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ACLU applauds Supreme Court ruling

"No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

It is so ordered."

— Supreme Court of the United States,

Obergefell v. Hodges, October 26, 2015

The June 26 historic decision is a joyous one for same-sex couples across the nation and for everyone who wants to participate fully in our society and enter, in front of friends and family, into the lifelong commitment of marriage with the person they love. The Supreme Court's decision recognizes that the Constitution's promise of fairness and equality extends the fundamental right to marry to all loving couples and it affirms the values of the strong, growing majority of Americans — 60 percent, as recently reported by Gallup — who support the freedom to marry.

The American Civil Liberties Union has been on the cutting edge of America's many advances for equality over the last 95 years. We recognize that hesitancy and discomfort and downright resistance are the frequent traveling companions of change. Our country has weathered these challenges by looking to our shared values and calling upon the better angels of our nature. And we can again. Over the last two years, with our debates about the state constitutional amendment HJR-3 and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Indiana has been in the epicenter of a rapidly evolving understanding of justice and equality. However painful this process, we are each better persons and together a better people for the effort. We can embrace this next step in the arc toward justice, guided by our hearts and our Constitution.

As the RFRA storm proved and a recent poll confirmed, most Hoosiers are ready for full equality for our LGBT neighbors, friends and loved ones. We are not alone. A strong majority of Americans, nearly 70 percent, supports protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.

Yet, people are often surprised to realize that under the laws of most states, including Indiana, it is still legal to fire a hardworking employee, deny them an apartment, deny them service in a restaurant or otherwise discriminate against them simply because they are LGBT. Nobody should have to live in fear of being legally fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance, or for exercising their freedom to marry.

The ACLU will work with the people and business community of Indiana to update our state's civil rights law — which already includes protections from discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, sex, age and religion — to also protect people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Congratulations to happy couples everywhere! And, let's take this next step for equality together: Let's work toward the day when our LGBT family, neighbors, co-workers and friends cannot be discriminated against, because Indiana's civil rights law protects them, along with other vulnerable groups. Indiana is a good place, and Hoosiers are good people. Let's show the world we truly do welcome all.

Jane Henegar, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana
July 08, 2015

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Time for an old-fashioned protest rally

Let's all meet at the Crawford County courthouse on Tuesday, July 14, next council meeting, and have an old-fashioned "the whole world is watching" protest rally. Why? The NEW Crawford County Council doesn't comprehend that the purpose of the county government is to provide SERVICES to the people such as roads, public safety, paramedic ambulances, etc., not cater to the whims of a business.

By voting to not fund the proposed HCH ambulance service, the county council has denied the public a potential lifesaving SERVICE. Without a public outcry, the council may vote against another potential lifesaving SERVICE, the Carefree medical clinic, for two reasons:

1. The cost (it's basically FREE).

2. Per Mr. Bartels' editorial, a local business opposes it.

Another possible reason the NEW county council opposes lifesaving services was alluded to in Mr. Bartels' editorial. They want to save up your tax dollars so they can build a "Field of Dreams" shell building, which will provide no SERVICES to the public.

Would someone please inform the county council that none of them look like Kevin Costner. Then, ask them, "What will you do if you build it and nobody comes?"

If you supported the HCH paramedic ambulance proposal, support the Carefree medical clinic. Contact the county council and voice your opinion; it counts. A loud public outcry could save the medical clinic and, like Lazarus, bring the paramedic ambulance service back from the dead.

Contact information for the council and how they voted on the HCH proposal follows:

William Breeding (D) — For — 812-633-4493

Jerry Brewer (D) — For — 812-365-2804

Mark Stevens (R) — Against — 812-365-2692

Lucas Stroud (R) — Against — 812-633-2098

Republicans Joe Lahue and Steve Bartels and Democrat Doug McLain voted against HCH but have unlisted phone numbers.

A message for the councilmen who have unlisted numbers can be left at the Auditor's office at 1-800-548-5375 or 1-812-338-2601.

