September 2, 2014

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Columns
Remembering a friend’s life with ALS PDF Print E-mail
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.

 
Mental health and suicide PDF Print E-mail
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 iyi@iyi.org and @_billstan

Last Updated on Thursday, August 14, 2014 9:27 AM
 
Troubling questions about county government PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chris Mueller   
Wednesday, August 13, 2014 4:22 PM

In recent years I have had some troubling questions about Dearborn County government.

Questions like:
*What do you do when you can’t get information from your local government?
*What do you do when you find out that only certain people were invited to bid on a government project?
*What happens if costly government projects are broken up into smaller pieces so that the public does not get to vote on it?
*Is the judicial branch in charge of the government?
*Can County Council stop Commissioners from spending on a project?
*When are rules governing majority vote properly changed?
*What happens when judges or prosecutors make mistakes?
*What if you ask a question at a public meeting about a process or expenditure and get no answer?
*Should all public meetings be recorded?
*Does an attorney for county boards receive any special training on laws specific to government process?

After covering county meetings for almost 20 years, I know that there are three guiding principles of good government. When things start running amok I can usually trace the problem back to one or more of these being violated.

The first is the Open Door Law or the Sunshine Law. The second is Conflict of Interest. The third is the System of Checks and Balances between the branches of government.

This year I saw evidence of the Dearborn County Redevelopment Commission (DCRC) violating all three principles.

When some government officials and the local paper attempted to contain and correct the DCRC, others tried to cover up and obstruct. The board circled the wagons and protected the violators, rather than opening the door and protecting the citizens of the county. The county commissioners via their attorney proposed a three page form to be filled out in order to access public records.

After the Public Access Counselor ruled against the DCRC, the DCRC attorney suggested that they have everyone who attends their meetings sign in. Was this to protect the board from complaints? One of the DCRC answers to the newspaper’s complaint was that it was over the 30 day time limit to complain about the violations. So if they can prove you were at the meeting and did not complain in time, then they are off the hook? Lawyers are great at defensive strategy like that. But it does not change the fact that they violated. Getting the board off on a technicality does not protect the citizens of the county.

The newspaper article regarding the complaint filed by their assistant editor with the Public Access Counselor shows not one or two violations but a clear and persistent pattern of them.

After someone has held a job for a year or two they should know the rules of government, particularly when they are hired as the county administrator. And the same is true for the lawyers serving as advisors to county boards.

There should be a refresher course for boards and their attorneys on the Open Door Law. In the meantime there are officials, such as the county auditor, well-versed in these regulations for them to have as a resource.

The final straw while wading through this Open Door obstacle course came at the DCRC’s regular meeting in July when I asked (twice) when exactly did this board decide on the retroactive pay  for Terri Randall? I received no answer other than a “belief” from the former Chairman of the Board that he’s sure they must have done it in one of the meetings they did not have minutes for- just after they started meeting at the county administration building over a year ago. This belief was not supported by any other member at that July meeting or by any other county commissioner or council minutes or emails.

This brings us to two other issues with my guiding principles. The checks and balances don’t work because the commissioners are sharing their administrator with the DCRC board. Her salary is being paid by both commissioners and DCRC, thus giving the appearance of a conflict of interest. Which board is she serving? Who checks on whom?

I have been told over the years by officials that it is hard to see your own conflicts of interest, because when you are in power, you think you can handle issues and be fair. If any board needs to be watched closely, it is the DCRC. They are in charge of bringing economic development to the county. They spend a large amount of our money including grants to attract business- $4.7 million in incentives for the latest business. They cut the tax revenue to our schools by rerouting it through the TIF (tax incremental financing) districts for these businesses. Good schools are key to getting and keeping jobs. Who will be making up for the shifting tax revenue?

DCRC has more closed door executive sessions than any board in the county. They should be watching out for the good of the citizens. Instead they seem to be more worried about getting around whoever is watching them.

