Letters to the Editor week of 6-26-08

358

Save the bridge

To the Editor:

It is with bemused consternation that I have read a little “snippet” of information tucked away in the “legal” ? notices section of The Switzerland Democrat for the past several weeks.

That notice concerned the imminent demolition of another one of Switzerland County’s rare architectural treasures, the old Simple Truss iron bridge spanning Log Lick Creek in the town of Markland.

I’m against it.

That bridge isn’t eating anything and the county has chosen to neglect it for the past 30-plus years.

Why this?

Why now?

By taking this ill advised action, the County Commissioners are needlessly letting another vital part of the county’s character be consigned to the scrap pile.

I read in the Louisville Courier-Journal several months ago, about a similar bridge in either Harrison or Crawford County, Indiana, that was saved from demolition by a group of concerned citizens.

That bridge was refurbished and is now a part of a very popular hiking/biking trail, drawing more tourists to the area.

I can’t remember the dollar amount for the project, but as I recall, it was “peanuts” for a boat money project. While reading this article, my thoughts turned immediately to the abandoned Markland bridge.

Last Saturday morning, taking time out from our crowded schedules, Tony Catanzaro and I trekked out to Markland for a closer look at the bridge.

I inspected both anchorages and they appeared rock solid to me and as for the iron itself, most of the rust and corrosion are confined to the deck supporting “stringers” which are not that hard to repair or replace.

I question how their demolition decision was arrived at.

I have been aware of it, only because I routinely read those “snippets.”

Our county museum director, however, was totally unaware of what is about to happen.

Was this proposed action ever discussed or debated at an open commissioners’ meeting?

Was any public input sought?

If you have feelings or opinions one way or the other about this matter, I urge you to contact all three of our county’s commissioners and let your voice be heard while the bridge is still standing.

I realize that there are liability issues involved as the bridge now stands but I personally believe that the cost of losing the last remaining bridge of this size and design in the county, is going to hurt the county more, both financially and aesthetically, than the simple monetary cost of repairing and restoring the bridge to some limited utilitarian state.

Steve Bladen

Tapps Ridge

Helping others

To the Editor:

Switzerland County EMS along with other ambulance services around the state has been assisting the flood victims in the Columbus, Indiana area. Columbus’ hospital was flooded by the recent flood and remains closed. The hospital had to be evacuated, sending patients to surrounding hospitals.

People needing emergency medical care are going to local urgent care centers. If their condition cannot be handled at the urgent care center, ambulances are stationed there to transport them to surrounding hospitals. Local, state and federal emergency managers are working together to schedule ambulances from the state to stage at these urgent care centers.

When an ambulance leaves with a patient another one fills in, ready to take the next patient. In addition to transporting numerous patients, Switzerland County EMS also provided bottled water to flood victims. During the 1997 flood in Switzerland County fire and EMS departments from around the state assisted our local emergency providers. It was the least we could do to help others in their time of need.

Switzerland County EMS will continue to provide aid to the flood victims as long as there is a need. Things are slowly getting back to normal but some of the scars remain. We could see the fatigue in the eyes of the local emergency personnel as well as the medical workers in the hospitals.

Randy See

EMS Director

Other ideas

To the Editor:

After reading last weeks article about the Town Council voting against helping fund the second phase of the tourism plan, I have to say I agree with their decision. Yes, the stores look a lot better and the need for that definitely make our town look a lot better. As for subsidizing the four new stores it made me think of comments I have heard around town. Things like . . . “have you seen the prices in those stores?”, or “those stores aren’t for the people of the county, they are for the “tourists” and “there aren’t that many tourists that come to Vevay.” Which I believe is true. Most go to the boat and rarely get past it into town. And even those that do venture into town and visit these shops are a bit taken back at the prices they find – $500 and up for a painting, no matter how good, from some unknown in a small town? I doubt even people that can afford such a thing would really consider it. 

Why not take any funds and concentrate on our river front? A nice place for those with RVs or camping trailers – a place for primitive camping. The little camping area along the river in Madison isn’t that big, but it is full from early spring until late fall. There are also so many in this county that have horses, and have to travel out of the county to trail ride and camp. Why not a place here in our beautiful county for people that want to go trail riding for the weekend and camp out? Make a deal with some of the landowners to have a small pass through on their property to let trail riders get from one point to another without having to get out on a road? Isn’t there any land left that Paul Ogle wanted to use for camping and trail riding? Or just a place in the county to go camp out with your kids? Why not a public pool?

