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Hoosiers' voices on verge of being silenced by legislators

Thank you for the great articles written by Taylor Ferguson. These articles brought to light legislation taking place in our state legislative body. I personally appreciated it and (it) gave me hope that democracy can still be open to its citizens. How refreshing.

However, it is hard for me to believe that it was through a supposed democratic process that we are seeing an end to some of our rights. Why would a legislative body, elected by us, take away our right to elect our own secretary of education? What justification do they have? Is it that they don't trust our judgment?

Will we need to be on guard that maybe next time they will take away our right to vote for our state representatives because they, too, should be appointed? Are they so wrapped up with their politics that people don't count and the voices of the people should not be heard?

We are on a slippery slope when our leadership believes that it's all right to take away our voice, especially when it comes to the education of our children. Education is one of the fundamentals that help to develop good leadership, knowledge, creativity, inspiration, ambition, etc. And they don't think our voice counts?

To add insult to injury is their plan to wait until 2025 just so that Jennifer McCormick can have "her shot" at re-election. Doesn't this fly in the face of democracy? What is really scary is that they have the nerve to let us know this plan. Do they either think we don't care or that we aren't going to do anything about it anyway? Or is it set up that now that they have done this that we can't do anything about it?

I guess time will tell if we choose to give our democracy away or fight to give the right to choice back to the people. Our voices are being silenced little by little like a pillow being put over one's face, suffocating the life of democracy until it is dead.

Sandy Gettelfinger
Corydon, Ind.
May 17, 2017

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Different meanings of love

Easter is coming soon and the last couple of articles I've read was on love.

When I was a teenager, I gave a girl a sweetheart ring. I asked her to be my girlfriend. She began to cry and said, "I am speechless. I have no words to express how I feel." I never forgot what she said.

The English language is very limited when it comes to feelings and emotions. I'll give you an example concerning the word "love." I love my dog. I love my car. I love apple pie and the girl I left behind. Everything gets lumped under one word: love.

There are several kinds of love that are not expressed through English. Pileo is a brotherly kind of love. Eros is love between a man and a woman in marriage. Stergein love is between brother, sister, aunts and uncles. Agape is the God kind of love.

The Bible tells you that God is love, which is above all human understanding. He loved us so much that He sent His son to die on a cross for us. This is far above our understanding. It's hard to understand that God would send His son to die on the cross, knowing full well what they would do to Him. This is Agape love. The love of God boggles the human mind. It is love in the highest, purest form. The love we have for others is only a small portion of the love God has for us all.

Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. When you become a Christian, you receive that same resurrection life. Without His resurrection, we are lost.

Did you know that every creature on this planet honors the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ every day they are alive? Every night you go to bed is a picture of death. Every morning you rise is a picture of the resurrection. He rose from the dead so that we may receive resurrection life. This is what Easter is all about.

The Jewish people spoke Hebrew in the temple and Aramaic in public. Alexander the Great began conquering countries in that region. The Aramaic and Greek language came together. It came at the right time. It became the most perfect language ever made. There was a word to express every feeling and every emotion that the Lord Jesus Christ had.

Let's remember our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His great love for us this Easter.

Charles Thompson
Marengo, Ind.
May 03, 2017

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Young offers response

I want to thank those who have taken time to ponder my articles and write responses to them. It gratifies me that they spur contemplation. That is the foundational reason why I take my time to write them.

I was uncertain about responding to Mr. Totten's comments about my recent article entitled "Truth vs. Belief" because I realize that our powerful beliefs can produce intense reactions and when beliefs clash, writing a rebuttal often has little effect. However, I felt it was important to do so because Mr. Totten misread and misinterpreted aspects of my article.

When I mentioned, " the massive pollution of our planet," Mr. Totten discusses how Gary, Ind., has improved air quality. I did not in any way say that pollution has not decreased in some ways. However, I referred to the "planet" and not to Gary, Ind. I would invite Mr. Totten to look at China and the devastating air pollution occurring there. I would ask him to look at Flint, Mich., where, after two years, people are still having to bathe using bottled water because the water source was changed, causing children in particular to be affected mentally and developmentally by high levels of lead in the water. I would invite him to look at how waste disposal around the world is killing marine life.

Have we made improvements? Yes, absolutely. But we have a long way to go. Looking at the issue from strictly an ethnocentric way prevents viewing an issue globally. The devastating nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Japan, is now affecting marine life in the West Coast of the United States and contaminating salmon from Canada.

