April 24, 2014

All Access Press Club (Subscribers)

Online all-access is free to print subscribers. Username is your account number, 7-digit number before the expiration date on your mailing label. Password is your zip code.

Example of Category Blog layout (FAQs/General category)
Compromise is NOT a dirty word
Written by Erika Schmidt Russell   
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 3:56 PM

Well, well, well, Lawrenceburg (and its environs) certainly is all abuzz over the possible demise of Fall Fest. Of course Fall Fest started out in amid controversy. Let’s turn the clock back to the city’s bicentennial.

There was a mayor and council who couldnt often agree. Then mayor Paul “Truck” Tremain and three members of the city council (AND to make it more interesting - the clerk-treasurer) disagreed on almost everything.

One of the council people back then issued the famous ultimatum “we don’t get our clock, you don’t get your gateway” during down to the wire negotiations for the 2002 municipal development fund budget.

Tremain is gone, and so are two of the council people. Only Millie Hornbach is left of the disagreeing councilpeople. Tom Rowlett and Mick McNimery are still around but not on council. Rowlett would lose to Bill-Bill Bruner, back then a kid under 30; McNimery moved to Greendale a bit later.

Hornbach resigned before her term was up, and Bill Cunningham was appointed to the seat. The 2002 MDF budget, then encompassing all of the city’s riverboat casino revenues, was passed, and both the clock and gateway were part of it obviously. There was plenty of squabbling, but there was also compromise, reluctant, but compromise nonetheless.

Fall Fest, initially to mark the city’s bicentennial in 2002, came out of the mayor and council’s squabbling and that budget. A few years into the festival, I ran into a spot of trouble, personnally, because I said in a column I thought the money could be better spent on something other than a big festival with fancy music acts. I still feel that way.

However, the folks on the committee, many of them the same folks who were on it from the beginning, are GOOD people. Hollywood Casino’s revenue is going down, and council has been trying to pare down expenses.

Meanwhile, here we are with another stand-off between Lawrenceburg council and mayor. The council people and mayor then and now are not bad people. There is room for a compromise, everyone just needs to put their egos aside to do what is best.

Mayor Dennis Carr has put mostly city employees in charge of Fall Fest, and while city employees were always a part of it, there were many more people volunteering and employees going beyond the call of duty. Personally, I think the new marketing director should be watching Hollywood Casino like a hawk, not coordinating all the details of Fall Fest.

When Bruner voices concern that Fall Fest is too big and agrees with Mike Lawrence, that should be a loud wake up call. Bruner said at council he is for continuing Fall Fest, and suggested a scaled back fashion. He talked about the thousands of folks coming into town, and locals who stay away from the festival.

Cook is not opposed to the festival either, but wants the volunteer committee were reinstated.

When people ask why wouldn’t you want 40,000 or 50,000 people coming into your city, here is my answer: are they coming back? How do locals feel? Every spring and summer you have people complaining about “noise” from the Lawrenceburg Speedway, but drive through the parking lot or listen in to conversations and a lot of those folks at the Speedway are at least local.

We had thousands and thousands and thousands of people going to Hollywood (formerly Argosy) Casino for years. Did they come downtown?

So, here is the solution. Put Marie Edwards back in charge. Get the folks back on the committe who were on it before. Scale back the musical acts, do one “younger” act, not a bunch of old rock ‘n’ rollers who are formerly of... some band.

Start slowly scaling back the festival budget, so as the revenue slows the money can be used in other ways. While quitting cold turkey doesn’t always work for smokers, it’s not going to go well with Fall Fest either.

Have the city marketing director involved with Fall Fest and promoting what is planned for the event center, and get Lawrenceburg Main Street more involved with Fall Fest planning as well

And here’s another thought, this one for the merchants, hand out coupons to get people to come back to town. By one get one half off or free are always nice to have. Do the free rides. Make Fall Fest similar to Dillsboro Homecoming or a Farmers Fair, but for Lawrenceburg folks.
There. Am I going to get in trouble again?

Erika Schmidt Russell is editor of The Journal-Press and The Dearborn County Register.

Do as your MOTHER says!
Written by Erika Schmidt Russell   
Monday, March 31, 2014 3:38 PM

Dear Winter,
You know I love you, right? Well I think it is high time you gave up your petulant hold on a very large portion of the United States, and let your sister Spring have her turn.

You had a lot of fun this year, more fun than usual, which is why you really must cease and desist. Winter, dear son of mine, you shut down Atlanta! That’s quite something, and quite humorous, although not to that city’s residents.

You made it snow in Florida and Alabama! Also quite a coup, however references to hell freezing over by certain Yankee-type folks were not appreciated by Alabamans.

