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May 20, 2015

Commissioners share update on county projects

Believe it or not, in about 40 days, one half of the year 2015 will have passed by.
It is time to give the residents of Whitley County an update on county business.  County roads are the number one concern ofours and county residents.  We take all road complaints seriously and our highway employees attempt todo their best to eliminate those complaints.  The highway department has some 20 miles of new construction to begin soon and end by October 15th.
We continue to work with Allen County Commissioners and their highway department on dates of County Line Road being closed due to a weakening of the bridge under structure.  We have posted a 9 ton load limit on the bridge.  Whitley County has 90 bridges to look after.  Because of the amount of traffic, this bridge is at the top of the replacement list.  Expenses will be share by both counties.
Another road project that we are aware of is the future state of highway US 30. Commissioner Schrumpf has been representing the County on this US 30 Bypass project.  The total project is still in the preliminary stages.
Past publications of county newspapers have mentioned that Commissioners and the Whitley County Health Department are creating a Whitley County Regional Sewer District.  We have discussed this possibility with professionals, however, we have not come to any decision on this matter.  State Statute IC B-26 and State IDEM are mandates-mandates-mandates!  We certainly will keep county residents informed as we look to the future.
We were able to purchase a power lift for our County File Management Department.  This lift will be a big help in storing 25-30 lb. boxes on high shelves.  Currently, a ladder is being used.  Contributions from the County Clerk’s Office and Prosecutor’s Office was a big help in the purchase of this lift. 
Now from the “Did you know file?”
1. Since state eliminated county inheritance tax, it has cost Whitley County $3,000,000.
2. On May 20, 2015, 3rd graders from Mary Raber School will visit the County Government Center and County Courthouse.
3. Inmate beds at Whitley County Jail remain at 104.
4. New x-ray machine will soon be installed at the County Courthouse for better security.
5. Our Community Corrections Department is considered to be one of the Top 3 in the state.
6. There were 582 drug-related arrests in our county last year.
On a brighter note, congratulations to all 2015 graduating seniors and eight graders on taking another step toward a successful and prosperous life.  Just remember, “Those who are crazy enough to think theycan change the world usually do.”
In closing, remember, although the school buses will be off the roads for summer vacation, farmers will be moving their big machinery down the roads.  Give them a break and they will appreciate it.

Tom Rethlake
Whitley County Commissioner

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May 18, 2015

Business owner shares perspective on pig wrestling at the local 4-H Fair


I am writing this in response to the posts on pig wrestling. I would like to say first off myself and a friend are the ones putting on several of the pig wrestling at most of the Northern Indiana County fairs. We too have heard some of the things said on the negative side of pig wrestling. However most people complaining have not been to see one of the our pig wrestling's. When we do a pig wrestling there are rules for the safety of the animal (we do referee the event). I would like to give you a list of the rules.
1. No pig may be snared by the mouth, tail, ears or flipped over on its back.
2. The pig's head must remain above the water at all times.
3. To catch the pig you must stop the forward motion of the pig and pick the pig straight up. The pig is then to be sat on top of a padded barrel in the center of the ring. (Not in a barrel). Any throwing of the pig or slamming the pig on the barrel in anyway results in disqualification and a forfeit an entry fees.
4. Each team is allowed 45 seconds to catch the pig, if you do not catch the pig within that time frame you will receive a no time and the contest will stop.
5. Once any part of the pig is touching the barrel and all 4 feet off the ground a whistle is blown and the clock is stopped. Once the whistle is blown, the pig must be gently setback down on the ground and return to the pen. Any abusive action as far as throwing or pushing a pig off the barrel results in disqualification.
6. Officials will stop a team at any time for roughness, foul language, or inappropriate behavior. This is final!
We got into this event because it was the most well attended event at our fair. It has also been one of the most popular for every other fair that we've gone to with the average county fair profiting $8,000 to $10,000 to go back towards promoting the 4-H fair.
One of the positive things about this event it is it is one of the most family friendly events that we can use to promote our 4-H fair. Most contestants are 4-H's, 4-H families and those with experience around livestock.
We to have seen some of the articles written to some of the newspapers. Every county fair we attended last year made the comment that the pig wrestling show had the grandstands the most full of any other event they've done. When we take this in to consideration more local people support it than oppose it.
There have also been comments that several pigs have been injured and had legs broken or were paralyzed. Last year we ran 523 teams through total at our pig wrestling events. Not one pig was injured nor did we lose any pigs.
Also it needs to be known that these pigs are raised outside 24 hours a day on pastures (not caged pacing back and forth like zoo animals their whole life), they are jogged every day. They are some of the most fit and healthiest pigs you will find.
What we are doing is no different than a rodeo contractor. Taking the absolute best care of our animals, conditioning them, accustoming them to people and being handled and asking them to work for 45 seconds. Last year all the pigs used in the pig wrestling event were processed in the fall at local butchers. Out of 80 pigs, we had zero cut out for bruising on any one pig.
I have an open invitation to anyone, to come see how these pigs are cared for. As well as attend one of our pig wrestling events to see how we actually run it. We are not doing it in Indiana the way some of the other states have done shoving pigs headfirst into a steel barrel with no limit on time and no rules to safely restrain the pig.
May it also be known, we have had several new counties contact us this year because they are all losing money during their fair and they're trying to come up with new ways to have a profitable fair to benefit their 4-H program.
It saddens me to see that some take a stance on this without knowing the facts nor attending any of the events that we have done. Please don't base your opinion by reading any thing written by those who oppose it. They do not state any of the facts. The pigs do not have any substance on them and they are not piglets. They weigh close to 300 pounds (for the adult teams). They are not shoved into barrels and none have been injured in any way. They are in their environment and have the advantage! The humans however do not.
Also it needs to be known that pigs squeal, they squeal if you touch them and they squeal when they touch each other.

Thank you for your time,
Kyle Bailey

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May 13, 2015

Eliminating the pig wrestling event at the Whitley County 4-H Fair 2015


The four values of …
·         Head – giving, working
·         Heart – relating, caring
·         Hands – giving, working
·         Health – being, living
… are not reflected in the Pig Wrestling Event to be held this summer at the Whitley County 4-H Fair.
The 4-H Vision is “a world in which youth and adults learn, grow and work together as catalysts for positive change.” The Pig Wrestling Event does not reflect positive change.
There is a ground swell of media attention decrying pig wrestling events around the country. Our Whitley County 4-H Fair can avoid being swept up in the media blitz and inevitable growing publicity which surrounds the welfare of all participants – be they two-footed or four-footed.
The comments which are being leveled at this event center around the thoughts that pig scrambles (wrestling) teach the wrong lessons. Pig Wrestling teaches our children that it is O.K. to manhandle animals (“Let’s go be mean to pigs!”), to chase them, to scare them, and to hurt them – and it is all in “good fun.” Any veterinarian will tell us that this event causes fear, stress, and undue pain to these docile creatures – and it is clearly abuse.
What alternative events could replace Pig Wrestling? Some suggestions are – human mud wrestling, mud football, bicycle races, art contests, paint ball tag, water gun tag, archery contests, cooking contests – all things that encourage using your talents … not violence.
Our community needs to discuss this topic and take a proactive stance leading the way to eliminate this event from the 2015 Whitley County 4-H Fair. This decision is an opportunity to set an example of compassion and will reflect positively on our Whitley County 4-H Fair.
We are the species with imagination, rationality and moral choice – and that is why we are under an obligation to recognize and respect all living creatures.

Don Sexton
Columbia City, IN

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