The second point I would like to make is the derogatory label Mr. Totten affixes to me of being a "tree hugger." Frankly, I would rather hug trees and be grateful for their amazing capacity to provide exquisite natural beauty and provide us with oxygen than not. Yes, there are some environmentalists who are excessive in their demands, but let's not indict all people who are passionate about protecting and being good stewards of our planet.

The third point I would like to make is Mr. Totten's comment about my comment that women should have more control over their bodies. I must say that being a man does not give you that much standing. But be that as it may, you automatically assumed I was talking about abortion. The issue is much broader than that. I think you can agree that many women who are raped often get pregnant. That is not what I consider having control over one's body. Women are now being told that impregnation from rape should not be terminated.

If you look outside of the U.S., you'll see that female genital mutilation is pervasive in certain countries. Child sexual slavery is rampant and it occurs far more with young girls than with males. These are all examples of where a female does not have control over her body.

I also am surprised that Mr. Totten says, "She made that decision (to get pregnant)" and "the condition (getting pregnant) can be avoided, and the choice is up to the woman." You put the blame and responsibility completely onto the woman. I personally know several women who were on contraceptives and became pregnant. And I think we all know that not all pregnancies come from a "choice to get pregnant."

But since Mr. Totten mentioned abortion, I have a couple of things to say. In no way do I feel that those who oppose abortion are wrong. I completely respect their perspective. But if Mr. Totten says that this practice "does not justify taking another life," then why do we bomb and kill innocent women and children around the world? Why do we worry about a tiny fertilized egg but take away Medicaid that helps to feed poor children once they are born? Why do we want to defund Planned Parenthood when 95 percent of the help they provide does not in any way deal with abortion but rather to mostly poor women's health? Why hasn't Congress appropriated money to Flint, Mich., to replace their pipes so children aren't being continuously compromised by increasing lead in their brains and bodies? Why do we wish to balance our budget by slashing the Meals on Wheels program for the elderly and the after-school program for children? These are all valuable lives regardless of their age or income status.

When I worked as a social worker, I witnessed malnourished and abused children whose mothers (and fathers) didn't want them because they could not properly provide for them or were ill-equipped to be a parent. I saw many devastating impacts on children because the financial, emotional, and social circumstances prevented them from being properly cared for. And it broke my heart.

If you feel life is sacrosanct in all circumstances, then fund programs that teach women (and men) to be responsible parents. Work to subsidize childcare so parents can work and not have their entire incomes paid to childcare workers. Fight to stop the death penalty. Encourage legislation that prevents insurance companies from making unfair decisions about the health care they will provide that cause some people to die from those decisions. Don't justify taking a person's life because the hospital's bottom line will be negatively affected or that "an eye for an eye" is a legitimate excuse.

Don't stop caring for the unborn child after it is born. Be consistent. Fight to support those children who are born into untenable situations; support easier access to adopt children instead of putting up unreasonable impediments in the process. Let's be more compassionate towards all children, not just the unborn, and all those who are suffer.

Proverbs 14:31 says, "Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him."

Ashira Young
Milltown, Ind.
April 26, 2017

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Thanks to Crawford County elementary students, parents

The Crawford County Solid Waste District wants to send out a huge "thank you" to our elementary students and their parents for participating in the 2017 Trash Bag Drive. Students did a great job bringing in trash bags!

The classrooms that brought in the most bags per school will receive recognition.

Altogether, the students brought in over 2,000 trash bags.

The trash bag drive is an important component of the Clean Sweep program, providing trash bags for all our clean-up efforts throughout the county.

The winners are: Conrad's kindergarten class at South Crawford Elementary School, Adams' first grade class at West Crawford Elementary School and Campbell's third grade class at East Crawford Elementary School.

Thank you for helping to keep Crawford County Clean!

For more information on the Solid Waste district, please go to www.crawfordcountysolidwaste.org, call 812-338-2728 or stop by the office at 700 S. Indiana Avenue in English.

Crawford County Solid Waste Management District
April 12, 2017

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OCC thanks local area residents

I am writing to thank and celebrate Harrison County area residents for spreading joy to children around the world this Christmas season. The generosity of Harrison County area volunteers, families and groups paved the way for us to collect 14,799 shoebox gifts for the Samaritan's Purse Project Operation Christmas Child — the world's largest Christmas project of its kind.

The gift-filled shoeboxes are tangible expressions of God's love for children around the world suffering from poverty, natural disaster, war, disease and famine. These children, many of whom have never received a gift before, learn they are loved and not forgotten. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 135 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 150 countries and territories.