The public must presume that the council members who have unlisted numbers want the money and prestige (snicker, snicker) that comes with a public job but do not want to deal with the public.

Council Vice President William Breeding and former council President Jerry Brewer are to be commended for voting for lifesaving SERVICES.

Breeding, Brewer, Stevens and Stroud are also to be commended for having the fortitude to have a listed number and listen to the concerns of us little people.

As stated earlier, let's meet at the courthouse at the next council meeting in July and have an old-fashioned protest rally. If you come, bring a sign on a stick with a catchy slogan to chant that the TV networks will broadcast. One phrase that comes to mind is, "You and shell can go to hell."

Thank you for allowing me to exercise my right to free political speech.

Gary Robinson
Marengo, Ind.
July 01, 2015

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Impressed with Carson

It's such a reassuring pleasure to discover someone who is not from the political class and is a creditable citizen finally running for president. Dr. Ben Carson, a man of integrity and honor, has no problem at all with criticizing Republicans and Democrats who promote wrong-headed policies and positions. I appreciate the common-sense wisdom he brings to his analysis of the broad, significant problems seriously challenging our country.

"That engine (capitalism) is still in place, and, if the original vision can be restored, that engine could restart and quickly obliterate our national debt while helping our nation reclaim its rightful position of leadership and respect throughout the world. Our ability to care for the indigent would also be considerably enhanced, and the number of indigent would be significantly decreased in a thriving job market," Dr. Carson said.

"Proverbs 29: 18 says, 'Without a vision, the people perish.' If a society doesn't have a shared understanding of its goals, it cannot move forward. To aimlessly drift along while reacting to events is a recipe for disaster."

The "original vision" to which he referred above, was the moral capitalist model established by the founding generation. It was an ethical, virtuous system with individual accountability and compassion.

Dr. Carson seriously questions the destructive, unethical strands politicians have embedded within the economy. He views with great disdain the development of crony capitalism which is destroying the economy. He finds no place for the government's Plunge Protection Team that leave us without markets that can no longer be characterized as free. This candidate sees as unjust the Fed Reserve policies that systematically programs rising wealth inequality into our system. He abhors the soft bigotry of liberal dependency that condemns the poor to a life of poverty, rather than compassionately providing for the independence and dignity of able-bodied adults contributing to the economy in pursuit of their dreams.

If you are unfamiliar with this man, google Dr. Ben Carson's YouTube videos and prepare yourself to observe a genuine human being capable of wisely leading, with a unifying vision, one nation under God.

Michael Lewinski
Dubois, Ind.
June 10, 2015

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Kids need to be kids

I am writing to see if anyone can tell me why teenagers or any children can stand up or sit and tell their parents what they are going to do.

I am a 58-year-old woman and I think parents and anybody a teenager has contact with should show them respect, not tell them to kiss their butts and they can do what they want, and you cannot punish them for it.

If you smack them on the behinds with your hand and not leave any marks, the child will say, "They abused me." Also, they will say any man in your life, no matter who, touched them inappropriately just to get the adult in trouble. And, when the truth does come out, the adult has already been in jail and went to court and maybe even prison.

Also, they are not going to get around me that way. I am a grandma of five grandchildren. Also, my two oldest grandchildren do not talk to me or ask me dumb crap.

My 15-year-old asked me, she asked me, "The next time I come down for the weekend, Grandma, can my boyfriend come and stay the weekend, too?"

My answer was, "Are you insane? You must be stupid if (you think) I will ever allow that. Even your 42-year-old mother would not even ask that."

No means no.

Kids need to be kids. They need to have places to get together and not have sex, use drugs, drink booze or get into trouble. But I have yet to read or hear any place for teenagers to play pool or swim in a pool, roller-skate or do anything we did when we were kids.

Thanks for letting me sound off.

Pamela Pridemore
English, Ind.
June 10, 2015

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Time to move forward with HCH EMS

As a retired registered nurse with 34 years of experience in hospital nursing, I have serious concerns with our BLS (Basic Life Support) level of care by Crawford County EMS.

