose, stick out your hand and give the guy or gal who won the respect they deserve.
    In my world, my weight wouldn't look like perfect score in bowling, and I’d be closer to 40 than 70.
    1 comment(s)
  • Wednesday, April 10, 2019 4:00 AM
    Not long ago in this space, I wrote about House Bill 1212, something I called a terrible piece of legislation designed to keep Hoosiers in the dark about government business.
    Sorry to say that the House passed the bill 62-34 and it’s went to the Senate where it eventually died in committee.
    Thank you senators.
    However, the assault on newspapers by Indiana lawmakers continues and while this may or may not hurt the industry I love, it ultimately hurts all Hoosiers far more.
    To recap:
    The original bill took sheriff sales that are published in newspapers of record around the state and put them on government websites where few people will see them (how often do you surf government sites?). It’s my belief that once the lawmakers successfully torpedo newspapers shining the light of day on any public notices, the rest will fall like a house of cards.
    Look, there are three key points that tend to get lost in this fight. First, these public notices are not for newspapers – just like the freedom of speech is not about newspapers. This is for you. The government, from your local councils and boards all the way up to the legislature, is required – most of the time – to let you know what they are doing so you can weigh in, if you so choose. 
    0 comment(s)
  • Wednesday, April 3, 2019 4:00 AM
    Notes scribbled on the back of a Louie Dampier ABA trading card . . . 
    There are rumblings that the county is considering creating a county manager position. Expect some backlash from the folks who want Montgomery County to look the same as it did in 1956. However, give this a little thought and it might not be such a bad idea.
    First off, anyone who thought the Kernan-Shepard Report (leaner local government) was on track should like this idea. I haven’t heard a lot about how the job will be structured, but it seems to make sense that a full-time professional managing a multi-million dollar entity is wiser than three part-time commissioners who have full-time jobs to worry about.
    As for who it might be, if indeed it happens, one name consistently pops up, former Sheriff Mark Casteel – an excellent manager and good man.
    Stay tuned.
    * * *
    WELL, THE boo-birds came out in opposition to a column I wrote about Montgomery County’s comprehensive plan. The one thing most of the naysayers pointed out is that they believe this is a precursor to zoning.
    1 comment(s)
  • Hammer speaks his mind, but not to Timmons
    Wednesday, March 27, 2019 4:00 AM
    The other day, I was in town, so I stopped by to see my good friend Tim Timmons. As I reached for the door to the office, it flew open and a “mountain of a man” hurried out of the building and slipped by me as I got completely off the sidewalk to make way. He was deep in thought and mumbling something about “Timmons” and “stupid people” and a couple other things I shouldn’t repeat. Thinking that my friend Tim might be in trouble, I turned and asked this large individual if he needed any help. He looked me up and down, and rather gruffly replied “You know where that Timmons guy is?”
    It hit me right then and there that these broad shoulders that were now blocking out the sun must belong to none other than “the Hammer,” the same guy who drops in, unannounced, on Tim periodically. 
    I must have had one of those dumbfounded looks on my face, because John waved his hand and repeated…”H-e-l-l-o! You know where to find Timmons?” 
    That startled me back to life and I stammered, why no . . . uh . . . I was just headed in to see him myself. It was at that moment, pointing at the door, that I realized that I now had no reason to go forward and enter the building, and more importantly that there was a very large, somewhat agitated man between me and the parking lot. Now what?
    0 comment(s)
  • Wednesday, March 20, 2019 4:00 AM
    Not sure, but the world did not stop spinning last week when Montgomery County officials unveiled the final draft of the much-publicized comprehensive plan.
    Friends, I’ve lived in a lot of places in this great nation of ours and I’m not sure I’ve seen an issue that sparks as much debate as planning and zoning does right here in Sugar Creek City. So when the plan was placed on the county’s web site, I went and downloaded a copy right away and spent a few days reading it.
    Full disclosure, I copied off Pauletta Ebert in school so I’m not the smartest guy in the room. However, Pauletta wrote pretty quickly so I learned how to read fast. That’s not to say anything about comprehension though, so bear with me. There are 156 pages in this document, but thankfully a bunch are blank and a bunch more have maps. Whew!
    3 comment(s)
  • Wednesday, March 13, 2019 4:00 AM
    The Little Paper That Could was recently recognized in our industry’s premiere publication, Editor & Publisher. Each March the magazine does a feature called 10 Newspapers That Do It Right. As they point out, it’s not a listing of the 10 best papers in the country, nor is it intended to say any of them are perfect. It’s just a way to highlight and share good ideas from papers around the U.S.
    No, the Little Paper That Could was not one of the 10. However, we did make the honorable mention list of 12 – so out of 22 newspapers from all over the United States, your paper that is owned and operated right here in Montgomery County was up there with the big boys.
    Before anyone thinks we’re getting the big head at the worldwide HQ, let me assure you that no one, at least not anyone with any common sense, in the media world is getting cocky right now. The future is too uncertain as a slew of sources vie for your attention. Social media wants to tell you the news. There are approximately 1,183,293 web sites in Montgomery County that want to be your information source – well, OK, maybe not quite that many . . . but it seems like it. And of course there are the traditional media outlets like radio, billboards, yellow pages, direct mail and so on.