It's not too late for people to make a difference. Though the Harrison County area drop-off locations are closed until November 2017, filled shoeboxes are collected year-round at the Samaritan's Purse headquarters in Boone, N.C. Additionally, anyone can conveniently pack a personalized Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift at samaritanspurse.org/occ. Information about year-round volunteer opportunities can also be found on the website or by calling Southern Indiana Area Coordinator Sherry Knox at 1-502-552-5311.

Thank you again to everyone who participated in this project and for those who do so year after year. These simple gifts, packed with love, send a message of hope and continue to transform the lives of children worldwide.

Vicki Kittrell, Media Relations Operation Christmas Child
April 05, 2017

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Bringing a community together

I wasn't at the (Crawford County boys' semi-state) game, but watched it on my computer. Just wanted to vocalize my love for Crawford County basketball and the county as a whole! What a great place to live! Great kids raised to be respectful by great people.

The announcers were amazed at the support from our community. People from outside our area wonder what is going on with this "little school" from a 10,000 population community. Yes, of course, we LOVE our basketball, but what they really see is the love and support for each other as a community which transcends the game of basketball. It is just evidenced by the support for our young people.

Families are what make up the county. I see the Benz family (every generation), the Crecelius family (every generation), the Hangers (every generation,) the Broughtons (every generation), the Strouds (every generation) and let's not forget Wade Bell, been there taking pictures since heck was a pup!

Let's not forget the Holzbogs (every generation), the same people and families that were at every game since I played 35 years ago. I cannot name them all (although, I just named half of the county). Oh, let's not forget the Elliotts and every generation you know the other half of the county. Throw the Coxes, Morgans and the Sheltons in there, and I think that covers the whole county! If I missed a last name, please forgive.

Back to the point, to our Crawford County basketball players and cheerleaders, what you have done, and what you are doing, transcends the game of basketball! In this age of computers and separation, you are bringing a community back together as a "family" in support of a single purpose. A state title would be great, but, beyond that, and of greater importance, people, politics, occupations and any trivial divides are healing in the pride and appreciation of how you represent us on the public stage as the Crawford County High School Basketball Team. The New Generation of Crawford County Citizens. That's why I LOVE CRAWFORD COUNTY!

Turner Corn
Leavenworth, Ind.
March 22, 2017

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SB 309 harmful to solar efforts

I'm responding to the March 1, 2017, Clarion article by Indiana Sen. Brandt Hershman, "Utility Fairness for Hoosier Customers," justifying Senate Bill 309. This bill, far from guaranteeing fairness, would crush the solar energy industry in Indiana and deprive Hoosiers of the chance to benefit from the solar boom.

Sen. Hershman's argument against net metering, which pays solar-energy homeowners full market price for the energy they produce, is based on the claim that rooftop solar installed by individual homeowners raises utility rates for other customers. But the study that supports this claim comes from Edison Electric Institute, whose internal documents demonstrate that the organization's focus is increasing profits for the electric industry, not helping ratepayers. Meanwhile, the Brookings Institute reviewed 20 studies nationwide, writing that "(i)n short, while the conclusions vary, a significant body of cost-benefit research conducted by PUCs (public utility companies), consultants, and research organizations provides substantial evidence that net metering is more often than not a net benefit to the grid and all ratepayers."

Sen. Hershman also claims that Hoosiers who invest in solar energy for their homes shift infrastructure costs to their neighbors. But solar users pay a service/infrastructure fee. So, this argument, too, is specious. PV Magazine, which reports on photovoltaic research, writes that "studies in at least 16 states around the country prove that solar customers don't harm non-solar customers. In fact, most studies have found solar customers help non-solar customers by taking pressure off the aging grid. Most recently, the well-respected Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) has recently debunked the zombie lie again."

Here's what Sen. Hershman wants to do to fix these non-existent injustices.

Net-metering, the current process, allows investors to bank the excess energy they generate but don't actually use for their own needs and withdraw it at its full value, just as Hoosiers would bank extra money each month and withdraw it at full value (with interest!) when they need it.

With SB 309, once a homeowner is deemed to have paid off the original investment, the utility takes the excess at wholesale prices, then requires the homeowner to buy his or her own energy back at retail prices, currently 60 percent more than wholesale. This would be equivalent to a bank only returning a customer only 39 cents on the dollar after using her money while it was banked.

To put this in perspective, imagine that I purchase equipment to make and sell widgets. I work until I pay off my investment. At that point, I am suddenly required by law to sell the products I make at a 60 percent discount to the government, which then resells them at full market value.

