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Tuesday, February 19, 2019
  • 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)
  • Tuesday, December 25, 2018 4:00 AM
    I heard ‘em coming a mile away. John Hammer, who is the size of a tank but can be as quiet as a mouse, and usually scares the bejeebers out of me. This time, though, his cousin (might be by marriage) Bubba Castiron was with him and if there’s ever a time Bubba has his mouth closed I’ve yet to see it.
    “I’m telling you John, you can’t fake those kinds of wrestling moves! Them wrasslers are for real, man! They are the best athletes in the world . . .”
    Yup, that Bubba sure can talk. He’s also about 37 cards shy of a full deck.
    “Merry Christmas, gentlemen,” I said when they got to my door. “What brings you guys out this fine Christmas Eve morning?”
    The behemoth of a man handed over a brightly wrapped box.
    “The missus said she heard you liked these – and that your diet wasn’t going so good anymore.”
    The memory of Mrs. Hammer’s treats from a year ago made my mouth start watering. Besides, is there any Christmas present better than things made by hand?
    “John, I truly appreciate it. And I hope-”
    1 comment(s)
  • Tuesday, December 18, 2018 4:00 AM
    I miss the old days.
    I miss walking into a newspaper office and smelling ink and paper. What a great smell. I miss wandering back to the dock and circulation area and seeing a bunch of little kids picking up bundles of papers to deliver in their neighborhood.
    I miss hearing the clickety-clack of The AP teletype machine, and every once in a while the bell going off to let you know something big had just happened somewhere in the world. I miss going into the darkroom and developing a roll of film, printing the picture and learning how to “dodge” a photo to lighten it up.
    I miss composing rooms and running a story or an ad through a waxer before taking an X-acto blade and cutting it out and pasting it on a broadsheet.
    Sigh. This could go on a while.
    Whether you worked in newspapers or not, you know what I mean. The younger members of the audience are already googling darkroom.
    The point is, my friends, the newspaper world is changing . . . just like it always has. When I first started in the 1970s, some newspapers had what were then called VDT machines – and no, I won’t go into all the cracks we said VDT stood for. The first real newspaper I worked at didn’t even have those. We still had typewriters.
    0 comment(s)
  • Tuesday, December 11, 2018 4:00 AM
    What a year! It was just about a year ago that the little paper that could followed the lead of some companies that close up shop for a week at the end of a year, do some general housecleaning, assess where things stand and look ahead.
    We did that, and you were kind enough to allow it. It’s like we’ve said a thousand times, this is far more your paper than ours. So boss, if it’s OK with you again, we’re going to take what’s a lost week anyways and use it to clean up, look ahead and, oh yeah, do a little Christmas celebrating. 
    What that means is that our offices will be closed the week of Christmas. Actually, we would’ve been closed Monday for Christmas Eve and Tuesday for Christmas, so this only impacts Wednesday to Friday.
    In addition, we’re giving our printer a Christmas break and only publishing our Online Edition that week as well as keeping the website up to date on obituaries and any breaking news. Of course we’ll give our print subscribers credit so that they don’t lose out.
    So, is this just a week for goofing off? As much as I’d like to, we’re going to be getting our heads together and talking about what’s next. I would tell you to expect big changes, but in today’s world, it’d really only be news if we didn’t have big changes, right? Don’t know about you, but it astounds me as to how much things constantly change. 
    0 comment(s)
  • Tuesday, December 4, 2018 4:00 AM
    Ever wonder when you left the sane, normal world we grew up in and landed in some other dimension? A dimension where:
    • A Charlie Brown Christmas is called racist because Franklin, an African-American character in Charles M. Schulz’ famous Peanuts strip, is shown seated on one side of the table by himself (I thought it might be so he could stay away from the dirt off Pigpen).
    • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is flagged as promoting bullying because “all of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names.”
    It doesn’t stop there.
    • The movie is also sexist because Rudolph’s dad tells his mom that she can’t look for the missing reindeer because it’s “man’s work.”
    Wait, we’re not done.
    • There’s advice that we should not have Christmas cookies shaped like Christmas trees with red and green sprinkles because they are not inclusive.
    But want to know the one that gets me the most?
    • It’s not OK to have a holiday party. Seriously! A holiday party! It wasn’t that long ago I learned we can’t have Christmas parties or say Merry Christmas because that was politically incorrect. Now we can’t even have holiday parties because (are you ready for this) not everyone has holidays in December. So the advice is, any parties near the end of this month should be “end of year” parties.
    3 comment(s)
  • Tuesday, November 27, 2018 4:00 AM
    OK, we made it through Thanksgiving Thursday, Black Friday, Sick Saturday and Cyber Monday . . . OK, I made up that Sick Saturday thing. But after everything I ate Thursday, that’s pretty much how I felt.
    Today is Giving Tuesday.