Christine Brauer Mueller of Lawrenceburg Township is a writer for the Dearborn County Public Forum www.dearborncounty.blogspot.com and has attended county meetings since 1995.

 
Redefining marriage not about equality, but redefining sin PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Rahe   
Monday, July 21, 2014 4:20 PM

Editor,
Brian Howey’s opinion about redefining marriage should not go unchallenged. It is not an issue of equality, but a campaign (some say a devil inspired campaign) to redefme marriage.

I believe it is preposterous to use the 14th Amendment, Section 1 to defend the redefining of marriage. Do you really believe that the people who supported and voted for that amendment had any idea that it would be twisted to redefine God’s definition of marriage?

Which holy book of any major religion that believes in a creator teaches that homosexual behavior is not a sin. It’s always referred to as bad behavior or an abomination.

Who believes that murder, theft, rape, and other bad behaviors deserve the status that good behavior has under the law? While it is true that some theologians believe their god gave them the right to rewrite the Bible or other holy book to accommodate their personal feelings, most religious people oppose that kind of arrogance.

The Hand of Providence that most of our founding fathers referred to was the Hand of the Christian God.

The values and virtues taught to us by the God of the Bible are the base degrees by which this country became great in the eyes of world. Many are now scorning those base degrees. The loss of greatness that America is now experiencing parallels the decline in morality so prevalent today. That includes the attitude toward homosexual behavior.

Yes, respect for Christianity and its teachings is declining just as respect for our country is declining. We never were and never should be a theocracy, but the relationship between our government and the Christian religion as our standard of values is imperative for our survival as a healthy nation.

Many major newspapers, electronic news agencies, and Hollywood celebrities have become mouthpieces to support the redefining of marriage. The enemy of God has also won over many federal judges. Who came up with the idea that the founding documents of this nation inform us that among the unalienable rights endowed to us by our Creator is the right to defy the teachings of our Creator?

Recently in Utah two federal judges ruled that the state’s ban on polygamy was unconstitutional. In North Dakota a man who is a partner in a “same sex marriage” in a state where that is legal has been granted a license to marry a female in a traditional marriage in North Dakota where “same sex marriages” are illegal. Is this man a bigamist or a polygamist and will a federal judge rule that a ban on this arrangement is unconstitutional?

In Massachusetts three females are in one relationship they call a “marriage.” In Georgia five people (three males and two females) are in such a relationship.

Representing a small percentage of the population, the homosexual lobby and its many influential mouthpieces have been trying to convince us that redefining marriage will have no negative effects on the social structure of our nation.

The examples cited above make it perfectly clear that it is dramatically destructive to society. Most people know that the traditional family is the essential foundation for any healthy society.

The great mouthpieces are trying to convince everyone that the only talented people in the workforce are homosexuals and their demands must be met.

The homosexual lobby is following a familiar pattern. First they plead for tolerance; then they insist on equality; and finally they want dominance. They are forcing the resignations of organizational leaders who in any way support God’s definition of marriage.

They wage campaigns to stigmatize and try to damage the reputations of influential people who dare to state an opposing view. The great mouthpieces demand that Biblical points of view be stricken from any public forum.

Is it you, me, or God? Who defines morality? Who defines marriage?

God’s Word is trying to warn us. In Lev. 18:22,24; 20:13; I Cor. 6:9-20; and 1 Tim. 1 : 10 we are warned that homosexual behavior is an abomination. In Romans 1 we learn in verse 22 “While claiming to be wise, they became fools.” In verse 25 we read “These people have exchanged God’s truth for a lie.” Verses 26, 27, and 28 reveal to us “For this reason God allowed their shameful passions to control them. Their women have exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. Likewise their men have given up natural sexual relations with women and bum with lusts for each other. And because they thought it was worthless to acknowledge God, God allowed their indecent minds to control them. So they do these indecent things.”
“The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men.” (Psalm 12: 8)

Christians know that it is right to love the sinner, but that does not mean condoning the sin. Condoning sin is also a sin. America needs to be reawakened to the truth before God decides that our hardened hearts will condemn us because we adamantly refuse to acknowledge Him and the truth of His Holy Word.

