Editorial Roundup: Indiana

 
 
Updated 8/3/2021 1:00 PM

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. July 31, 2021.

Editorial: Tough times for alleged insurrectionist

 

Things haven't been easy for Jon Schaffer since he was arrested for taking part in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

In fact, a lawyer for the former Fort Wayne resident said his client spent 'two months of hell' inside the Marion County Jail after being taken into custody Jan. 17 by police in Noblesville.

'My client, who is presumed innocent, has just gone through two months of hell where other people were throwing feces at him and urine at him and threatening his life in a horrible, horrible situation,' Marc J. Victor told a federal judge during a detention hearing in March, according to the Indianapolis Star.

The newspaper obtained jail incident reports showing the heavy metal guitarist who attended Northrop High School was held in 'administrative segregation,' away from the general population. He was removed from his cell March 7 after telling guards he 'was in fear for his personal safety' and later told jailers three inmates threatened to kill him, the Star reported.

It's not clear why Schaffer was targeted, but his lawyer reportedly told the judge it might have been because of his role in the deadly riot, during which a mob disrupted a vote to certify Joe Biden's election as president.

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Schaffer was the first defendant to plead guilty '" to obstruction of an official proceeding and to entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon '" in the attack on the Capitol. He has not been sentenced, but a plea agreement filed in April says punishment could range from 41 to 51 months behind bars.

'He was there for about 60 seconds, judge,' Victor said, according to a July 23 Star story. 'He walked in, felt somebody tug at his pepper spray, and because he didn't want it to be stolen from him, that's the reason he took it out and '" and held it in his hand.'

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Terre Haute Tribune-Star, July 30, 2021.

Editorial: Collective energy can help community tackle problems

Positive momentum in and around Terre Haute is clear to see.

New construction continues downtown around the new convention center. Two manufacturing companies this week announced significant hiring and expansion plans. A new live music venue on the city's south side continues to stage concerts by popular national recording artists this summer. Quality-of-life amenities, such as the Turn to the River project and a new pedestrian walkway between Terre Haute and West Terre Haute are becoming realities. A new skate park is giving northside kids opportunities for fun at Sheridan Park. The list of improvements steadily grows.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Any Hautean can attest to several community problems in need of attention, though.

Gun violence has shattered lives, with seven fatal shootings occurring in the past year. Vigo County and Terre Haute continue to see the family-age population dwindle, while more affluent Hoosier towns and states grow. Nearly 25% of kids under 18 live in poverty here, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Food banks and shelters need donors and supplies, especially through the COVID-19 pandemic.

A vast resource exists for tackling the community's lingering issues - young people.

This week, Vigo County schools superintendent Rob Haworth asked local high school students to provide a cumulative 50,000 hours of community service through the 2021-22 school year. Haworth made the pitch at the three-day Team Vigo Leadership Conference at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. Vigo County School Corp. and the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce sponsored the event.

Notably, Haworth's call was not directed solely at the 100 high school student leaders attending the conference. He included all 3,520 students at Terre Haute North, Terre Haute South and West Vigo high schools. If each participated in a community service commitment, their duties would total about 14 hours for the year, or 2.5 hours a month.

'There will be a focus on the growth of your entire student body in your high school, not just your clique. Not just those in your immediate circle, but the entire building,' Haworth said.

The 100 young people attending the conference later presented school-wide community service plans for their schools, met with more than 20 local leaders and listened to speeches by Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett and new Indiana State University men's basketball coach Josh Schertz. All of that will be valuable toward Haworth's goal.

Still, the most important element will be the follow-through, especially the enlistment of a broad cross-section of students at each school, from those heading up the student councils and National Honor Society chapter to the quietest teen in a history class. That outreach will determine the level of accomplishment.

The same holds true in the larger community. What if every adult among Vigo County's population of 107,038 residents - not just the usual crowd that perpetually sacrifices their time and resources - committed two and a half hours a month to serving the community? That concept unfolded last weekend during the United Way's annual Serve the Valley event.

Three-hundred volunteers showed up, including many from local companies and Maryland Community Church, brightening a Fairbanks Park trail, painting curbs sorting donated clothing at The Life Center on College Avenue.

What if 10,000 residents showed up? Or 20,000? Preposterous, right?