You’ve repeatedly closed major airports on the U.S. East Coast, far more times than you usually do. School children actually were tired of having snow days, so it has a been a banner year for you, yet you continue to loiter where you are not wanted.
Washington, D.C. is trying to have its Cherry Blossom Festival, and you’re freezing it out.

It is high time you stop playing with your Polar Vortex and putting it where it is not wanted.
Your conduct is bordering on the rude, my son. I also must remind you what happens when you continue to linger, Spring gets very unhappy. She is my most fickle and difficult child, and like you enjoys havoc, only in the form of thunderstorms, tornadoes and floods. People are not too fond of her either, but they more readily forgive her because she’s warm and can be quite friendly bringing people flowers etc.

However, because you are lingering she’ll try the same thing, and then Summer and Fall will be all out of sorts as well this year. When it becomes your turn again in

December, you may not get as long of a turn, because your brother Fall will want to stick around  as well.
So son, if you don’t start behaving and let Spring have her turn soon, your Father and I will have to do something about it.

Thank you, my dear son.

As always your loving,
Mother Nature

P.S. I know you’re not happy with the humans messing up the overall climate, but this Winter tantrum does not convince them that there is real climate change. With some of them it does quite the opposite because they can’t separate weather from climate. So my son, this is your last chance.
P.P.S Letting Spring sneak in and have a nice day for Reds Opening Day does not count! You’re overly tired and really need to go have a nice nap.

Erika Schmidt Russell is editor of The Journal-Press and The Dearborn County Register.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month
Written by Suzzi Romines   
Friday, March 28, 2014 1:53 PM

Prevent Child Abuse of Dearborn/Ohio Counties, Inc. is hosting, participating, or promoting several events to recognize the importance of child abuse and neglect prevention. In our nation, the basic needs and well-being of our children should be at the top of our lists of what we can all do individually and collectively for brighter futures for everyone. With such a turbulent economy, budget cuts for companies and organizations, many of our families, including children, our future leaders’ lives are being affected.

Prevent Child Abuse recognizes these trying times, but continues to have a strong commitment to the health and well-being of all children. During the month of April, several organizations have planned events to educate parents, kids, professionals and all community members on the importance of abuse prevention. Please plan to attend the following events: Indiana Dept. of child Services and PCA’s “Pinwheels for Prevention Garden Ceremony”, Newtown Park, Lawrenceburg on Tuesday, April 8 at 7:30 p.m. (alternate location/Lawrenceburg Community Center).

Thursday, April 10, DIRECTIONS Rape Crisis Support and Advocacy’s “Take Back the Night,” 5:30 p.m. at the Dearborn Adult Center, Tate St., Lawrenceburg. SIEOC will host their annual child abuse prevention conference: ”Sticks and Stones, The Power of our Words” on Saturday, April 26 from 8 a.m. to  3 p.m. at Ivy Tech Community College/Riverfront campus. Churches around the country will also participate in “Blue Sunday Day of Prayer” on Sunday, April 27 to pray for abuse children and those who rescue them. Please contact each organization for further information and registration.

Prevent Child Abuse will also host their traveling pinwheel display throughout Dearborn and Ohio Counties and work within schools on poster contests among hundreds of students to bring awareness to bullying prevention, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and the neglect of a child’s basic needs.

PCA meets the first Wednesday of the month at the SIEOC office in Aurora from noon to 1 p.m. and all are welcome to attend. If you suspect abuse or neglect, call the Indiana hotline at 1-800-800-5556 or 911 in an emergency.

Suzzi Romines Prevent Child Abuse of Dearborn/Ohio Counties, Inc.

Building an America that Works
Written by Luke Messer   
Monday, March 24, 2014 4:09 PM

I was raised by a single mom who still works at the Delta Faucet factory in Greensburg. Like many Hoosier families, the end of the month wasn’t always easy for us. Sometimes, there were more days left in the month than money in the bank. But, my mom taught my brother and me the value of hard work, the importance of setting goals and never giving up. Because we lived in America, she knew we could accomplish anything we set our minds to.

Sadly, many Americans do not believe that’s the case anymore. A recent Bloomberg Poll found 64-percent of Americans say the U.S. no longer offers everyone an equal chance to get ahead. Some blame the income gap. But, that’s only part of the problem. Our most pressing challenges are shrinking paychecks, a lack of good paying jobs and government overreach.

Despite the President’s rhetoric, he’s not tackling these challenges. Instead, the Obama Administration’s policies are leaving the middle class behind. Last week’s jobs report showed 3.8 million Americans have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more.

The President’s solution is to extend unemployment benefits. This may help a few people temporarily. But, instead of focusing on economy growing, job creating solutions, the President wants us to accept a stagnant economy and higher unemployment as the “new normal.”