    So no, we’re not about to rest on our laurels.
    2 comment(s)
  • Wednesday, March 6, 2019 4:00 AM
    At the risk of beating the topic of hate crimes to death, let me share a recent conversation.
    One of the folks who commented on a piece I wrote suggesting that legislation isn’t the answer was Warren Rosenberg, a retired Wabash professor. Dr. Rosenberg took me to task and said I was ignoring the reality of bigotry.
    I try to always thank people for reading my ramblings, and did so with him. That led to a couple of back and forth e-mails and those led to a cup of coffee in beautiful downtown Crawfordsville.
    For the record, Dr. Rosenberg and I did not walk away best friends. Neither did we walk away worst enemies. We have different views on the same subject. At the risk of screwing this up, I believe his point of view can be summarized like this: We should aspire to live up to the law. My point is that a law isn’t going to make that happen.
    There’s no sense in going into the rest. First, it wouldn’t really be fair to Dr. Rosenberg to give my interpretation. My memory – and potentially my understanding – are way too suspect for that. Second, that’s not really the point.
    0 comment(s)
  • Wednesday, February 27, 2019 4:00 AM
    Notes scribbled on a Hubert H. Humphrey for President poster . . . 
    Last week’s ramblings on the proposed hate crime legislation that’s being debated in the State Capitol brought out a lot of response and vitriol – on both sides. A few readers slammed me and a few folks slammed those in return.
    There were comments made on our website, in social media and a couple of voicemails at the office. Interestingly, not one negative comment was made to me in person. Which made me ponder, when did we stop having modest disagreements? 
    I have one opinion and you have another – nothing really wrong with that is there? Must we all think alike? Isn’t some disagreement good for us because I’ll listen to you and you’ll listen to me and we’ll both change a little . . . and grow a bit in the process.
    It’s kind of like all these targeted ads that we are bombarded with online these days. If you click on something to do with camping, pretty sure you’re going to get a barrage of e-mails, ads and pop-ups on tents, sleeping bags and a poster of Smokey the Bear saying only you can prevent forest fires, uh, wildfires.
    Trouble is, all that does is reinforce what we’re already thinking.
    The value of advertising has long been that it opens us up to new ideas, concepts. We may choose to do absolutely nothing, but if all we ever see are things that we’re already thinking about, when will we broaden our horizons?
    0 comment(s)
  • Wednesday, February 20, 2019 4:00 AM
    Let me be clear, by no means am I claiming high ground. There are differing opinions on hate crime legislation and I am no expert. What I am though is a 60something old guy who’s been around the block a time or three. At the risk of ticking off my friends on the left, when it comes to the debate in the Statehouse I fear we are on the wrong track.
    First, I take exception to those who say Indiana is an embarrassment because we are one of five states in the country without hate crime legislation. There used to be a time in this country when groupthink wasn’t a mandate – some of you probably remember that.
    Second, and let me be really clear on this point, I’ve got absolutely nothing against any of the groups that will supposedly be protected if this legislation passes. It really doesn’t matter if the category is race, religion, nationality, gender or anything else. It’s pretty simple. A crime is a crime is a crime. If the exact same crime is deemed worse because it targets one group instead of another, something feels inherently wrong with that.
    But, as I listen to the rhetoric from the governor and others, the reasoning goes that Indiana needs to be a welcoming state – and that if we don’t pass this legislation, we’re not.
    What happened to Hoosier Hospitality?
    9 comment(s)
  • Local judge right at home on the bench
    Wednesday, February 13, 2019 4:00 AM
    Montgomery County Superior Court Judge Heather Barajas lights up when she’s asked about the best part of her job.
    Recently, Heather was kind enough to sit down and talk about her time on the bench, her career and life in general. Other than family, nothing made her smile like the adoptions she deals with in court.
    “I just want them to understand how much they are loved,” she explained. 
    That seems an odd comment from the person presiding over a variety of legal proceedings, but the former assistant district attorney has seen all sides.
    “I dislike when parents are ugly to each other and put their kids in the middle. This is such a big event. It means so much.”
    Heather said the youngsters usually leave court with one of two books, Oh, The Places You’ll Go, by Dr. Seuss or You Are Special, by Max Lucado. She writes a note inside each so they child will have a personal message (as well as a stuffed animal) to commemorate the special day.
    As she described everything, it wasn’t clear who was most impacted, the child, the parents . . . or perhaps the judge?
    “I love adoption hearings,” she said. “It’s really the only time everyone leaves the courtroom happy.”
    Not everything in court has happy endings – although the ones that do tend to stick out.
    0 comment(s)
  • Wednesday, February 6, 2019 4:00 AM
    When I was young, which really seems like a long time ago, I kind of shook my head at my parents and their fondness for music from the 1950s. Guess I never really saw the attraction to it, plus I never understood why they liked living in the past and not getting with the groovy sounds of the ‘60s and ‘70s.
    I get it now.
