Letters to the Editor week of 2-2-12


Plan Update

To the Editor:

 We wanted to update the community on progress being made on the new Comprehensive Plan.

Members of the Switzerland County Advisory Committee (Committee) attended the regular meeting of the Switzerland County Planning Commission (Plan Commission) on Wednesday January 19, 2012 to discuss progress on the new comprehensive plan and gather input from the Plan Commission members.

To review, the Committee has been working since the popular rejection of the plan known as the 2008 plan or Frankel plan to assist in creating a plan that more appropriately meets the needs of Switzerland County and its citizens. The Committee has been meeting regularly at 6 p.m. at the municipal building on Seminary Street in Vevay. Meetings are the first and third Tuesday of each month and all interested residents are encouraged to attend.

A preliminary draft of a new plan has been available for viewing and comments on a blog set up by the Committee, the web address is www.switzcoplan.wordpress.com. The version of the plan currently on the web site is the one presented to the Plan Commission at the meeting. *(to save time and effort the text on the web is copied, it does not come out exactly as formatted in other computer file formats and can be difficult to follow, if you would like one that is easier to read or to print please comment to that effect and we email it to you in PFD format)

The Plan Commission members gave input and suggested some revisions to the draft. Additionally Plan Commission members expressed general support for the new plan and efforts of the Committee.

The plan as currently available on the web contains some recommendations by the committee as well as sections allowed but not required by law. These sections are related to each other and basically would have included general information about the county, not as part of codes or ordinances but as reference material.  After discussion and on advice of the Plan Commission it was decided to remove these sections. It was decided to retain the preamble portion, a brief section containing general goals for the plan and stating the basis for a comprehensive plan in Indiana Law.

An important concern of the committee was input on what follows after the plan is officially finalized. This is the point where detailed ordinances and other content will be developed in accordance with the plan. These will include as recommended by the Committee and agreed by the Plan Commission, a zoning code, a subdivision control code, a building code, and an enforcement code. The committee had also recommended an Agricultural Covenant with the purpose of protecting and promoting agricultural interests. With input from Commission members it was decided to expand the scope to a “Rural Covenant” with the agricultural protections included as a part. 

Committee members reminded the Plan Commission that as of yet there have been no citizens of either of the incorporated towns attending our meetings and that no efforts have been made to discover or address issues related specifically to the towns. Committee members have attended meetings of the Vevay Town board to be sure they are also aware and we are looking forward to welcoming citizens or elected representatives of the town of Vevay to the group.

The last item recommended by the Plan Commission is more specific inclusion of the issue of “blight”.  “Blight”, according to Frankel’s definition and Frankel’s plan was perhaps the single most important issue facing Switzerland County. So important it called for creation of many pages of regulations and a whole new branch of local government to enforce them.

Much time has been spent in discussion of this issue by the committee and while we do agree there are instances where the public health and safety may be at risk there are no plans to create regulations to fine, take property or criminally prosecute someone who doesn’t mow their grass or paint their porch, these things do not threaten public health or safety.

This being said, we do believe government has and should have authority to act in cases where it is shown that the public is indeed at risk. The plan includes headings under which this can be addressed in the subsequent regulations.

The next meeting is Tuesday, February, 7th, at 6 p.m.

Mark Reed on behalf of

 Switzerland County Citizens Advisory Committee


 To the Editor:

This article is in response to the letter titled “Fire Protection” written last week by Mr. Michael Krall. On behalf of the Jeff-Craig Fire Board we would like to thank you for your thoughts about the local fire protection service. Your article has shown us that we need to obviously do a better job at communicating fire protection information to the general public as well as our own firefighters.

Mr. Krall is 100% right that fire protection is a vital part of our everyday life, and that it is also sometimes taken for granted that it will always be there when you need it. This county is very fortunate to have the number of volunteer firefighters that it does. The five fire departments East Enterprise, Jeff-Craig, Moorefield, Patriot, & Posey are there 24/7 to provide the three firefighter objectives which are: life safety, property conservation, and incident stabilization. These departments have a great working relationship and try to provide the best service possible for our local community. This working relationship can be seen in countywide fire trainings and fireground operations.

In Mike Krall’s letter he talks about a fire on Brooks Road where East Enterprise Fire Department beat Jeff-Craig Fire Department to the scene. There are so many factors that could have caused the delay and unfortunately the reason is unknown. However, this is the perfect example showing that the departments work together. The fact that one department beat another to the scene isn’t really the issue; the issue is that the first arriving department was able to get on scene and put the fire out. And if they were unable to blitz the fire with initial efforts, more resources were only minutes away. In 2011, Jeff-Craig Fire’s average time for calling mutual aid was 3 minutes on structure fires proving that we encourage all departments working together.  Twenty years ago Vevay Hill was an issue for our fire department. Due to old trucks with unbaffled water tanks and no power steering extra time was needed to lug the hill. However with the new and safer fire trucks that our department has, the hill no longer poses a challenge. And in 2011 Jeff-Craig Fire’s average dispatch to en route time was three minutes (same as our call for mutual aid time). This is mostly due to the fact that many of our firefighters live in town close to the fire station. So the 1 minute extra it may take to climb the hill is no different than the extra minute or so rural departments take getting to the station from their homes farther from the station.

