September 17, 2014

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Opinion
Good news for Rising Star Casino in 2014
Written by Steven Jimenez   
Wednesday, September 03, 2014 4:58 PM

Editor,
I would like to let you and your readers know some good news about the Rising Star Casino & Resort which tends to be overlooked especially in the face of increased competition from Ohio. For example, this summer has turned out very well; exceeding our expectations which we think deserves recognition.       
The new hotel addition has increased our availability by 50 percent while still maintaining strong summer occupancy of nearly 90 percent. Certainly, this has contributed to increased gaming revenue which has proportionately declined less year over year than some other area casinos.
We also must remember the unusually tough and long winter that thwarted our true potential. The property is back on track now as evidenced by our performance in July and August
But, we are most proud of our employees who have continually done exceptionally well on delivering our guest satisfaction standards such as in July with a score of 98 percent. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank the Rising Star team for their hard work and dedication to great customer service.
The Rising Star Casino & Resort continues to provide a great attraction and economic engine for the area and we hope that all the members of the community appreciate what we do and  endeavor to be supportive and positive about our future together.

Steven Jimenez
General Manager

 
Calling all Maverick millennials
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.

 
Remembering a friend’s life with ALS
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.

 
ACLU: Police over militarization a growing problem
Written by Jane Henegar   
Wednesday, August 20, 2014 4:38 PM

Editor,
Events in Ferguson, Mo. have tragically but necessarily touched off much needed debates about racial injustice, police tactics and the increasing militarization of local police departments.

The Indianapolis Star has reported that eight counties in Indiana have acquired MRAPS, large and intimidating Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles.

Police and sheriffs’ departments across the state now own thousands of military items obtained from surplus at very little cost, creating a “police industrial complex.” The militarization of police departments that we’re witnessing in Missouri is also happening in Indiana.

We understand that law enforcement has a challenging job, but we feel the presence of military machinery in our neighborhoods is alarming. In June, the American Civil Liberties Union released a report intended to provide details on this little-understood phenomenon.

The report, War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing, includes analysis of thousands of documents obtained through public records requests from police departments around the country.

The requests focused on more than 800 SWAT raids conducted by law enforcement agencies and on the acquisition of military weaponry, vehicles and equipment that may be ill-suited to basic police work.

The report also includes the ACLU’s recommendations to federal, state and local governments, including reining in incentives for police to militarize; tracking the use of SWAT and the guns, tanks, and other military equipment that end up in police hands; and developing criteria for SWAT raids that limit their deployment to the kinds of emergencies for which they were intended, such as an active shooter situation.

Law enforcement work must be done in an atmosphere that protects both our safety and our rights and freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

We urge law enforcement leaders to be transparent about the acquisition and intended use of military surplus and to inform the public about the training officers will receive.

Further, we urge restraint so that the use of this intimidating equipment does not alienate communities or discourage residents from exercising their constitutionally-protected rights of free speech and assembly.

We urge the public to read the report and contact your local officials about the potential risks to your community. The report is available at www.aclu.org/militarization.

Jane Henegar
Executive Director
ACLU of Indiana

 
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