Written by B.J. Ault
Wednesday, October 01, 2014 4:14 PM
Halloween doesn’t have to be scary. It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, nor does it have to end with a sugar overload for the little ones.
Here are five tips to help you Go Green this Halloween. A little pre-planning can result in healthier alternatives, eco-friendly choices and money-saving ideas.
1) Costumes are a good way to start going green. According to Robert Lilienfeld, author of Use Less Stuff, 25 million American children don costumes to go Trick-or-Treating each year. That’s potentially 12,500 tons of waste and that’s only the children’s costumes.
What to do? If you choose to purchase a costume, make sure it is well constructed of high quality materials so that it can be worn for multiple events. Instead of buying one that is intended for one-time use only, make your own from recyclable materials. Pinterest has some really cute ideas for costumes that start with a cardboard box. Some of the most creative were a pizza and a fish tank. Go to the local thrift store and look for pieces that could be used to put together a costume. Many a bride or princess has found their gowns there. Add a cape and some duct tape to a sweatshirt for a favorite super hero. Stretch your imagination to come up with a one-of-a-kind costume (like your interpretation of the oogley, googley monster) and save money.
October 11 is National Costume Swap Day. It’s also the opening weekend of the Recycling Center’s Annual Costume Swap. If last year’s costume is in wearable condition, consider bringing it to the Recycling Center to exchange. (Additional details at www.DearbornCountyRecycles.com or call 1-812-926-9963.)
2) Trick-or-Treat bags are often quite wasteful and can easily be replaced with a greener option. The bags should be sturdy enough to last the night and again next year.
What to Do? Decorate an old pillowcase with fabric paint to coordinate with the costume or have your child use permanent markers and stickers to decorate a clean pail. Ready to go but without a bag to gather the treats? You could always grab one of your reusable shopping bags.
3) Decorations are another easy way to go green. Reuse last year’s decorations. Rummage the thrift shops to see what someone decided to pass along. Best option: skip the cheap plastic department store decorations and be inspired by nature.
What to Do? Pumpkins and gourds look nice displayed with fall leaves or berries. Paint the pumpkins rather than carve them this year. They will last longer and can be cooked up afterwards. If you prefer carving them, be sure to save the seeds for roasting or planting next year. A shock of corn stalks can be tied with twine to an outside post or ears of Indian corn can be tied with a pretty ribbon for a centerpiece. (Be sure to compost the pumpkins and corn when the season is over!) It just takes an old flannel shirt and pair of worn-out jeans to make a scarecrow to guard against things that go bump in the night.
4) Choose alternatives to candy treats. The average child gets 10 pounds of candy from Trick-or-Treating. While much of this is wasted, the unsupervised child will eat more than he/she should. Some dentists have offered “buy-back” programs, trading sugar-laden snacks for books.
What to Do? Make a statement by what you don’t buy this year. Skip the aisles of miniature-size candy bars. Instead of the handful of candy pieces you gave last year, decide on one thing this year. Depending on how many visitors you have, you can choose from pencils, erasers, soy crayons, stickers, temporary tattoos, or coins. If you only have a few beggars, you might choose from sun catchers, jump ropes, movie passes, journals, or art supplies. Fruit is frowned upon but all natural fruit snacks are acceptable, as are boxes of raisins or bags of nuts.
5) Trick-or-Treating can be full of travel, depending on where you live or where you frequent. While parents need to keep an eye on their children at all times, it does not necessitate climbing in and out of a vehicle. Walking is a good family activity. Be sure that the costume does not compromise the view of the little ones nor hinder their walking.
What to Do? If you drive to town, park in a central location and walk from door-to-door. Consider helping to organize a trunk-or-treat location or throwing a block party. Participate in reverse trick-or-treating, where proceeds go to a charitable cause.
With a little pre-planning and a lot of imagination, you can Go Green this Halloween. Think outside the usual candy bag. Take a stand and buy less. Choose healthy, eco-friendly alternatives for everything from decorations to treats. Check out www.greenhalloween.org for more ideas. Be safe and enjoy the season!
