Letters to the Editor week of 09-11-08



To the Editor:

In the “To the Point” column of September 4th issue of the Vevay newspaper in the last sentence you write, “Sarah Palin holding an automatic weapon scares me much worse than her holding her grandchild.”

What in heaven’s name are you insinuating? Is it: you are showing your true colors as a newspaper man? I’ll tell you what it tells me. It tells me which side of the political fence you are on and that’s fine, but don’t pretend or say you are unbiased.

James Rush


Bridge abandonment

To The Editor:

Since my letter last week word has reached me that the commissioners last meeting went virtually unattended. There were, I might add, two people of interest in attendance, however they said nothing. But at least they were there. I talked to four (4) people yesterday and came out of the conversations feeling quite disappointed in the direction the bridge fiasco appears to be headed. I asked one of my sisters if she would give us support on this issue and her reply was, ‘ I don’t care one way or the other about that old bridge.’ My mistake was dropping the talk and not asking her if she cared that the county commissioners were going to spend $21,000+ if the bridge goes down, when in fact they wouldn’t have to spend any, thanks to Joe Deck’s generous offer. Wake up people, doesn’t that amount of money mean anything to you, a county that has always cried poor every opportunity they got to do so?

I talked by phone with Commissioner Bond, who stated he wished people would come to the commissioners meetings rather than writing their complaints to the editor. That sounds to me like a plea to get people in to talk and get this thing over with. I don’t know. Maybe he’s sincere, or perhaps he’s blowing smoke, but you won’t find out if you don’t confront them. If I lived about five (5) hours closer I would be there every time they turned the lights on.

I have seen 10 or more articles in the news favoring keeping the bridge. I have had one voice against keeping the bridge, plus Joe Leatherbury’s assessment of the condition of the bridge and I have heard talk of a lot of people voicing their opinion in favor of keeping it, so that has me believing that the bridge is wanted in the county, but at the same time it appears to be a very well kept secret.

Commissioner Banta was quoted as saying he thought at the time the bid was let that he assumed getting rid of the bridge would rid the county of what might be construed as an eyesore. My first reaction to this was; How can he say that, when the bridge cannot even be seen? I was in Switzerland County on Saturday, August 30th, and stopped by to look at the bridge and could not see it from the west end, and only a part of the portal on the east end.

This bridge has been abandoned by not only the commissioners, but by the whole county. Maybe a pitch-in work day is in order to clean up around the bridge. I mentioned to Commissioner Bond that the county road crew could also do this, at the county’s expense but I doubt this will ever happen. Spend a bunch to tear it down, but don’t even think about spending a very small amount to clean up the area. This applies to commissioners of the past also. You guys haven’t done anymore than the present ones.

As I stated in a previous letter, there is no reason other than arrogance on the part of two of the commissioners and disdain for history that this bridge should not be left right where it is. Joe Deck proved that when he made that offer and the parties involved have ignored him.

 Harold Scudder

 Homer, Michigan

Still yelling

To the Editor:

I don’t know which I found more offensive in our commissioners’ statements regarding the old bridge at Markland. The condescension was bad enough but the crowing and “shoot the messenger’s wife’s organization” was over the top.

For your information Commissioner Morton it is Steve Bladen, not Martha Bladen or the Switzerland County Historical Society, that has kept this subject in front of people.

The fact that the historical society never took a stand for or against the commissioners’ actions until last week speaks volumes about the political and financial ramifications of dissent in Switzerland County.

Certain members of the historical society have counseled me to ease up on this matter for fear of what may happen to future funding for the society and their “projects.”

Whether I ease up or not, that ship sailed when I wrote my first letter to the editor back in June. Collectively, our silence on matters such as this is deemed as our consent.

After a period of time our silence/consent is seen as an endorsement of what I see as misplaced priorities and misguided policies.

County government is funneling copious amounts of money to the tourism board which in turn touts the “historical” nature of our county and towns in most of their advertising.

Yet our county commissioners treat our award winning historical society like an illegitimate child at a family reunion.

They are tolerated but not openly embraced or totally accepted by this board of commissioners.

The surreptitious way that the commissioners went about making the decision and effectively making an end-run around the historical society tells me that there was some feeling beforehand that someone might have concerns about the destruction of this treasure/”eyesore.”

I’m going to keep yelling.

Steve Bladen

Tapps Ridge

ISTEP+ testing

Dear Editor:

 I recently received a memo from Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Suellen Reed about ISTEP+ testing. I thought that it was important for your readers to understand that the state assessment would be given to students twice this year, once in each semester.

 Students in grades 3-8 will take the fall ISTEP+ beginning September 15th. Based on Indiana’s Academic Standards, the fall test includes multiple choice, essay and short answer questions covering English/language arts and mathematics at each grade level as well as science at grades 5 and 7. Incoming high school sophomores (class of 2011) will be the last group of students to take the current GQE that covers English and math skills through grade 9. 

Students in grades 3-8 will also take ISTEP+ in the spring. Like the fall test, the spring ISTEP+ will include questions on English and math at each grade level. The new spring test also expands the subjects tested with questions on science at grades 4 and 6 and social studies at grades 5 and 7.

The spring test will be administered in two parts:

Part one (taken in March) includes essay and short answer questions.

Part two (taken in late April or early May) includes multiple-choice questions.

Student results for the spring 2009 ISTEP+ will be released in August. Results for each year thereafter will be available to students, parents and educators before the end of the school year.

The Graduation Qualifying Exam (GQE) ensures that Indiana high school graduates have mastered and are able to apply basic knowledge and skills in reading, writing and mathematics. Students must meet the GQE requirement to earn a high school diploma.

Previously, students took one big test in grade 10 that covered both math and English. The class of 2011 (incoming sophomores this fall) will be the last class to take the GQE as one big exam this fall. The GQE will be administered on September 16th, 17th and 18th.

Beginning with the class of 2012 (incoming freshmen this fall), the new GQE consists of two smaller tests that students will take after completing courses in Algebra I and English 10. The exams will be given at various times during the year, depending on when a student completes each course.

If you have additional questions: Visit www.doe.in.gov/istep or call 1-888-54-ISTEP.

Darrell Hansel

District ISTEP Coordinator

Switzerland County Schools