TERRE HAUTE —
Heated words filled the driest air felt in more than half a century, as the days of 2012 blew through the calendar.
The year brought with it elections which broke records for money spent on campaign advertising. By the time November rolled around, the U.S. Center for Responsive Politics estimated more than $5.8 billion had been spent on national elections from presidential to congressional.
Incumbent President Barack Obama faced Republican challenger Mitt Romney, winning re-election by an electoral count of 303 to 206 — 59,725,608 votes to 57,098,650 in the popular count.
In Indiana, Republicans maintained control of the governor’s mansion as Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Pence defeated former state representative Democrat John Gregg 50 percent to 46. After eight years, Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels left office due to term limits and accepted a position as president of Purdue University, which he said he will start right after Pence is sworn in.
Incumbent Republican Attorney General Greg Zoeller retained his office against Democrat Kay Fleming by a margin of 58 to 42 percent. Meanwhile, Indiana’s Superintendent of Public Education, Republican Tony Bennett, lost to Democrat challenger Glenda Ritz by a margin of 53 to 47 percent.
Indiana’s U.S. Senate seat maintained by longtime statesman Republican Richard Lugar ended up going to the Democrats after Lugar was defeated by Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock in the spring primary. Mourdock was defeated by Democrat U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly by a margin of 50 to 44 percent.
Locally, Vigo County Councilman Brad Anderson became the first Republican to win a spot on the Vigo County Board of Commissioners since 1994, defeating incumbent Democrat Paul Mason, who assumed that office in 1998. Anderson had been the lone Republican on the Vigo County Council and was subsequently replaced by former Republican councilman Mike Morris through a party caucus.
The Drought of 2012
Scorching heat burst record after record throughout the summer of 2012, with precipitation measured by the decimal point for months.
According to the National Weather Service, total precipitation for Terre Haute in June amounted to 0.23 inches, with only 0.45 in July. From March 1 through Aug. 25, several weather records were set, including one for hottest air temperature at 105 degrees by 5 p.m. July 25 at the Terre Haute International Airport. The prior record had been 102 degrees in 1934.
In July alone, 11 days brought temperatures exceeding 100 degrees, and the coolest daytime temperature that month was July 20 at 86.
By Sunday, the total amount of precipitation recorded for 2012 was 26.99 inches, considerably short of the annual average of about 42.4 inches. The Wabash River remained at 3.24 feet as of Sunday, about 9 feet short of the 14-foot flood level.
Rains eventually dampened the grounds in mid-August, but not in time to save crops. The entire state baked in the dry categories of the U.S. Drought Monitor for most of the summer, with portions of Vanderburgh County classified as D2-D4, or severe drought, and Sullivan County in D1-D4, or moderate drought.
Billie Creek Village is history
The historic pioneer village located east of Rockville on U.S. 36 closed early in 2012, with owner Charlie Cooper, 81, bringing in Key Auctioneers from Indianapolis in an attempt to sell it. Bids generated from multiple attempts were unsuccessful and according to the village’s website, its activities remained suspended at the end of December, although Cooper had stated earlier the facilities could be leased for private affairs such as weddings going forward.
A sealed-bid auction was hosted early in September but failed to draw sufficient offers. The property was exposed to public auction inside the village’s Baptist Church at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 22. About 90 people attended that auction process, where the compound was divided into three parcels. The first 19.17-acre parcel contained the historic village itself, all buildings and the contents therein, and one covered bridge. The top offer for that grouping came in at $250,000.
The second parcel, which also contained a covered bridge, included 41.78 acres, a barn, farmhouse and all contents of both. Bids for that ground topped out at $280,000.
The third parcel contained 3.66 acres and parking lot near Billie Creek Inn. Bids for that settled at $20,000. Bidders were availed the opportunity to mix and match, or combine all three parcels into one purchase of the sum, $550,000. All interested parties declined, and Cooper rejected the bids after a three-day review period.
Cooper reportedly purchased the financially struggling Billie Creek Village Inc. in an effort to keep it operating, but said that 81, he is too old to maintain the property with the attention it needs.
A YMCA reborn
Closed as the Riverbank Family & Fitness at the end of 2010, the building was re-born in June as the Vigo County YMCA. An open house for the new facility was hosted June 18, with CEO Deb Plummer Ringo ushering in a variety of programs ranging from day care and Zumba to basketball.
Opened by its parent organization, the Clay County YMCA, the Terre Haute facility operates at 951 Dresser Drive in Fairbanks Park, opening in June with more than 1,100 memberships.