B.J. Ault is director of the Dearborn County Solid Waste
Written by Submitted
Tuesday, September 02, 2014 3:33 PM
The past month I have spent considerable time working with various regional planning groups.
The entire county is looking towards its economic future and doing everything it can to lay a solid foundation for growth.
I’ve also attended two conferences over the last two weeks which both directly and indirectly dealt with two of the largest issues facing rural economic growth.
Workforce development and young talent retention are problems throughout the Midwest and problems that myself and the entire Chamber of Commerce are working diligently to address. One small but exciting program aimed at youth talent retention that we are proud supporters of is the Maverick Challenge.
The Maverick Challenge is a business plan competition open to Dearborn County high school students locally and culminates in a region wide finals in the Spring.
The Maverick Challenge was started in 2008 by the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce in Columbus, Indiana. The competition is meant to shine a light on the possibilities and resources avaialable to local entrepreneurs.
The process of writing the business plan teaches the students how to plan and execute starting their own business. From idea generation to financial projections to financing, the participants are immersed in the process of a start-up. The students spend the next few months creating a full business plan, including financial projections, and pitch it to a panel of judges acting as potential investors.
The competition has a local component, and the winners move on to a regional competition held in Columbus where the winners have the possibility of taking home thousands of dollars. Last year a total of $3500 was awarded to three South Dearborn High School students.
The program here in Dearborn County is being spearheaded by the great folks at AIM/Young Professionals of Dearborn County. They held a kickoff event at Lawrenceburg High School on August 21st and will be continuing to promote the event and encourage participation around the county up til the Challenge starts in the third week of September.
I strongly encourage parents to learn as much about this program as they can and encourage their kids to participate. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to call the Dearborn County Chamber of Commerce at 812-537-0814 and we will get you all the information you need. You can also register online at http://www.maverickchallenge.com/ through September 19. That website also contains more specific and detailed information.
The reason the Chamber is such a strong and vocal supporter of this program is that it helps to continue building the narrative that Dearborn County is a place of opportunity. By participating in the Maverick Challenge the students hear from successful, intelligent and enthusiastic professionals in a number of different occupations.
The program puts the kids in front of bankers, attorneys, insurance agents, utility company representatives, elected officials and successful entrepreneurs to help build the knowledge base and give the kids all the tools they need to complete the Challenge.
They also have access to the great no-cost business consultants at the Indiana Small Business Development Center throughout the process.
We are working on the premise born out by multiple studies over the past few years that millennials (the generation of kids currently graduating high school and college) are most concerned with Place.
Many of us probably looked to live wherever we thought the best financial opportunities could be found (that’s certainly why I moved to Boston from Milwaukee in 2006) and found a neighborhood to live in after.
Young professionals today are far more concerned about the quality of life and the quality of place when looking to start their careers. This presents an advantage for a county like ours which offers good schools, suburban and/or rural housing and easy access to two large metropolitan centers in Indianapolis and Cincinnati.
This is part of the story that we as Dearborn County residents need to be telling. This county has a lot of strengths and opportunities to build on, and we need to be letting our kids know it.
Brain drain (the loss of intelligent and motivate graduates to larger communities) has a significant impact on rural counties and that impact will just continue to grow as baby boomers age out of the workforce and we are left without talent to replace them.
By letting the most motivated and talented kids know that there are opportunities and resources here in Dearborn County and that they can achieve success here, we can hopefully combat a bit of that and strengthen our local economy with homegrown talent.
Eric Kranz is the Executive Director of the Dearborn County Chamber of Commerce. He previously worked as a small business consultant assisting business owners throughout Southeast Indiana. He holds a BS in business administration from Marquette University and an MBA from Boston University. Eric has lived in Dearborn County since 2009.
