The Times, Munster. July 28, 2014.
Crown Point is right site for museum
On the 80th anniversary of John Dillinger's death, the Hammond museum with his name was shut down. The museum is moving to Crown Point, closer to the scene of perhaps his most infamous crime — his escape from the Lake County Jail. That's where it belongs. ...
The Dillinger era should be remembered, but not honored. Dillinger was the FBI's Public Enemy No. 1, after all.
At the time, Dillinger became a twisted Robin Hood-type hero for attacking the institutions that failed so many during the Great Depression. But he was a criminal, not a positive role model.
That's not to say the museum shouldn't exist. It should serve as a reminder of the famous outlaw who terrorized Northwest Indiana, along with the rest of the Midwest.
For the last 15 years, the John Dillinger Museum has been housed at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond, right off the Borman Expressway. The museum told of Dillinger's life and times using artifacts, interactive displays and life-size dioramas.
When the museum opens in Crown Point, it will benefit from flat screens, touch screens, digital audio and other interactive technologies that weren't available when the Hammond museum was designed.
If all goes according to plan, the new museum will open by March 3, in time for the 81st anniversary of Dillinger's jailbreak.
The museum is to be located on the first floor of the old Lake County Courthouse, on Crown Point's square.
It is a fitting location, because the old jail is nearby. Restaurants and other businesses in the area are likely to benefit from the tourism generated by the museum.
The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority reached an eight-year agreement with the Lake Court House Foundation to move the museum.
The museum belongs in Crown Point, where the famous escape occurred.
In designing and promoting the museum, make sure it doesn't glorify crime. Instead, continue to honor law enforcement efforts, both then and now.
That's a fitting tribute to Dillinger's victims.
Evansville Courier & Press. July 28, 2014.
EVSC's Pre-K program should be just the start
The Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. has been a pacesetter in launching early childhood education in its public schools.
The level of participation has been limited, with some classes offered in three public schools. That is better than in almost all other public school districts in Indiana. Unfortunately, Indiana is one of the few states that does not offer preschool classes in most of its public schools.
And that is a shame because experts agree that the preschool years are the most fertile for brain development. This is the very time when educators should be reaching out to young children. Indeed, few education programs are more critical than pre-kindergarten.
The start has been slow, but in 2015 Indiana will offer pilot pre-kindergarten classes in five school districts. It is a start.
Of those five districts, the EVSC is one, and in our view, it is a much deserved honor, given that the EVSC gained a head start on most other Indiana counties. Other counties chosen were Allen, Jackson, Lake and Marion.
The program will offer grants to 4-year-old children from low income families and is expected to serve from 1,500 to 5,000 children.
Initially, Vanderburgh will be expected to serve 150 students through the program, but we would hope that in years to come, all Indiana counties can help preschoolers. A pilot program is nice, but we can tell you now that such a program will bring positive results for children fortunate enough to enroll. It's a no-brainer.
South Bend Tribune. July 25, 2014.
Stop spinning wheels and fund highway system
It is important that Congress act quickly to maintain sufficient funding levels in the Highway Trust Fund to pay for necessary highway projects.
Indiana receives more than 40 percent of its total state highway and transit funding from the federal government, according to an Indianapolis Business Journal report. That money is used to match Indiana dollars for highway projects.
While it seems inevitable Congress will ensure the fund's solvency, it needs to address this problem now.
The fund is financed with a per-gallon tax on gasoline. Unless Congress takes action, states could begin to feel the impact of funding cuts by the first week in August -- peak summer driving time. Further delays will only worsen matters.
There are several reasons funding levels have not increased in recent years. Higher fuel-efficiency standards mean vehicles use less gas; people are buying more fuel efficient cars; and they're driving less. A story in the Washington Post reports that between 2007 and 2012, gas use in Indiana dropped 6.34 percent. That translates to less money for road projects.
One of the most significant advantages to attracting new businesses and jobs to Michiana is its central location as a transportation hub for delivery of goods and services.
Our region relies heavily on a highway system that is able to move products quickly and efficiently. Old and new companies have cited Michiana's central location and a strong highway system as reasons for locating or expanding here.
Congress needs to come up with a different funding formula to maintain this country's highway system, because the one communities depend on now for jobs and economic development isn't working.
Tribune-Star, Terre Haute. July 22, 2014.
Work program needs industry buy-in
Good help is hard to find.
That's essentially what Indiana companies have insisted for several years. The state struggles with a "skills gap," the firms explain. They need employees, but can't find enough — or in some cases, any — qualified Hoosiers. Businesses say too few applicants possess the "soft skills," such as showing up for work on time or being able to effectively communicate with co-workers.
The problem is big enough that Gov. Mike Pence and the Indiana Legislature created the Indiana Career Council and Work Councils last year to match education programs with the most needed job skills. In a survey issued this month by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, almost 40 percent of the 500 firms polled said they left jobs unfilled because they couldn't find a qualified prospect, according to an Evansville Courier & Press report.
That's a precarious situation. The ranks of the unemployed grew last month to 6.1 percent in Indiana, up from 5.9 percent in May. In Terre Haute, the jobless rate jumped from 7.6 percent in May to 8.1 percent in June. The skills gap clearly is hard to close.
Hoosier businesses can find a solid example of a remedy in the Vigo County School Corp.'s Career and Technical Education program. This plan goes beyond the talk, complaints and hopes. It lets the rubber hit the road, as the phrase goes, in the quest to prepare young people for Indiana jobs.
The project allows high school seniors to take career-related classes in the morning and work at a job in that field later in the day. It differs from cooperative education in which students completed courses first and then worked related occupations. By studying and working in the same school term, students can go back to teachers to ask questions about the previous day's job experiences. Some positions may be paid, others unpaid.
Last Wednesday, representatives of Vigo County Public Library, Joink, Novelis, Fastenal, the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce, Ivy Tech and WorkOne listened to the school district's tech ed director, Doug Dillion, explain the work-based learning program. The session gave potential employers a chance to ask relevant questions, such as whether firms could interview students before their placement in a job and the legalities of hiring and screening under-age-18 employee candidates. The honest feedback from businesses should help the school district fine-tune the program.
"We need buy-in from industry," Dillion told the Tribune-Star's Sue Loughlin. "We need industry's help."
The private sector voices have been widely heard in the Statehouse and beyond. The governor and the General Assembly leadership pay keen attention to those corporations and businesses and react with relative speed. So, with a local school district unveiling a plan to address the workforce needs of the state and the community, it would be heartening see to the response by Wabash Valley employers, large and small, grow.
Dillion invited firms interested in participating in the VCSC work-based learning program to contact him by phone at 812-462-4470 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Every success story produced by the program will help that particular young person, the business that hired the student, Terre Haute and the state.