John A. Rahe
Aurora, Ind

 
Marketing is vital to growing new business PDF Print E-mail
Written by Eric Kranz   
Wednesday, July 16, 2014 4:23 PM

One of the most challenging questions for entrepreneurs to answer is “how much and where should I spend on marketing?”
As businesses get started they tend to favor focusing their time and capital into improving the physical space the business will occupy, getting the latest and greatest technology to be ahead of the

competition, hiring more people than is probably necessary and over stocking on inventory.
Often times I will look at how a business owner’s plans to use their start-up capital, see nothing (or a tiny fraction) for marketing, and ask how they plan to bring people in to their establishment.

“Word of mouth! Facebook! Word of mouth!”

Those are the stock answers. While they can be incredibly important for many businesses, it’s rarely enough especially as you first start out.

The answers to the questions of how much to spend and where will be different for every company, every industry and every situation but in general you want to spend as much as you can early, and back it down over time into a more targeted approach.

The simpler answer is “how much.” There is no magic formula for determining how much you should be spending on advertising (though you can look at industry analysis to see what your competitors are spending, generally displayed as a percentage of annual revenue) but if you are running a young  business, reinvesting your profits into building awareness is a fantastic use of capital.

Base your marketing spending on what you can afford, but make sure you are budgeting some funds annually to grow your customer base.

Ultimately however, the key to effectively growing your business is not just in how much you are spending, but how efficiently.  Social media and word of mouth are alluring answers not only because they are free, but also because they can be incredibly effective and if done right, can be the most efficient marketing you’ll ever do.

However, it’s rarely the be all and end all, especially when you are trying to grow. In a few weeks I will dedicate a column to social media basics and another to effectively using word of mouth advertising but for now, let’s look at the traditional marketing.

No matter how you choose to market your business there are two things you should always remember: make it actionable and make it track-able.  

By actionable I mean always include a call to action for your potential customers. “Call today for more info” “click here to contact us” “register now for 20% off” etc. Passive advertising meant to build brand awareness and brand loyalty is great when you are established but is less effective when growing from nothing.

In everything you do be it on the radio, in the newspaper, on a billboard or on the internet always include a call to action if you are trying to grow. Adding some sense of urgency by giving discounts, setting deadlines or making exclusive offers is a great way to increase the effectiveness of those calls to action.

Another way to make them more impactful is to make sure that what you are asking the customer to do is beneficial to them. If your call to action is “like us on Facebook” don’t expect great results.

While you should be soliciting those social media connections, it shouldn’t be the only actionable part of your messaging.

The second key is to make all of your marketing efforts track-able…and make sure you actually track the results!

As a growing business, it is very likely that your marketing budget is not unlimited.

Therefore efficiency is important. You need to have a very good sense of what is working and what isn’t working.

Don’t be afraid to kill what isn’t working. Remember, efficiency is key! As you get started, try a number of different avenues for reaching your audience.

Try the radio, try local papers, try regional papers, try web advertising, etc. and as you do make sure that you can track where new business is coming from so you know if any of them are successful.

If you are running an ad campaign in a number of different media outlets, make sure you have a way to tell if you are getting any business as a result.

The simplest way to do this is to ask! “Hey, how did you hear about us” is a great way to engage with your customers and solves the tracking problem for you…as long as you keep records of the responses!

You can also try using coupon codes or have a specific offer running on each form of media, then track which offer is getting the most interest.

After a few months (or weeks, depending on industry) analyze the results of the tracking. If the billboard generated no business, kill it. If the web advertising resulted in a spike, increase it. The only way to ensure you are marketing your business efficiently is to make sure you are tracking results.

Take a look at all of your promotions. Are they actionable? Are they track-able? If not, find a way to tweak them so they are.

It’s a simple way to make sure you are spending your limited marketing budget as effectively and efficiently as possible.

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.