Think of the money that would bring in, most in this county cannot afford $10 a day to go swimming at the Y. A reasonable price to get in for the day, plus the money spent on snacks and drinks. Things like some nice camping area’s would generate money not only from tourists but also from our own community. And I think if you want money brought in to Vevay, how about some stores that sell decent shoes, clothes, instead of having to drive to another town to buy these basic items that everyone needs?

There used to be these kinds of stores in town, and the owners evidently made a decent living from them as well as keeping the money in our own community.

I think it has gotten away from the needs of this county for the ones that live here, to the pursuit of bringing in money from tourists. There are a lot more of us than them, and if we had some stores that carried the basics then we wouldn’t have to go to Madison or Florence to spend our money, it would be spent here instead. In these times of outrageous gas prices and food prices, our county should be concentrating on the ones that live here.

 I do think a commercial kitchen is a great idea, Madison has one and does very well with it. But for the rest, I agree Vevay has other more pressing needs at this time.

 Just my thoughts . . . .

Paula Cloat

Near Moorefield

Positive step

To the Editor:

It wasn’t too many months ago, November 6th, 2007, that the citizens of Vevay, by their vote, elected Tye Sullivan and Kirk Works to Town Council. I believe that the town people were looking for a change of leadership, which in the past, had failed the townspeople. Tye and Kirk ran on the promise of governing with a new vision and new ideas, to maximize the utilization of the town’s resources, and to b e good stewards of the town’s monies by developing short and log plans and to insure that the citizens of Vevay have an improved living environment.

I believe that in the short seven moths, the efforts of the new councilmen have shown that “Business as Usual” is not continuing here in Vevay. This was made evident at the last Council meeting on June 11th when Tye and Kirk voted down the request of “Tourism” for $130,000 from the Town. Some effort had already been taken to tighten up the “Give-away” of Town money, which had been handed out like candy in the past, to every group you can think of.

What everyone needs to understand is that this council has inherited a financial nightmare that resulted from the years of neglect by previous council administrations. The town faces a backlog of citizens’ complaints, problems with our infrastructure, including the slippage of the town’s water storage tank and the overwhelming related drainage problems throughout the town. And then there is a need to keep pace with wear and tear of our equipment and facilities and that includes the financial concerns of our town’s employees, such as wages and insurance. In the “present day” financial climate, there is no guarantee that the funds that make up the town’s General Budget today will be there tomorrow.

I, for one, have been attending the council meetings for over two and a half years, certainly feel, that based on the facts, Tye and Kirk made the right call on the “Tourism” request. They both are looking out for their number one responsibility, the citizens of Vevay, in spite of t he flack they are taking from the business community. This is true leadership. Committed and dedicated.

I believe, that after two years, “Tourism”:, under the leadership of Dave Attaway and his group should have focused more on being self sustaining, and not continuing the expectations that the town (and others) would be happy to fund this venture that fails to support itself, even today. I believe that Dave Attaway needs to reevaluate his “Plan” for Tourism for Vevay. Dave needs to approach it as a business and not as a side project without a goal of self-sufficiency and purpose. While none of us wants to see “Tourism” fail, for it has had a positive effect in the business area, it is obvious that it needs some new vision and new ideas regarding its future.

I have much more to say about this issue, but I’ll leave it at that.

Ben Schoenhoeft

Vevay

Good decisions

Dear Editor:

I am writing you concerning a couple of issues. First off, I would like to say that the school board has done a fine job hiring Dr. Jones as the new superintendent. They have shown that hard work and determination does pay off. Dr. Jones has worked so hard personally for our school system since she began her career here. She has always put the safety and well being of our children first and I personally thank her for that, and know she will continue to do so as she takes on the new tasks of the job she has accepted. She truly is one of the finest citizens of our county. So kudos to the board and the search committee for this appointment. I was very critical of the board and the past administration but feel that they have truly put our children and citizens first in this monumental decision. We are living in a great time when women are showing so much leadership in our nation.

Secondly, I would like to address Tye Sullivan’s and Kirk Works’ decision to withhold the money asked for by the tourism committee. I applaud them to put the town’s citizens’ needs first with the different issues Mr. Sullivan addressed in his letter. So thanks to two council members. I agree with Mr. Hayes also that the tourism committee has made some great strides in helping the tourism in this county. But I have to say that the tourism committee truly doesn’t help a lot of other people in the community unless they are vendors. I have to say there is a lot of business in this county that goes unaccounted for as far as advertising goes, especially these farmers that raise animals for the 4-H kids and also those who sell their products nationally. I have not heard of one offer in the past years to help these individuals to advertise their services.