I began going to Crawford County Council and Crawford County Commissioners' meetings approximately one year ago after I read an article in the Clarion News indicating Crawford County was exploring either outsourcing our ambulance service or returning to a BLS instead of an ALS (Advanced Life Support) service. I have known for a long time the state of Indiana was "overhauling" the different levels of training related to Advanced EMT requirements.

As I began to investigate, I became aware that, while our ambulance service sometimes offered an advanced level of care, many times all we had available was BLS. While I do not doubt our county EMS staff are very committed and caring professionals, the BLS level of care is no longer the Standard of Care in the United States. Our country has some of the best, if not the best, medical technologies in the world. I asked myself why the county would choose to offer only a BLS level of medical care in the pre-hospital setting for its citizens. Why our BLS EMTs often must request intercepts for advanced level of pre-hospital care for their patients, which frequently occurs alongside the highway while in route to the nearest hospital. It is unfortunate and avoidable. In the worse cases, it can lead to loss of life; in lesser cases, debilitating illness or injury worsened by delayed paramedic intervention. These paramedic intercepts are necessary, often lifesaving, but could be available for patients on first contact, drastically reducing the time to a higher standard of medical care.

As I learned more, I discovered we had an adjoining county paramedic EMS willing to take over management of our service, thus offering us a significantly higher level of care without losing our identity. For a year now, I have watched and listened to proposals, counter proposals, our elected officeholders researching, asking tough questions and exploring different proposals. And yet, we still have a Basic Life Support Service in Crawford County. At this point, I feel compelled to ask for public input into this issue. If you feel you deserve a higher level of medical care in pre-hospital situations for your family and friends, let your elected council members know now. For a year now, the Crawford County commissioners have thoroughly studied, researched and investigated the different options available. They have determined, after careful consideration, that the proposal from Harrison County paramedic EMS is the best choice. They have now requested funding from the Crawford County council for this in our county.

Funding appears to be the issue. While the dollar amount proposed seems to be high, at first glance, it should be noted that Crawford County will no longer bear the burden of salaries and benefits for the EMS staff. Those employees would be employed by Harrison County Hospital (with similar, if not better benefits). Therefore, the cost of salaries and benefits for employees currently paid by Crawford County would help offset the fees charged by Harrison County Hospital. Additionally, Crawford County keeps the ability to bill for a higher level of EMS service. We lose the overhead and gain the revenue and a much better standard of care. It is a win-win situation. It has been argued that there is no guarantee current EMS staff will be hired by Harrison County Hospital. If the present staff meets the requirements, then it is "likely" they will be hired and receive the necessary training. However, if they do not meet those requirements, they will need to become more proficient on their own or seek other employment. Do we really want someone who is not willing to meet the requirements for their position providing emergency care anyway? Lives are at stake. No job is ever guaranteed.

In addition, there has been discussion regarding contracting with for-profit EMS services. From working in hospitals for over three decades, part of that time in the emergency room, I know beyond doubt being affiliated with a hospital service (as we would be with Harrison County Hospital EMS) will be a higher standard of care than a for-profit service. These services, while requiring the same certifications, have higher turnover in personnel, less training, less experience and likely less technical practice. Ask yourself, if your son or daughter needs to be intubated (have a breathing tube) after a tragedy, would you prefer someone doing it that has practiced in a classroom and maybe seen one or two intubations? Or someone who had intubated on an accident scene and likely performed numerous such techniques? You are much more likely to receive that with a hospital-based service, simply because their focus is different.

Harrison County EMS is one of only 25 EMS services in our state with accreditation with the National Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. I am certainly not trying to belittle free-

standing for-profit services, but, from my personal experience, I know who I want responding to an accident scene or to my home when my family member needs immediate pre-hospital care.

Should we delay this decision while we continue to provide substandard care? Should we try to train from within, when we have tried this tactic repeatedly without success? Should we only offer Basic Life Support to the citizens of Crawford County and keep trying to come up with a solution? I think not. Not when we have available to us a paramedic service from an adjoining county, affiliated with a hospital, willing to provide the service right now and the only reason we are not doing it is a few thousand dollars. If it is your loved one, what level of care would you want?