Historical references date the Terre Haute YMCA’s organizational origins back to 1892, with a Terre Haute YWCA established in 1902. In 2006, the YMCA and YWCA merged into the Terre Haute Family Y, operating out of the facility at Dresser Drive, but in October 2010 the organization disaffiliated with the YMCA and began operating as Riverbank Family & Fitness through its closure in December.
Officials cited ongoing financial shortfalls as the cause of the closing. The building itself was owned by the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana, who in turn handed it over to the City of Terre Haute and its parks department.
Discussions between the city and Clay County YMCA were initiated in 2011 and culminated in the new organization more than a year later. Representatives from both groups credited the Clay County organization’s financial solvency and successful programming as key ingredients to potential success in Terre Haute.
New faces at local nonprofits
A trio of community organizations experienced change this year as leadership turned over at the Terre Haute International Airport, Downtown Terre Haute Inc. and the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce.
Retired U.S. Navy Captain Bill McKown assumed the position of executive director at the airport, with Darrel Zeck appointed director of operations.
McKown, a native of Riverside, Calif., served 35 years as a military aviator, beginning in September 1972, after graduation from Southern Illinois University. His service began with nine years in the U.S. Air Force, but ultimately finished with the Navy from whence he retired a captain, earning a graduate degree in national resource strategy from the National Defense University along the way.
In addition to piloting some of the first missions off carriers in support of Desert Storm, McKown served in roles ranging from squad commander to “air boss” aboard the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk. Since retiring from the Navy, McKown most recently served as manager of Stevens Field in Pagosa Springs, Colo.
Zeck came to the airport from his position as director of communications for Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett, but the U.S. Air Force veteran and current member of the Air National Guard’s 181st Intelligence Battalion actually got off the ground washing planes as a young man, eventually working his way up to flight planner for Air Force One for U.S. presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
The Michigan native got his start in aviation while working at the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport’s Fixed Base Operator, washing down planes and pumping gas. After attending the University of Michigan, Zeck enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, starting out in command and control, earning the honor of becoming the Air Force’s first noncommissioned officer to serve as a flight planner, work that led to his service with Air Force One. After his discharge, he went to Lockheed Martin as a military operations specialist. That job led to another with American Trans Air. In 2009, Zeck re-enlisted in the military, this time with the Indiana Air National Guard’s 181st Intelligence Wing.
Likewise, the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce appointed a new leader in Ken Brengle, who accepted the position in July after former CEO Rod Henry retired in 2011.
The Colorado native had most recently been CEO of the West Chamber of Commerce in Jefferson County, Colo., a community of about 250,000 people. An avid golfer, Brengle was a three-sport athlete in high school and played football at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo. After graduation, he worked for small chambers of commerce in Colorado, accepting leadership positions at Big Bear Lake Resort Association in California and Jefferson County, Colo., along the way.
Downtown Terre Haute Inc. also appointed a new leader in Ariane Marie King, who became the organization’s operations director in July.
The Vigo County native graduated from Terre Haute South Vigo High School in 2000, earning an undergraduate degree at Indiana State University in 2005 and a master’s in leadership development from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in 2010.
King became affiliated with downtown organizations while an intern with Art Spaces Inc. where she worked on projects such as the Max Ehrmann statue now located at Seventh Street and Wabash Avenue.
Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or email@example.com
Last of five parts
TERRE HAUTE —
Heated words filled the driest air felt in more than half a century, as the days of 2012 blew through the calendar.
- Local & Bistate
ISU unveils interactive Bayh Family Legacy Wall at school
A who’s who of Indiana Democrats paid tribute to Evan Bayh and several generations of the Bayh family Friday during a dedication of a new interactive display at Indiana State University.
Can you smell me now?
A contraband cell phone has been discovered by the Vigo County Jail’s youngest and most unique officer.
GIVING BACK: Steve Weatherford buys shoes for kids day before charity run
Terre Haute’s Steve Weatherford, punter for the 2012 Super Bowl champion New York Giants, showed once again his generosity Friday by donating new athletic shoes to more than two dozen Vigo County kids.
N.Y. Giants honor Weatherford as ‘Man of the Year’
Dan Tanoos, superintendent of Vigo County schools, remembers the first time he saw Steve Weatherford as a freshman at Terre Haute North Vigo High School.
Sunday recital at The Woods
A recital featuring songs from well-known composers is at 7 p.m. Sunday in the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
Police investigating rash of car window shootings
Terre Haute Police are investigating a rash of shootings that have shattered car windows throughout the city.
City hospitals get passing grades for patient safety
Two Terre Haute hospitals have been ranked for patient safety by an independent organization that assesses safety, quality and affordability of healthcare for Americans.