House Republicans reject this idea, and we are working to do something about it. The House has passed dozens of bills that would help the unemployed find work and spur economic growth.

Most of these bills continue to languish in the U.S. Senate under the threat of a Presidential veto.
Spiking energy costs have hit many Hoosier families in the pocketbook and at the gas pump.

That’s why the House passed the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act, and the Northern Route Approval Act.

Both bills promote America’s energy independence and create tens of thousands of jobs. March 12th marked 2,000 days since the first permit for the Keystone XL pipeline project was submitted for approval.

Currently, 24 applications for U.S. exports of natural gas are sitting at the U.S Department of Energy waiting for a green light. These delays increase domestic energy costs and shrink paychecks.

Equally troubling, this Administration’s regulatory policies are drowning small businesses in red tape. Last week, the House passed 14 bills to eliminate or reform burdensome laws and regulations and increase government transparency. The estimated cost of federal regulations in the U.S. is $1.806 trillion annually.

That’s 11.6 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. These excessive regulations waste taxpayer dollars and create unnecessary hurdles to economic growth and job creation.

Worse yet, the President’s health care law is a job killing disaster. Some Hoosiers are seeing their work hours cut and many are facing skyrocketing health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs. The Congressional Budget Office predicts the Affordable Care Act will shrink the workforce by the equivalent of 2.5 million jobs by 2024.

It’s time for the President to stop circumventing Congress and making piecemeal changes to the law. This uncertainty is making it harder for employers to hire new workers and keep the ones they have. We need to go line by line through the President’s health care law and get rid of the failures that are hurting the economy and holding back real progress toward making health care more affordable.

It’s time to get Washington out of the way at the doctor’s office, in the job market and at the gas pump. We need real reforms that will truly help Americans, like my mom, who are working hard every day to make ends meet.

Luke Messer, R-Shelbyville, is Indiana’s Sixth District Congressional Representative. The district includes Dearborn and Ohio counties.

Successful session comes to a close
Written by Randy Frye   
Monday, March 17, 2014 4:29 PM

Leadership is about setting a vision and benchmarking goals. I was pleased that the House Republican caucus set the right tone for this session and successfully accomplished our goals that we laid out in January. We set our sights on the business personal property tax, funding for roads, bridging the skills gap, preschool education and reducing government regulation.

With the business personal property tax, Indiana is an outlier on this issue, having the highest business personal property tax rate in the Midwest.

We also recognized however that simply removing the tax could have serious consequences to some of our local governments. That’s why we proposed giving counties options to eliminate the business personal property tax on new investments.

The bill that passed includes other tax reforms like phasing down the corporate income and financial institution tax rates to 4.9 percent; the state’s corporate income tax rate would be the second lowest in the country once fully phased in.

All of these reforms are meant to give counties more options to attract businesses and jobs to their community.
Being business-friendly is not just about taxes though, it’s also having a very closely connected infrastructure system that is highly functional. In Indiana, 1.7 million jobs depend on transportation in industries such as tourism, retail sales and agriculture.

That’s why the House passed House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1002 to provide up to $400 million in additional funding for state highway construction projects. Our state’s focus on fiscal integrity allowed us to prudently allocate these additional funds now, supporting thousands of Hoosier jobs.
Structure is only the first step when it comes to job creation – a workforce is also key. More than 930,000 Hoosiers lack the most basic job skills needed for today’s economy.

HEA 1003 provides additional incentives to employers who partner with education institutions to provide internships in high wage, high demand jobs.  
Many Hoosier corporations have noted that a strong educational start helps in addressing future educational needs.

Children who aren’t ready for kindergarten are half as likely to read proficiently by third grade, and children who aren’t reading proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school.

This is a problem in Indiana because we are one of only 10 states without a state-funded preschool education system. This makes it extremely challenging, and often impossible, for Hoosier families that are facing hard times to send their children to preschool. We championed HEA 1004 which creates a pilot preschool program.

The program will be limited to families who earn 127 percent of the poverty level or less, and children in the program must attend a high-quality preschool. Thanks to this innovative solution, more Hoosier children will have access to quality preschool education than ever before.

While it is important for the legislature to pass new laws and statutes dealing with current problems, we sometimes neglect another important responsibility of the legislature – to review duplicative code and unnecessary government restrictions that may have been enacted previously. HEA 1005 addresses this by removing duplicative code and works to alleviate Hoosier citizens and businesses from burdensome regulations.

This session has been one of tremendous success, and I look forward to building upon this progress next session. I appreciate all of your feedback and contact on many of these issues, and I look forward to being back in our district during the interim.

Randy Frye, R-Greensburg, represents Ohio and Switzerland counties, as well as portions of Ripley, Decatur, Jennings, Jefferson and Dearborn counties.