Editorial Roundup: Indiana

 
 
Updated 6/8/2021 1:00 PM

Terre Haute Tribune-Star. June 4, 2021.

Editorial: Coming up short on air base still a win for Hulman Field

 

Every competition inherently involves winning and losing. The U.S. Air Force has chosen a site in Arkansas to establish a multi-national training base for F-35 fighter jets, instead of Terre Haute Regional Airport Hulman Field.

Certainly, the decision feels like a loss for Terre Haute. Hulman Field was one of five finalists competing for the base, which is expected to deliver an economic impact of $800 million to $1 billion to the chosen site - Ebbing Air National Guard Base in Fort Smith, Arkansas, according to a Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce estimate cited by the Fort Smith Times Record.

Obviously, the Fort Smith community and the state of Arkansas will experience a significant victory for decades to come, as a result.

Still, Terre Haute can turn this apparent loss into a win by addressing whatever shortcomings the Air Force spotted in the local airport, and by capitalizing on its placement among the finalist sites.

The prize is an international training center for U.S. allies that will house the Republic of Singapore's F-16 squadron - currently located in Arizona - and the F-35s, a fifth-generation stealth fighter jet, at a single base. Singapore, an island nation between Indonesia and Malaysia, is geographically too small to host its own base. So, about one-fourth of Singapore's combat aircraft are stationed abroad, and its pilots routinely train in the U.S.

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International pilots and support personnel would train at the new base, with up to 36 F-35s at that site, the Detroit News reported. The participating nations - Singapore, Poland, Finland and Switzerland - also would buy aircraft from the U.S. military.

Hulman Field and its virtues received notoriety throughout the selection process, which first made news last July. It competed with four other airfields - Ebbing in Fort Smith; Buckley Air Force Base near Aurora, Colorado; the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas; and Selfridge Air National Guard Base in the Detroit region. Each of those facilities holds a significant military background. Being a finalist alongside those others, validates the Terre Haute airport's own military legacy and capability.

Terre Haute Regional Airport began its military aircraft link in 1954, when the Indiana Air National Guard established the 113th Tactical Fighter Squadron - a branch of the 181st Tactical Fighter Group. A broad assortment of military aircraft were housed at the airport for decades. In the mid-2000s, the F-16 jets left Terre Haute and the facility transformed into the 181st Intelligence Wing.

Hulman Field features a 9,020-foot runway, Indiana's fourth-longest, and another 7,200-foot runway. Both can be extended by 1,000 feet, the Tribune-Star's Howard Greninger reported.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Those distinctive assets, and upgrades during the past decade, helped place Terre Haute among the five finalists. The pluses can also lead to future aircraft-related economic development.

'I think we are on the map now and more people know what Terre Haute has to offer,' airport board member Rick Burger told Greninger Friday. 'Yes, it is disappointing, but yet I know there is so much more potential out there. This would have been a great hit for the community, but I think there will be other opportunities with this.'

Officials from at least one of the four runner-up sites are challenging the selection of Fort Smith. Michigan U.S. Sen. Gary Peters told the Detroit News he is demanding a full explanation from the Air Force and President Joe Biden's administration, adding that Michigan's 'Selfridge stood out as the clear choice.'

The Detroit site was named an alternate, in case Fort Smith fails an environmental impact review that is necessary before the decision gets finalized next year.

An explanation of the decision, detailing each finalist's pluses and minuses, would be helpful. Terre Haute could rectify its shortfalls and pursue those 'other opportunities' spawned by its candidacy for the F-35 base. If so, the community can count this experience as a win.

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KPC News. June 6, 2021.

Editorial: Historic preservation guidelines needed in Kendallville

Kendallville is once again treading into controversial waters - the city is talking about establishing some historic preservation guidelines in its downtown.

They're needed, even though it's almost guaranteed some building owners will fight them.

The conversation has reignited this week as Kendallville plans to move ahead seeking a new grant opportunity from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. The PreservINg Main Street grant could provide up to $2 million to do a substantial overhaul of multiple downtown facades, giving Main Street a major facelift all at once as opposed to piecemeal upgrades currently happening mostly through the efforts of a few motivated owners.

Our staff has previously encouraged Kendallville to consider a large-scale facade project downtown, so we are pleased that the city is pursuing an opportunity.

However, as part of the grant, if selected, the city would have to work to establish historic preservation guidelines and form a historic preservation commission to oversee and, should the need arise, enforce them.

That's been a sticking point in the past, as building owners banded together to defeat previous efforts about 10 years ago to do something similar.

In a meeting Thursday, conversation revolved around at least getting some minimum maintenance standards in place to address immediate eyesore problems like broken windows and structural damage causing a safety issue.

But city officials are cautiously framing the issue, making statements early and often that they won't be telling people they have to install a certain type of window, or dictating what color an awning or building can be.

The 'no one is going to tell me what I can or can't do with my building' attitude is real and present in not just Kendallville but any community.

The city is hoping to approach the issue with a lot of carrots and fewer sticks. The thought is, if the city gives recommendations of historically appropriate improvements, options that can fit a variety of budgets, one-on-one assistance from an on-call architect and up to 50% or more of the money needed to complete the project, building owners would have no good excuse not to try to follow the guidelines.

Historic preservation commissions are a tricky business. There is a delicate line to walk between being cooperative or coming off as controlling.

No community ideally wants to have a situation like Angola's recent window snafu, but at the same time communities need to be brave enough to declare that certain things are simply unacceptable, especially when the city is pouring literally millions of dollars into projects aimed at making Main Street more attractive and vibrant to businesses and visitors.

There are several places in downtown Kendallville where you can find examples where people made unattractive renovation decisions.

We encourage Kendallville to continue down the path toward establishing historic guidelines, regardless of whether it receives this new grant.

For nearly two decades the historic preservation ordinance has served Angola well, ensuring that the historic integrity of the downtown is preserved while allowing sensible growth.

The city should reach out early and often to business owners and take their thoughts, feedback and concerns to heart. Many are likely to be cooperative and helpful in finding the right balance.

Now is the right time to make it happen.

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Columbus Republic. June 4, 2021.

Editorial: Dialing back vaccination clinics makes sense

The concept of supply and demand can be applied to Columbus Regional Health's most recent decision on its vaccination clinic.

Starting this week, due to declining local interest, CRH is gradually reducing its hours at its vaccination site located near the hospital campus on Keller Avenue.

CRH plans to phase the clinic out by August, and is currently open three days per week. The clinic will move to two days per week in July, with final first doses being administered on July 9 before the site closes down on July 30.

Those wanting to get vaccinated by CRH after July 30 can do so in a primary care office.

Despite the fact that just 2 in 5 Bartholomew County residents are fully vaccinated, it makes sense for CRH to start moving away from its clinic.

Unfortunately, there's no reason to believe that vaccine demand will rise any time soon.

Many of those planning on getting the vaccine have already done so.

Since March 31, Hoosiers aged 16 and up have been able to get vaccinated. That number was lowered to 12 and up on May 13.

During a mass vaccination clinic in late May, which had 1,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine available, just 277 people turned out for the event.

If locals aren't interested in the one-stop-shot, having to make two appointments for the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine also isn't likely.

Going into this week, the county (40.7%) had a slightly better vaccination rate than Indiana (37%) as a whole. However, the numbers still aren't great - the state ranks 38th in total population vaccinated.

Hopefully the news that the clinic will be closing will inspire more to go out and get vaccinated.

In the meantime, extra resources shouldn't be dedicated to vaccinating the masses.

END

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