    According to the website www.givingtuesday.org, this is the seventh year focused on charitable contributions. The event “has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy with events throughout the year and a growing catalog of resources.”
    Enter the Montgomery United Fund.
    There are only 34 days left in this year, which means 34 days left to donate to an organization that serves 16 worthy organizations. 
    Look, without sounding too heavy handed here, there’s simply no other organization in Montgomery County that does as much good. That’s not a knock on churches or other fine non-profits and charities. It’s just that the United Fund in Montgomery County reaches thousands of individuals.
    Like who?
    0 comment(s)
  • Tuesday, November 20, 2018 4:00 AM
    We live in crazy times, friends. 
    If I may, I’d like your permission to set aside politics, labels of R’s and D’s, conservatives and liberals and all the rest for just a minute. Why? Because it seems that in today’s world the “facts” depend on whose eyes we look through. So if we could simply consider:
    • Our president – yes, if you are an American he’s yours, too – routinely acts like an arrogant ass in a way no president before has.
    • We The People treat our “friends” and neighbors so badly that hateful name-calling and spiteful back-stabbing are commonplace on social media.
    • The idea that we are “entitled” to things we didn’t work for or legitimately earn is now the norm, not the exception.
    • Along those lines, We The People depend on government to provide for us more than at any time since the Great Depression.
    • Perhaps because of that, trust in our government has reached epic lows.
    • And that may be caused by the fact that too many decisions are made in government as a result of what party is in power and not what’s best for We The People.
    3 comment(s)
  • Tuesday, November 13, 2018 4:00 AM
    It’d been a while since I’d seen my pal John Hammer. Perhaps that’s why he was on my mind Saturday morning. Or maybe it was just a coincidence. Don’t know. All I do know is that I came out of the bathroom and saw him a few feet ahead of me walking toward my office.
    “G’morning, John.”
    He stumbled a bit.
    There are moments in life that provide a pleasant surprise. This was one of them. After all the times he has nearly given me a heart attack, showing up when I least expected it . . . I mean this is John Hammer, for crying out loud. He’s a man bigger than a mountain with hands the size of catcher’s mitts and a voice deeper than the rumble from a ’67 Chevy missing a muffler.
    “’S’matter John,” I smirked. “Scare you?”
    “Nah, just tripped.”
    Figures.
    Whenever the man called the Hammer stops by he usually has something on his mind. This was no exception.
    “Let me ask you a question, Timmons,” he began. “Did you pay attention to this past election?”
    I wasn’t sure if he was being sarcastic or serious.
    0 comment(s)
  • Tuesday, November 6, 2018 4:00 AM
    Notes scribbled on the back of an Ursula Andress blacklight poster . . . 
    We’ve been asked why we did not endorse any candidate this election. One wise-acre asked if we wised up and stopped endorsing. Several of you say you missed it. Still another asked if we were endorsing Trump.
    Ah, so many questions so little time.
    First, to the Trump question. Our clocks fell back an hour Sunday, not two years. As for endorsements, yes, we will continue to offer our thoughts when we feel it’s warranted. I’ve been lucky enough to work for some awfully good newspapers over the decades and most of the good ones do indeed give their opinion on candidates they believe deserving. Why? Well, first off, we are one of the few mediums that people pay to come to their homes so they must at least value some of our opinions . . . and of course that’s all it is, our opinion. Take it or leave it and, like this column says, the value is probably a bit south of the proverbial two cents.
    As to this particular election, we simply don’t feel an endorsement should be made between the candidates. This election – especially at the county level – isn’t about one candidate vs. another. It’s about a direction. Zoning? Wind farms? The candidates have made their positions clear and your vote is more about those issues than anything else.
    We figure that’s about as clear as it gets.
    0 comment(s)
  • Tuesday, October 30, 2018 4:00 AM
    It was a dark and stormy night . . . 
    Always wanted to start a story like that, and today being the eve of all hallows eve seemed like as good a time as any. Plus, we’re more or less on the eve of another election – but with early voting who knows, is there really an Election Day anymore? 
    Beg pardon; I digress.
    As sick as most Hoosiers are of Messrs. Braun and Donnelley, here’s hoping those two clowns don’t keep Montgomery County voters away from the polls. Sure, after watching countless hours of tasteless and classless TV ads, the temptation is to write the entire thing off as hopeless and start a caravan heading somewhere else. The problem is, who wants to go north where it’s colder? We could go east or west but I’m not that great a swimmer. And we can’t go south because Mexico’s immigration policies are pretty tough.
    So if we’re stuck here, we may as well participate in the process and try to make things as good as they can be. Besides, while mid-term elections are often passé, this one has some teeth in it locally. In fact, in honor of Halloween, you might say this election (cue dramatic horror film music) is for the soul of the county!
    Too melodramatic? Yeah, ok.
    1 comment(s)
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