So I truly feel the decision made at the town council meeting was the right one. I understand that the tourism committee receives boat money to help it, then they receive money from the county, town and so on. Where does it all go? I think we all as citizens in this county have to be scratching our heads wondering where it truly goes. I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Sullivan last Thursday and told him I supported him completely on this decision. If the tourism committee is receiving all this money – where does it all go? I assume this is public record, so every citizen should be able to access these records to see where the money has gone. If this is not public information maybe we should ask the State Auditor to check these books.

Lowell Reynolds

Vevay

Tourism funding

To the Editor:

Living in the northern part of Switzerland County since we retired here in June, 2000, I rarely came to Vevay. I shopped mostly in Madison and back in the Cincinnati area from where we had retired. I made the trek over there sometimes a couple of times a month to visit my family and did my shopping while I was there.

Until The Mercantile store opened.

I love making crafts and quilting so began bringing some things into the store to put on display for sale – so, yes – I have a vested interest in the funding of the second phase of the tourism plan and $130,000 is a lot of money even spread over two years. In the two years, or so, that the stores have been open I have not sold a great deal but we are on Social Security so every little bit helps and I do enjoy having a place to put my creations so they are not in my way here all the time since I am going to be making them anyway. Quite a few of us who have things in the stores are retired and enjoy having this outlet.

So, I started breaking that down to see how that would benefit me, personally, and maybe the entire community since that is the concern. I believe there are about 350 vendors participating in the four stores. I heard there are over 5,000 items in The Mercantile alone. I don’t have any idea how much is in the other stores. That is a lot of product that is being marketed. There is no investment in the product since it still belongs to the vendor until sold. No insurance is carried on the product since it still belongs to the vendor.

The $130,000 divided by 350 vendors is about $372 funded for each vendor over the next two years. Since I am here in Vevay, anyway, bringing my things in to The Mercantile and Antiques and Treasures, I pick up my groceries, get whatever I need at the hardware and drugstore and fill my car with gas because with the price of gas now, every trip has to be made the most of. Our groceries are sometimes over a$300 per month [24 months = about $7,000] and a tank of gas per week equates to over $6,240 for me alone in the next two years. This would have been spent by me formerly in other areas while I was there instead of here.

That $37212 funded [it is really, as David Attaway calls it investment] will expand into the community to around $13,000 [almost a 350 percent return] and this does not include lunches with my guests I will be bringing with me now. Could some of that be put into the funding for the other expenses for the town. It seems rather short sighted not to make the most of what has been already started. Will not that $372 spent on my behalf benefit the rest of the community over the next two years also?

Are not the bed and breakfasts benefiting by having quaint shops to send their guests to, are not the restaurants benefiting, are not the other stores in Vevay benefiting with increased business? When I was in real estate, a representative from McDonald’s restaurants looking at a lot to build on said that he wanted a lot that was right next to Arby’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Long John Silvers because business creates business for everyone else. Stand alones do not do as well.

I am usually a stay at home, especially in the evenings, but have even participated in some First Fridays and been to the Theatre House and thoroughly enjoyed some of our local talent.

Speaking of local talent, there are some wonderful local artists that are rather well known out of the community that have creations in the stores also. There is quality in each and every store.

While I am on the stores, I have to compliment the sales associates in each. They are not clerks. Clerks just ring up sales. The sales associates take great pride and care with the stores and the vendors’ items. We vendors are all treated with respect. I’m not sure how the stores work, but believe that Angie Satterfield hires and trains the associates so she is doing a good job either hiring wonderful personnel or training them, probably a combination of both, but I for one appreciate the job they all do. I don’t know how any funding is allotted but that $130,000 may also be benefiting the salaries of the sales staff which are all local and also spent here in this community.

I have also been made aware of the Indiana Artisans program by “Visions for Switzerland County” which is working with our tourism. These programs and others would not be known about or open to us if not for this program.

It is just a mystery to me how on one hand the job in Phase I is called “wonderful” and applauded, but on the other hand not allowed to continue to Phase II when in the long run, the whole community is benefited – not just four stores – as seems to be the opinion.

Carolina Wainscot

Canaan