Linda Apple
Crawford County
June 03, 2015

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Duty calls for research of clinics

I find it my duty as a county official to dig for the necessary information and push for detailed answers to the hard questions in order to make the best possible decisions. When the council, both Democrats and Republicans, are working to discover the facts are wrongfully labeled as difficult, or some other derogatory term by those who would choose to gloss over the financial details of the decision at hand, such mislabeling is a great disservice to our community and to the governmental process. This is the case in debate with our proposed health clinic. With regard to the opinion article "There is room for two clinics," I would respectfully suggest we examine the matter more closely.

Most residents still do not know that the Health Care Clinic at Jasper Engines & Transmissions (JET) is open to the public and has been for years. JET and the clinic has requested to place adequate signage at the entrance to the industrial park for several years, only being allowed a 6-by-24-inch sign.

A statement was made that, "We are getting this at no cost." There is always a cost. That cost is incurred either through higher expenses or by a loss in revenue. Another statement followed by saying "benefit people's lives without costing them any tax money." That is a totally flawed conclusion.

The article stated that I seemed to suggest that we (Crawford County) should consult JET on the use of the county's Tax Increment Financing (TIF). I say, absolutely YES. We should do that not only for JET (100-percent employee-owned company), but also for any other business that pays the TIF. As an elected official, I feel it is my duty to represent both taxpayers and non-taxpayers. Those paying the tax (whether personal property tax, property tax, TIF or any other taxes) opinions should at least be represented. To ignore such citizens, and fail to represent their views at counsel, would be letting them down.

Because the project is using tax money, because the county will own the property, because the county will have to form a building corporation, because this corporation will have to have a mortgage, because the project proposal will not pay any TIF, personal property tax on equipment, nor property tax, because the project may have financial consequences, I want to ask every possible question I can (as I will with any shell building or other development), so everyone can make a well-informed decision.

A mistake was made by insinuating there is a "seeming rejection of free market competition." Google, Wikipedia or Bing "free market" and the one thing that all the definitions have in common is the understanding that a free market is "without intervention of government."

I understand that health care is important to economic development. Most people are still not aware there has been a clinic open to the public for years in the industrial park. When I asked the question at the last council meeting if the current clinic had been promoted to prospective developers, the first response was "no." That statement was subsequently rescinded. I think it is safe to say that, if our citizens in need do not know about the clinic, or what it has to offer, no other companies or site selectors would.

It seems a few people are continually set on spending money without all the details that make up the long-term big picture outcome. It is a reckless course that must have a day of reckoning if not restrained. Nor I or the council wants to make decisions of consequence without knowing all the facts in adequate detail. I can see it would be easy to get on the "go ahead wagon." I am a big supporter of competition and "giving people a choice," but, when it comes to government-sponsored and funded competition, I have reservations and questions about the real costs that must be paid.

If health care costs, quality of care and facility ratings are a foundation for choice, then I recommend people go to www.mycareINsight.org. This site is hosted by the Indiana Hospital Association. It provides detailed listings of hospital quality and price so people can compare and understand one facility as compared to another in terms of quality and cost. Citizens can directly compare facilities in our area and all over the state. Information is power. Not having information only leads to costly mistakes.

If choice and competition are at the forefront for two clinics, then should the county not at least put this project out for bid? There is no question that TIF is tax money. These funds are being used to pay attorney fees, architectural fees, building corporation set-up fees, etc., then once again there is no question this is a government-funded and sponsored project, not "free market."

I hope the lease agreement will answer and confirm discussions and other questions the council has. There is no substitute for an information-based understanding to make the best decision.

Finally, I would like to say that even if there was not already a clinic in the industrial park, I would still be asking the same questions. That is because I feel the need to truly understand the details of any prospective program before I vote to spend any tax dollars on it. Questions don't make me for or against anything. Facts, figures and answers to the details of any given program guide that decision.