Three from Operation Turn and Burn sentenced in federal court
Three co-conspirators in a Wabash Valley methamphetamine trafficking ring were sentenced this week to several years in federal prison.
Illinois Senate approves medical marijuana bill
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn must decide if he will sign a measure allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes after the state Senate approved legislation today.
Vigo County Jail Log: May 17, 2013
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Thursday, based on jail records.
I-70 resurfacing project will close westbound exit ramp
PUTNAM COUNTY, Ind. – The Indiana Department of Transportation announces the resurfacing project on Interstate 70 will close the westbound exit ramp at Indiana 243 beginning Wednesday May, 22 at about 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. that same day to mill and resurface the ramp.
UPDATE: Fire damages buildings in downtown Greencastle
GREENCASTLE, Ind. — Fire badly damaged several buildings today near the courthouse square in Greencastle, with flames shooting through the roofs as firefighters from several communities were called in to the central Indiana city to help.
Get outside this Memorial Day weekend
Although DNR campgrounds and cabins at state parks, state reservoirs and recreation areas are booked to capacity for Memorial Day weekend, some shelters remain available for picnics and other day-use gatherings.
Skateboarders, BMX bike riders working to improve area of city park they use
The sound of small wheels rolling across smooth concrete fills the air, accented by the clacking noise of a wooden skateboard coming to an instant stop on a metal edge before rolling on again.
Indiana State to host 2014 MVC baseball tourney
Build it… and they will come. The Missouri Valley Conference and Indiana State University made that famous line from the movie “Fields Of Dreams” reality Thursday.
Overlay recommended for 812 area code
The state agency that represents Hoosier utility customers is calling for a ten-digit solution to southern Indiana’s vanishing supply of 812 area code telephone numbers.
Elementary school saddened by student’s death
A 9-year-old Dixie Bee Elementary student died unexpectedly Wednesday evening as the result of pneumonia, said Vigo County Coroner Susan Amos on Thursday.
Vermillion CSX crossings undergoing maintenance
CSX maintenance crews are working on railroad crossings between Dana and Chrisman, Ill. this week and next, a CSX official said Thursday.
Beware of scams everywhere
Ever get a phone call in the middle of the night from a person claiming to be your grandchild, who unfortunately has been jailed in Canada and needs bail money?
INDOT to start work on Indiana 163 in Vermillion County
Maintenance crews will begin a pavement preservation project Monday on Indiana 163, between Indiana 63 and the Illinois state line west of Clinton.
Union Hospital community garden spots now available
Community gardening spots are now available at the Union Hospital Community Garden for Wabash Valley residents interested in planting and maintaining a garden but may not have the space. The garden is located west of the intersection of North Sixth Street and Seventh Avenue in Terre Haute at 1430 N. Sixth St.
Correctional officer remembered at memorial
Greene County native and Wabash Valley Correctional Facility Officer Timothy Betts was honored during a memorial ceremony at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Money donated for Dresser sculpture
100+ Women Who Care of Vigo County on Thursday awarded a $20,200 grant to Art Spaces that will help make the Paul Dresser sculpture, “A Song for Indiana,” a reality.
Powerball jackpot quickly jumps to $550 million
The Powerball jackpot jumped to $550 million on Thursday — the third largest lottery in history — as dreamers in all but the seven states where the game isn’t played snatched up tickets for the minuscule chance at a life on easy street.
School bus carrying special-needs kids rolls over
INDIANAPOLIS — A school bus carrying special-needs students rolled over today on a highway near Indianapolis, injuring a dozen people including five children, state police said.
Vigo County Jail Log: May 16, 2013
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Wednesday and Thursday, based on jail records.
Terre Haute to host MVC baseball championship in 2014
After 32 years, Terre Haute will once again host the Missouri Valley Conference baseball championship tournament next season.
About 200 channel catfish find new home in Dobbs Park pond
About 200 channel catfish transferred into a new home at the Dobbs Park pond on Wednesday, but it’s unclear how long they’ll remain there. That depends upon the people fishing.
GED grads turn the tassels
Michelle McClendon’s first child was born when she was 15.
She tried to stay in school, but it was just too much, so she dropped out to take care of her daughter.
MARK BENNETT: Local summer music series idea remains a good one
One-of-a-kind ideas happen rarely.
As the biblical adage goes, there is nothing new under the sun. We humans succeed occasionally, inventing electricity, automobiles, telephones and the Internet. Invariably, though, someone else insists, “Hey, my grandpa thought of that years before Edison.”
- More Local & Bistate Headlines
- ISU unveils interactive Bayh Family Legacy Wall at school