That the Senate, in passing this bill on to the Indiana House, felt the need to delay it for current customers is an admission of how bad the bill is. Even with the delay, this bill sends a message to people thinking of investing in solar that they will not be allowed to reap the full benefits of their investment. This mindset affects even the co-ops, which are currently exempted from the proposed policies. According to the Brookings Institute, similar legislation in Nevada led to a 92 percent reduction in people investing in solar. As more people in Indiana decide against solar for this reason, a vibrant new industry that could be creating jobs withers; the International Renewable Energy Agency reports that "employment in the U.S. solar business last year grew 12 times faster than overall job creation."

And for Indiana residents, solar prices remain high.

Remember that the utilities Sen. Hershman wants to protect are monopolies. Hoosiers already have almost no choice in the utility marketplace. I urge Hoosiers to call their representatives at 1-800-382-9841 to request that they vote down this bill and preserve what choice is left.

Virginia Anderson
New Salisbury, Ind.
March 15, 2017

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SB 309 creates equitable system

Current Indiana law allows energy customers who generate their own energy to use the electrical grid to send it back to their energy provider and receive a credit that is three to four times higher than what it's actually worth. Because they still need the grid, but get reimbursed so generously, they end up forgoing costs associated to maintain the grid.

This creates a system where other customers pay more for their own energy because of a cost shift. To fix this, Senate Bill 309 was introduced and considered by the Indiana General Assembly. After some initial opposition to the bill, the Indiana Senate amended the bill to allow customers who self-generate to still get a favorable return on their investment, while making sure that other customers aren't paying higher energy bills.

The changes made in the Senate create an equitable system for all customers, and I hope this bill becomes law.

Bill Byrd, Indiana Utilities Shareholder's Association Board Member
Milltown, Ind.
March 15, 2017

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Response to 'Truth vs. belief'

It is always good to read the Opinion page and especially review a featured article by Ashira Young (Feb. 8, 2017), who expresses opinions that provoke thought and evaluation. This week was no different with her article "Truth vs belief." She does a nice summary of the difficulty in sorting out the truth from fiction and how it is related to our beliefs.

Obviously, as a "practitioner of energy psychology" she has some understanding of our belief system and wants to share it with us in a helpful way. She mentions "fake news" and "spin" and the concerns we might get them confused with the truth because there is so much of this in the normal drive-by media we are exposed to daily. As she said, it is true we believe what we see. I take exception to two of the items where she creates "spin."

She states: "We can take some time to delve into what the unintended consequences might be when we clamor after the notion of jobs and forget about the massive pollution of our planet." I read this as a statement that she is stating we have a "massive pollution" in this country today. I will totally disagree with this as a current environmental condition of our United States.

I can remember 50 years ago, when entering some cities, like Gary, Ind., you could smell the city and it was not pretty. That time is long gone due to all the gains businesses have improved in this area. We don't need some grand government program pushed by the "tree huggers" that they are constantly engaged in. I say she is "spinning us" into the lingo of the "tree huggers" of how bad things are, and it is not true. She has exposed her belief system, not the truth. This country needs more high-paying manufacturing jobs, and I know, when created, the companies will have high environmental standards adhered to. No fear of the future from jobs.

The second item: "When we insist on our moral judgments in deference to giving women the power over their bodies." This seems obvious also that she is referring to the now legalized abortion. Never have I heard that a woman's body is also a choice to having intimate relations or not. This is the woman's body. Why is this never said? This act creates another human being; it is not a disease. The condition can be avoided, and the choice is up to the woman. She has power over her own body.

I think that unborn children deserve some consideration, once life occurs, that overrides the woman's power for the abortion. She made that decision, and it created the soon-to-be-born child. Again, I think Ashira is "spinning us" into only part of the circumstances. The whole picture of what a woman has liberty to do to her body. It does not justify taking the life of another human being. I recommend reading the book "Gosnell" by Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer to learn what a crime we have in this country.

This second item may be "T.M.I." — too much information — and so it is difficult weeding through it all. The truth is babies do not just happen and the woman controls whether or not it does. Birth control methods have been a well publicized issue since Obamacare came into being.

Charles A. Totten
Leavenworth, Ind.
March 15, 2017

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Forbes thanked for quilts

Debbie Forbes must be a wonderful person! I would like to commend her for making and donating three quilts to three veterans. Each quilt represented the veteran's branch of service. What a wonderful thing to do!

I would also like to thank her for all the hours she spent making the quilts. The picture in the March 1 Clarion News shows how beautiful they are.

Jerry Ann Piontkowski
New Salisbury, Ind.
March 15, 2017

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Barbara Shaw
Schuler Bauer
2017 Harrison County Fair
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05 - 27 - 17