Stephen R. Bartels, President of the Crawford County Council
June 03, 2015

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Dependency: the nation killer

More and more, progressive government controls us through dependence on the state. In the process, they are destroying the country by robbing people of their ambition, independence, pride and self esteem, while all the while undermining the economy.

"The primary cause of their poverty and dependency on government are the policies implemented by liberal politicians which have destroyed the family unit, promoted deviant behavior, encouraged the production of bastard children, eliminated the need for personal responsibility, provided no consequences for bad life choices and bankrupted the nation, " said an article from The Burning Platform. "The rise of the welfare state has coincided with the decline of the American state. The proliferation of welfare programs has broken down the behaviors, social norms and cultural standards that lead to self-reliance, generating a pattern of growing inter-generational reliance upon government handouts. By undermining productive social norms, welfare creates a need for even greater succor in the future."

To further elaborate upon the damage liberal social policies have inflicted upon America, I give you the words of a wise man.

Dr Ben Carson recently said, "(S)tarting in the '60s with the Great Society programs we figured if we just threw money at the problem, when we had all these welfare programs we could solve the problem. What has happen since then? In 1969, 1.4 percent of our population was on food stamps. Today, more that 14 percent are on food stamps, a 10-fold increase. We have more broken families, out-of-wedlock births, incarceration, crime. Everything that these programs were suppose to fix has gotten worse."

His proscription for fixing the problem: "What real compassion is, is using our intellect to find ways to allow those people to climb out of dependency and realize the American Dream."

Dr. Carson further elaborated, "We need to find a way to strengthen the fabric of this country, and it is our responsibility to take care of the indigent, it is not the government responsibility."

As I said before, if we're going to heal our land, we need to return to the Constitution and the Judeo-Christian values that once made us prosperous and great.

Michael Lewinski
Dubois, Ind.
May 13, 2015

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Planting trees, rebuilding communities, restoring hope

As the nation celebrates Arbor Day on Friday, let's reflect on the value of trees, and highlight the important ability of trees to restore hope, bring healing and lift spirits following natural disasters. Trees are vital to successful, long-term recovery efforts — from a critical conservation recovery perspective, and also when considering the emotional healing and recovery of people and the fabric of a community.

Trees bring hope and healing, raising the spirits of residents who suffered the loss of their cherished trees. Many shared a similar sentiment as that of the good people of Mississippi. When asked why he came for the trees, one resident responded, "So, I can bring life back."

Trees serve many purposes. They are very much a part of the fabric of life and of the community. Trees provide both physical and emotional landmarks — marking childhood adventures, romantic walks and lazy Saturday afternoon picnics, among others. Trees evoke memories and help to establish a sense of place, meaning and belonging. Putting trees into people's hands following loss serves to lift spirits, restore hope and help to begin the healing process. On this Arbor Day, it is important that we recognize that trees are vital infrastructure just like our roads and our bridges.

Disasters such as wildfires, tornadoes, windstorms and floods wreak havoc upon both our physical and emotional landscapes. The comfort and security — the sense of place provided by our trees — is dramatically altered, and sometimes even erased. New trees bring hope and are part of the holistic recovery of a community following a natural disaster.

After Superstorm Sandy, residents of New Jersey experienced first-hand the hope and healing brought forth by new trees. One said, "More and more communities are engaged. We are on the road to recovering our precious tree canopy, one tree at a time."

The need for an orchestrated disaster response that includes providing new trees to communities in need is today more important than ever due to increased threats of severe storms and wildfires. When natural disasters strike, our partners on the ground, including state foresters across the nation, are poised to respond and ready to provide new trees through the generous support of our caring members and partners. 2015 Community Tree Recovery campaigns are visible across the country in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington. Trees are part of the recovery process. Together, we can continue to bring life back through trees.

In Texas, a local official helped plant new trees to replace trees lost in the devastating 2011 wildfires. He said, "As we plant these trees we're helping people to know that life goes on and things can be restored."

Arbor Day reminds us all to plant, nurture and celebrate trees.

Let's continue to plant trees whose benefits will be enjoyed not only by us, but also by our nation's children and grandchildren.