Written by Doris Butt
Tuesday, August 26, 2014 1:06 PM
Editor’s Note: With the recent videos circulating on Facebook and other social media about the ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease, ice water challenge, Doris Butt recalls a friend who had the disease. Butt regularly contributes a column to Register Publications’ Over 50 paper, and is a retired Central Elementary School teacher. This column was written for Over 50 in October 2008, and Butt was in Florida at the time.
It is 4:55 p.m. and we are ready to eat. There is no sign of Dick. Everyone sits down at a table and it gets quiet. We do not know what to expect. Maybe he is too tired and is not going to make it.
Dick called to say he is coming to Inverness for a week to visit with his friends. He said he planned be at our club soup supper.
He lived in our mobile home park and used his many skills to help anyone that needed assistance. He had a special passion for helping the homeless, especially those that lived in the woods outside of town. He called them “his gals and guys.” He kept supplies in his truck in case he met someone in need. I heard him say many times, “Whoever needs food, I give it to them. If I have anything they need, I give it to them. I don’t care who they are.” Dick gave unconditionally.
Then Dick told us, “Something is the matter with me.” He did not even have enough strength to drive a nail. He went to several doctors and three times he took painful tests. I remember his words. “They jab a needle in this far. (two inches). It doesn’t hurt going in, but when they wiggle it around…boy. They did that to every muscle in your body, even under my tongue. They give you those little electric shocks too; they sure make your feet fly up.” We were all saddened, to say the least, when the diagnosis came. He had Lou Gehrig’s (ALS) disease. It leads to total helplessness.
His reaction, “I said to Doc, I don’t have a problem with that. I have lived a good life. If I got it, I got it. I’ve got to go home (New York).
When I can’t help myself, I will get someone to come in and take care of me. I’ll need help.”
Dick, now 73, left last year when he could no longer drive his truck. Soon afterwards his wife died. Some commented she would not have to see him suffer. We recently learned now has full time care. Even though we know Dick is a man of great determination, we wonder how he would manage the trip.
At exactly 5 o’clock Dick opens the clubhouse door. We all are taken back. He is thin and his arms hang limply at his side. His head tilts forward. He gives a broad smile and says, “I made it.” Many blink back tears as he goes from table to tables to receive hugs and handshakes. He introduces his caretakers, Shirley and her daughter Linda. Somewhere he had seen Shirley, an old friend, and asked her to come to take care of him. She did. Now she is his nighttime and morning helper.
Dick sits the table with Ray and me. He patiently sips his tomato soup with a straw. Fortunately, someone had brought a chocolate pudding which Linda feeds to him. He tells of losing 50 pounds and I realized that is why he looks so frail. We have a most lively conversation. I notice when he clasps his hands and gives them a big sling he can tend to his nose which constantly runs. Shirley says he has a machine that could help that but he has not given in to machines yet.
Dick shares that he does not have any pain. He announces the best news is that he could still dance. (His legs are strong yet.) He has Linda, his pretty helper, stand. Then she helps him put his arms around her waist and they do a few steps. His weak arms slip down around her hips. He laughs and said, “It all ain’t bad.”
Later my husband Ray has an unforgettable moment with Dick when he comes to visit with his friends from when he volunteered on our Rails and Trails Park. Ray is there volunteering on a fence building project. It is a chilly day so Ray buttons his shirt for him. As he is filling around a fence post, Dick asks for a shovel. Ray places his in his hands drooping below his waist; Dick pushes it in the dirt, and then gives it a kick with his foot. He laughs and says, “Now I have helped you,” Tears flowed for their good friend.
I am sure he found ways to help the homeless while he was here. I do know that he is welcomed at the church which provided much of his food for his homeless. There Linda fed him communion.
Dick has a safe flight home. Soon he must have a feeding tube and a breathing tube before he gets too weak. I am sure, as the disease grips him, he will have many pleasant memories of his visit back to Inverness.
My thoughts of Dick bring tears to my eyes. At first, I think they are for him, but now I am not so sure. Maybe they are for me. Maybe I have tears of frustration What about me? Am I challenging myself? I must seek out some of Dick’s determination in me. I am wasting so much of myself.