Vevay Hill as we all know is going to be repaired in the near future. Our fire department has been aware of this for several years and has contacted state highway officials in regards to fire protection. This is not an unfamiliar situation to our department. A few years back Moorefield and Jeff-Craig dealt with this exact situation with Highway 129. Preplanning has been done and our local fire departments are going to take care of the issue. Fortunately Jeff-Craig Fire has a few members that live on top of the hill. Two fire trucks will be strategically placed to allow us to perform emergency operations with little or no delay in response. And as in the past we will rely on surrounding departments for support.  

What the public needs to understand is that our volunteer firefighters are held to the same standards as career firefighters. A byproduct of complying with these standards is that it makes our volunteer firefighters…professional firefighters. This county’s professional firefighters are trained in not only firefighting, but also emergency medical service, hazardous materials, technical rescues, incident command, emergency management , emergency service pre-planning, and many other areas.

The fire service nationwide is going through culture changes that are affecting the way we look at the fire service. This happens when new ideas, technologies, and procedures are developed and implemented. We no longer fight fire by knocking out windows and spraying water “the wet stuff on the red stuff method”, instead we use science and technology to combat fires safely and more effectively. Our local departments are all going through these changes at the present time…and will always work to provide the best possible combined fire protection efforts for this community.

Jeff-Craig Fire Department business meetings are open to the public on the third Wednesday of the month 7 p.m.

Any comments or concerns can be addressed to:

Jeff-Craig Fire Board

P.O. Box 152

Vevay, IN 47043

Jeff-Craig Fire Board

John Stafford, Lewis Fritter, Dennis Cole,

James Miller, Billy Leap, Jeremy Harsin,

Tony Peelman, Christopher See

Judge’s point of view

To the Editor:

Recently an article was written requesting to start a Beef Judge Selection Committee in the county for the annual 4-H fair. While there are varying reasons for wanting to start this, I ask those concerned to take a moment to understand what being a livestock show judge means to me, and how it relates to the article written last week. As a native of Switzerland County, Purdue Livestock Judging Team alumnus, and judge of numerous livestock shows and contests from Minnesota to Virginia, I take great pride in announcing to the crowds in attendance that I was born and raised in Switzerland County.

Even this year when the emcee announced to the crowd inside of Pepsi Coliseum while I was judging the Indiana State Fair 4-H Cattle showmanship competition, I got chills when he said I was a native of Switzerland County. I was honored to represent our county in that capacity that day. It’s such a rewarding experience to me to be a judge at a livestock show, because it gives me the chance to apply what I have learned as a 4-H member, FFA member, and professional. As well as what I’ve learned around our family’s operation here in the county and put it on display judging a livestock show and that is integrity. Integrity, paired with honesty and credibility are what have helped boost my judging career throughout the years.

I always go in to a show knowing that I am going to make select young people’s day, and disappoint/humble others as well, simply put, that is just part of the job description. As a judge I live with the outcomes of my decisions at every show, and I can safely say after every show I’ve judged I have felt great about the decisions I have made because I justly selected those animals to place accordingly based on integrity, credibility and quality of the animals. In relation to the article, starting this committee is a blow to our extension agents’ credibility and integrity. Our county agents have selected the judges for shows and projects the past few years and have done so with great integrity. Win or lose, I am confident they can effectively select the right people and maintain the integrity that the 4-H Program demands.

Nonetheless, at the end of the day when a 4-H agent asks me to judge I’m not concerned about how much I will make or who I’m going to make happy/upset, but more so how am I going to positively impact every 4-H member who comes into that ring with a project. That’s what it’s about to me, not about who selected me. I have had the opportunity to network with a majority of folks who are fellow judges, and sure they have even been evaluators at our fair, but I, as an uncle, 4-H leader, livestock judging team coach and livestock show judge can confidently say that a great majority of my colleagues who judge, do so with utmost importance on maintaining the integrity of a livestock show/4-H Program. How we are selected is based upon the quality of our work, not the individuals we pick. I always encourage anyone who is interested to see me judge to feel free to come watch me work and see the integrity I put into a show.

Jeremy Armstrong

Warsaw, Indiana

Native of Patriot

Full service grocery

To the Editor:

How about the powers that be (our politicians) approach the executives of Ruler Stores and try to negotiate a deal to obtain a Ruler Store here in Vevay. Why Ruler? Their prices are very competitive, instead of a fly by night outfit that would probably fold in a short time.

Rulers’ parent company is the Kroger Company, which is one of the largest companies in the U.S. Possibly our politicians could get together with Belterra and Kroger and offer: Example: 10 year free lease and tax exemption, as an incentive to open a store here. Ruler and Kroger executives are no fools. They will need an outstanding incentive to open a store here. By the way, I have no stock or private interest in Krogers. Just an interest in the hope our citizens can have a reliable full service store.

If you agree call your favorite politicians and let them know how you feel.

Don Witt


Respose to Kip

To the Editor:

In Kip Meyerhoff’s letter to the editor, he seemed to be blaming the Obama “regime” for the financial problems inherited from the previous “regime’s” two major wars and the obscene bailout of Wall Street banks (using taxpayer money) and any other company that bribed (oh, excuse me – I mean contributed to the campaign) of both Obama and Bush.

A quite wealthy man recently was quoted: “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning” (Warren Buffett). This same very wealthy and philanthropic man also was quoted: “He only paid 19 percent of his income for 2006 ($48.1 million) in total federal taxes (due to their being from dividends and capital gains), while his employees paid 33 percent of theirs, despite making much less money. “How can this be right?”, he added.

So, pity the poor 1 percent if you wish, Kip. I am jealous of their tax bracket myself.

Rocky Hollingsworth