On this Arbor Day, let's appreciate the trees for their important role in helping to establish a sense of place, meaning and belonging; for serving as both physical and emotional landmarks that define important milestones along life's journey; and for being so seamlessly, intricately woven deeply into the rich fabric of our life and our community.

Please join me and thousands of others as we continue to work directly with our state forestry leaders on the ground to put trees into people's hands following the loss caused by natural disasters, so that we may lift spirits, restore hope and help to begin the healing process.

Dan Lambe, President of the Arbor Day Foundation
April 22, 2015

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Assault on Christianity

Christians in Indiana are under assault from secular progressives hell-bent upon destroying any individual expression of their faith beyond the walls of churches. And maybe not even there, given the fact that the federal government is still trying to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to assent to the provision of abortion-inducing drugs through their health care plans.

On April 2, the Indiana Legislature and Gov. Mike Pence stripped away from the Indiana Constitution the individuals' right of conscience. "This proposal," wrote Tony Perkins, "would force religious businesses to participate in wedding ceremonies contrary to their owners' beliefs." The Indiana fix is now going to allow the government to financially ruin people whose owners follow their consciences by refusing to participate in same sex weddings.

It is a sad state of affairs that the leadership in the Christian community has been missing in action in defense of religious liberty. Following the secular progressive's campaign to mischaracterize the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as a vehicle for enabling discrimination, where were the pastors, priests, rabbis, elders and bishops standing up for the right of religious opinions or the right not to interfere with matters of conscience? They were nowhere to found when the politicians nullified Article 1, Section 3 of the Indiana Constitution.

Like most of the politicians in Indianapolis who were bullied and threatened by the harsh tactics of the radical left, our Christian leaders are intimidated and browbeaten by the progressive, hard left. Rather than publicly defending their theology and their flocks' right of conscience, they fear the "politically correct" police labeling them as homophobes or anti-woman.

With secular progressives more aggressively engaging in anti-religious effort to shut town Christianity, this is but nothing more than another element of their effort to transform America. If you like ripping right of conscience from our constitution, you're going to love future "hate speech" laws where speaking "politically incorrect" biblical truths lands you in jail. Christians must fight back and insist our representatives repeal the fix to defend the faith even if our leaders won't.

Michael Lewinski
Dubois, Ind.
April 08, 2015

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Bills would concentrate power in Indianapolis

Feb. 4, 2015

I was under the impression that the Republican party was all about smaller government, yet bills have been introduced in this legislative assembly that will concentrate all power and authority in Indianapolis.

Senate Bill 249 states that no county or township shall enact any type of ordinance prohibiting a CAFO or CFO. At present, those large buildings, housing thousands of animals and their tons of manure, can be as close as 500 feet from a residence. You can go to www.in.gov/idem/4994.htm to read what they do and don't regulate and to see if the IDEM has issued any permits for your area.

House Bill 1321 does the same for fracking. Fracking is a type of oil or gas well, where water and chemicals are pumped into the ground, fracturing the subterranean rock so that the oil or gas can be extracted. This type of drilling has been known to contaminate neighboring wells and has been linked to minor earthquakes in several states. You can read all about it on www.dangeroffracking.com.

House Bill 1290 nullifies all EPA regulations and puts our protection from industrial pollution of CAFOs and fracking into the hands of a politically appointed board (www.in.gov/idem/6815.htm).

House Bill 1351 nullifies all local ordinances restricting CAFOs and/or fracking.

You can read these bills by going to www.iga.in.gov/legislative/2015/bills.

It seems that this legislative body is putting business and economic development above the welfare of those Hoosiers affected. By giving the state government all control, we lose our right to have any say. Once a right is lost, it is very hard to get it back. One by one, rights can be removed and, when people realize what has happened, it's too late. So, contact your state legislatures at www.iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators and make your thoughts known. If you don't come to the aid of your neighbor, who will come to your aid when you need it?

Harold Wilson
Corydon, Ind.
February 18, 2015

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Schuler Bauer
Barbara Shaw
Riggs Towing
08 - 03 - 15