    It’s one of the reasons why I really enjoy Saturday mornings. I can turn on a playlist from the aforementioned decades and get all kinds of work done . . . and whistle while I work, so to speak. OK, perhaps I do a bit more than whistle. But hey, no one’s around to hear my off-key wailing, so what’s it matter?
    Enter John Hammer. The hulk of a man who would tower over Paul Bunyan appears seemingly out of nowhere. One minute me and Paul McCartney are singing about holding your hand and the next – there’s the familiar shadow of John Hammer standing in my doorway. Forget hand holding. Anyone know CPR?
    “Let me either catch my breath or just get this heart attack over with and I’ll be right with you, John,” I said – forgetting for a moment that he’s twice my size.
    6 comment(s)
  • State legislators trying to hide information
    Monday, January 28, 2019 11:18 AM
    I had the great privilege of testifying at the Indiana Statehouse last week. The House Committee on Financial Institutions, chaired by Rep. Woody Burton, a Republican from Whiteland, was considering House Bill 1212, a terrible piece of legislation authored by Rep. Wendy McNamara.
    McNamara is a Republican from Evansville. She has been in the Indiana Legislature for nine years and has repeatedly drafted bills designed to keep the public more in the dark by taking public notices out of newspapers. I’ve no idea what she has against all of you and the newspaper industry, but that’s hardly the point.
    More importantly, our friends in the Statehouse are once again trying to create new laws to take those public notice ads out of general circulation newspapers and put them in the hands of, well, themselves.
    How very convenient.
    6 comment(s)
  • Wednesday, January 23, 2019 4:00 AM
    The more things change . . . the more they change. The old expression about staying the same doesn’t seem to fit as much as they used to, does it? Like a lot of you, the older I get the more I seem to miss the way things used to be.
    But not all changes are bad and we’ve got a couple at the little paper that could that are downright exciting.
    One of our goals for 2019 is to improve the content, or in simpler terms, to make the product you are gracious enough to purchase, more enjoyable and interesting . . . to you. To that end, we want to bring you more news, more pages, more sports . . . and more opinions. And to that end friends, I’m pleased to share that our lineup of columnists has gotten stronger. For years we’ve brought you the lovely and talented Karen Zach and her popular Around the County column (as well as her very readable Montgomery Memories magazine). Dick Wolfsie exclusively shares his unique wit and wisdom in this county with readers of our paper. You’ve also read great stuff from Dr. John Roberts, Ginger Claremohr, a bunch of talented folks in sports and even the dribblings from this vagabond reporter each week.
    And now, I’m excited to say, you’ll get to read weekly columns from John Marlowe and Rick Hernandez.
    If there’s a stronger lineup (other than yours truly) this side of the Mississippi, I haven’t seen it.
    0 comment(s)
  • Tuesday, January 8, 2019 4:00 AM
    For long-time newspaper readers around here, you might recall that "this, that & tuther" came from my old boss Gaildene Hamilton. Every so often I'll share some tidbits with you that uses the phrase -- and hope that Gail is smiling from that big editor's desk in the sky. Here's another tidbit about that. I'll bet I asked her a dozen times what "tuther" meant. Not sure she ever told me.
    A quick search on the source of all wisdom -- the Internet -- tells us that it's "the other." Not sure that's right or not, but hey, who am I to argue with the Internet?
    * * *
    HERE'S A good wish to Sen. Phil Boots and Reps. Tim Brown and Sharon Negele as they get down to the nitty gritty for all of us over at the Statehouse. This is a budget session, which is a lot in and of itself. However, there are going to be a few controversies this time around as hate crime legislation and marijuana and sports betting are kicked around. The bet here is that at least hate crimes will make it out of committee.
    * * *
    WHILE ON the subject of the Legislature, here's hoping the senators and representatives don't do the unthinkable and kill public notice advertising. First, it means that the fox will be guarding the henhouse. Second, the amount of money spent is less than one-tenth of one percent of the state's budget. And third, the less transparent government becomes the more the public feels uneasy. In the grand scheme of things, it's not much money and the harm changing it far outweighs the good. Here's hoping they leave it alone.
    0 comment(s)
  • Tuesday, January 1, 2019 4:00 AM
    Happy New Year!
    There, I said it quietly for anyone suffering the ill effects of a . . . long night.
    Today is the first day of another new year. I think I’ve seen 62 of these, although the first few might be a bit fuzzy around the edges (come to think of it, so were a few others). This is supposed to be a time of waxing poetic, thinking deep thoughts and looking ahead.
    Yeah, OK.
    What I mostly want to concentrate on is something I recently read about the galaxy’s richest guy, Warren Buffett. He reportedly said that money can buy you hospital wings and all sorts of things. But, like the Beatles said back in ’64 (which brings up a whole different Beatles reference . . . but I digress), it can’t buy you love.
    The article quoted the following from Buffett: “The trouble with love is that you can’t buy it. You can buy sex. You can buy testimonial dinners. But the only way to get love is to be lovable. It’s very irritating if you have a lot of money. You’d like to think you could write a check: I’ll buy a million dollars’ worth of love. But it doesn’t work that way. The more you give love away, the more you get.”
    What a simple, but profound statement.
    0 comment(s)
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