Dick lived two more years.
Doris Butt is a retired teacher, and splits her time between Indiana and Florida.
Written by Bill Stanczykiewicz
Thursday, August 14, 2014 9:22 AM
The recent death of actor and comedian Robin Williams sheds lights on an often silent struggle with depression that many face. It’s a battle many Indiana teens fight, as well. In fact, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for young Hoosiers between the ages of 15 and 24. Indiana also has the nation’s highest rate of students who have contemplated suicide and the country’s second highest rate of high school students who have attempted suicide. Please consider running an updated version of the op-ed column on suicide prevention by the Indiana Youth Institute (below) to build awareness about this difficult and complex topic.
Terre Haute native Tommy John understands all too well how the pain of depression can lead a talented entertainer like Robin Williams to commit suicide.
Like Williams, John achieved national fame, posting 288 victories as a major league baseball pitcher. But one opponent was too strong to overcome: his son's mental illness, which remains a prevalent challenge for Indiana youth.
Taylor John, whose theater credits included appearing on Broadway as Gavroche in "Les Miserables," ended his life four years ago by overdosing on prescription drugs. He was 28 years old.
"He was a very talented, outgoing, funny young man (who would) laugh and sing," Tommy John recalled. "He had the most beautiful voice. Perfect pitch."
And Taylor also had mental illness. His dad described him as "obsessive compulsive," and "then he was diagnosed as being bipolar, manic depressive. He was diagnosed when he was in his twenties. When he was younger, we had no idea."
The lack of diagnosis and treatment earlier in Taylor's life is all too common in Indiana. Nearly 20 percent of Hoosier youth have mental health needs. However, half of those children between the ages of 0-5, and one-third of those youth between the ages of 12-17, do not receive professional care for their mental health challenges.
Not coincidentally, Indiana has the nation's highest rate of students who have contemplated suicide (19 percent) and the country's second highest rate of high school students who have attempted suicide (11 percent). Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Hoosiers between the ages of 15-24.
Young people with mental illness are more likely to engage in risky behaviors and struggle with school or work. While feelings of sadness are normal, persistent sadness – lasting two weeks or more – can be a sign of depression which, if left untreated, may lead to suicidal thoughts or behavior.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stressful life events can increase the possibility of suicide. Examples include the death of a loved one, a relationship breakup, financial insecurity, school difficulties or a violent family environment. In addition, youth who identify as homosexual, bisexual or transgender are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers.
Bob Coles, vice president of clinical services for Meridian Services, a statewide mental health care provider based in Muncie, alerts parents, educators and youth workers to watch for warning signs of mental illness and suicidal tendencies. The list includes changes in behavior or attitude such as a child who becomes moody, angry or withdrawn. Other potential indicators include changes in appetite or sleeping habits, a decline in spending time with friends and a loss of interest in hobbies or other favorite activities.
"Be aware of those kinds of changes, and then talk with your child about what is going on," Coles advised. "If you feel like these are behaviors that are significant, or if the behaviors are persistent, then it's a good idea to get (professional) help."
If the situation is urgent, call 911 or take your child to the hospital emergency room. Assistance also is available on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK.
Coles explained that doctors are improving their ability to detect and treat mental illness. "Health care professionals are being educated to look for emotional factors that may be tied to the physical problem that is going on. They then are incorporating additional help such as (mental health) counseling into the medical care."
Coles emphasized that families should not feel ashamed or stigmatized if they suspect that their child has a mental illness
Tommy John, meanwhile, encouraged families to be informed and be proactive. "If you can get as much information as you can about what to look for and what to do, then you can get your child (proper care)," John said.
Detecting mental illness in children and youth and providing them with prompt medical care can help those kids survive one day at a time. Or as Gavroche and the cast of "Les Miserables" sing so well, "One more dawn. One more day. One day more."
Bill Stanczykiewicz is President & CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and @_billstan
Last Updated on Thursday, August 14, 2014 9:27 AM