Well, if that happened, larger concerns could be addressed, and it would go on throughout the year. On top of that, people might develop more hope and connection to the town in which they live. More much-needed, family-age residents might stay.

One of the students attending the high school conference this week had such a mindset change. 'A few days ago, if you were to ask me if I wanted to move out of Terre Haute, I would have said yes in a heartbeat,' she said. 'But this makes me want to stay. ... I realized people want to make a change, and I really want to be part of that change and help in any way I can.'

Problems here could be far less ominous if such a comment were heard more often.

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KPC News. Aug. 1, 2021.

Editorial: Grant is Kendallville's opportunity to transform right now

What would Kendallville do with a $2 million downtown grant if it wins it?

The city will need to have a clear, tangible answer to that question if it wants to win over state grant selectors.

Kendallville leaders are in the midst of preparing for a site visit from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs on Aug. 11, when selectors will visit the city as part of the process for picking its first PreservINg Main Street grant.

The pilot program from the state will connect one community with $2 million in funds for projects, as well as provide assistance in setting up and managing historic preservation guidelines.

Kendallville is one of five finalists in the running for the sole prize, picked from more than 20 communities who applied.

In the realm of construction, $2 million isn't world-altering money, but for a small community like Kendallville, that kind of cash can make a big impact.

So, what should the city spend that money on?

City leaders are huddling in overdrive to draw up, refine, and solidify their plans. In the run up to the finalist announcement, the city had some meetings about its vision, but had not communicated specifics that it wanted to do Project A, B and/or C at that time.

We expect to find out more in the coming days, and the community is welcome to attend the city's presentation to show support and learn firsthand.

Kendallville has a good foundation to tell the story of why it's deserving of this money. Effort the city has put into projects like the downtown streetscape, facade grants and new events and festivals on Main Street are changing the local culture piece by piece.

Next, it needs to persuade OCRA that the agency's can buy in and help Kendallville take a next big leap right now, as opposed to the city accomplishing it piecemeal over the next five to 10 years on its own.

This grant proposal should be the means for Kendallville to make its statement. It's the chance to do a Hosler Realty-level project on a bigger scale, something that says to other building owners and to residents, 'This is what our downtown can look like and can be with the right amount of vision, investment and execution.' It needs to be something that will make it hard for anyone to look at and deny that this is the right path to revitalization.

What is the 'wow' project? What's the thing the state will be able to point and say 'Our money helped take Kendallville from a town you never heard of to a town you need to see right now.'

We're as anxious to hear as OCRA.

Grant selectors arrive for the site visit in 10 days. It's a tight schedule to finalize and perfect a pitch. We have no doubt it's all that's consuming city leaders' time right now.

This is a big opportunity for Kendallville.

Stand behind it and help support it in any way you can.

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Anderson Herald Bulletin. July 31, 2021.

Editorial: Students, educators need support

As students return to school after a year of turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, they will need the support of their teachers, parents and members of the community.

The last year and a half has taken its toll on all of us as we've journeyed through the pandemic and its economic fallout, as well as a highly polarized political climate that culminated in a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol building.

As we struggle to get back to our lives, we also have strong disagreements about vaccines, mask wearing and social distancing.

When it comes to our young people returning to school, we encourage everyone to put the disagreements aside and pull together to support the students' education in every way we can.

Teachers and parents may have to provide more guidance and exercise more patience than in years past as they mentor students, some of whom have fallen behind.

The summer learning loss - or the summer slide - is a well-known phenomenon among educators, referring to the erosion of academic skills and knowledge that occurs over summer vacation.

In this case, the summer slide likely extends across an entire year or more for students who have been deprived of hands-on learning in a group setting. This loss might impact not only academic skills but also emotional and social skills because of isolation from other children.

We encourage parents to take a more active role in education to help keep students on track and to help them readjust to in-person school.

Vaccination requirements are a contentious topic, but we urge all parents to work with educators to ensure that students and parents are following classroom and building safety guidelines.

Now that children are getting (not quite) back to normal, we should follow safety protocols so that we can continue to get back to our lives - more importantly, so that children can get back to dynamic, hands-on education in the company of other children.

Talk to your kids. Ask about homework. Most importantly, ask how they're feeling. Adults and children alike have been affected by the mental health consequences of quarantining.

Hopefully, sending the kids back to school will be one more step in a return to normalcy.

END

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