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February 27, 2014

An example of legislative foolishness or political brilliance?

Dear Editor,
I thought Kathy Heuer, my State Rep in district 83, was someone who would stand on principle.  I am very disappointed that Rep Heuer tried to deny Hoosiers the opportunity to vote on Indiana’s definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.  Rep Heuer first voted to remove a key sentence from the resolution, which watered down its effectiveness.  It leaves the door open for those who have same sex civil unions or legal partnerships to have equal legal status in the application of all Indiana state laws.  Meaning, We The People of Indiana are still forced to recognize and give credence to same sex marriage. 
The real atrocity is that Rep Heuer voted against the people making the decision.  Once approved by both houses, amendments to the Indiana Constitution must be voted on by citizens of Indiana in a general election.  Her vote against the final resolution denied the people the opportunity to decide.
The public must be made aware that after voting to change and render the amendment useless, she then voted against the final resolution that contained the changes she supported. 
This is an example of legislative foolishness or political brilliance.  Often the two are one in the same.  Coupled with our opposing stances on this issue, and denying the people the opportunity to decide, I see no justification for Kathy Heuer to continue to represent the people of district 83.

Bill Willcutts
Fort Wayne

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February 06, 2014

Commissioners: Clearing up confusion about emergency levels

By Commissioners George Schrumpf, Don Amber and Tom Rethlake 

As we write this Commissioner’s update, spring is forty-one days away and according to Mr. Groundhog, more cold snowy days are ahead.  I’m sure we are all looking forward to the snow replaced with green grass and warm sunny days.
Along with “cabin fever," during our week of snow emergencies, there was also frustration and incorrect information throughout the county.  The past weeks have been difficult for our highway workers and law enforcement officials in clearing the roads for 30,000 Whitley County residents as quickly as possible.  Many hours were also spent in assisting motorists who had ventured out only to end up stuck in the snow.
We would be remiss if we did not extend a huge thank you to our highway workers, law enforcement and community corrections officials and the Emergency Management Department for the many hours of hard work and extra efforts extended to keep our county safe and operating as much as possible.
At the top of our agenda for our February 3rd Commissioners meeting was to clear-up incorrect information as to the emergency level designated by the county and the meaning of each level.  In the past, we have used numerical emergency levels (1, 2, and 3). Those levels will be replaced with warning, watch and advisory, which will allow us to be consistent with statewide levels. 

Advisory: All travel is permitted with caution on county roads.

Watch: Only necessary travel, including to and from work.

Warning: Travel restricted and for emergency only.  Law enforcement may ticket travelers when this level is issued. 

As in the past, these levels will be posted on the county website at www.whitleygov.com and all other media outlets.
Much attention has been given to Governor Pence and the Indiana Legislative Leaders in regards to the elimination of the Business Personal Property Tax.  Numerous publications have consistently ranked Indiana 1st in the Midwest in Business Climate and Top 10 in the nation for Business Tax Climate.  On January 10th, our Governor stated that “Indiana is the best state in the nation to start or grow a business.”  This statement seems to be very contradictory to the elimination of business personal property tax.  Last week, the Indiana Senate-SB1 and House 1001 both passed.  Senator Banks, Representatives Ober and Heuer also voted in favor of this bill.  As a result, Whitley County Government and Entities, all county libraries and our school corporations will receive approximately three million dollars less in state funding.
Numerous local government and school boards have sent letters to Governor Pence and State Legislators regarding the impact it will have on counties financially if this bill was passed.  It appears that our Resolution 2014-1 fell on deaf ears once again.  We will continue to watch this bill and if it becomes a law in July.

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February 04, 2014

New extension educator looks forward to serving Whitley County growers

By John Woodmansee 

Hello and welcome from the new guy in Whitley County. My name is John Woodmansee. I am the new Extension Educator working in agriculture and natural resources – half-time in Whitley County, and half-time in Noble County. My name is pronounced just like it is spelled, with three small words: “wood,” “man,” and “see,” with the accent on the first syllable.
I grew up on a family farm in Grant County. We raised corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, hay, hogs, cattle and rabbits. From time to time we had a horse or two.
I received my undergraduate degree in agricultural education from Purdue University, and my graduate degree was also from Purdue in vocational education. I taught high school agriculture at Batesville High School for three years. Following that, I was involved with full-time youth ministry with Youth For Christ for eight years. Following my tenure in youth ministry, I wanted to get involved again in agriculture and did this by landing a job with The Andersons at their Logansport Erny's Fertilizer wholesale plant. I was production coordinator there for a year and a half. I started in Extension back in 1996, and have worked in Fountain and Grant Counties.
Agriculture is strong in Whitley County, ranking in the top one-third of Indiana counties in wheat, alfalfa hay, milk cows, hogs and sheep. Other crops and livestock rank among the top two-thirds of Indiana counties. Pasture and woodland acres also rank highly.
While the public at large may notice the larger farms in Whitley County, there are a significant number of small farms. My desire is to work with the full spectrum of producers in Noble County, and I believe there are great educational opportunities to assist smaller farms.
My main goal in working here in Whitley County is to serve local educational needs. In addition to the opportunities I mentioned with small farms, I also foresee potential for education in forage production, pasture improvement, on-farm row-crop research, woodlands, wildlands, ponds, and many other areas. I also hope to be a valuable resource to homeowners, assisting with pest issues, garden problems, yard problems, and tree/shrub problems. There may be occasions where I could offer programs to lakefront owners on best management practices for lawns and for tree/shrub pruning. And, I plan to offer the popular Master Gardener program and enable local Master Gardeners to continue their great service in the county. I plan to use an advisory committee to help identify local educational needs on a semi-annual basis.
While my agricultural background is fairly diverse, I have developed somewhat of a specialty in helping homeowners with tree and shrub issues. I can also offer programs in tree identification.
So, while I am new to Whitley County, I am certainly not new to agriculture, natural resources, or to Purdue Extension. I look forward to learning more, and meeting the many individuals, groups and businesses that support this great industry.

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