LOCAL NEWS

Nation marks 100 years since U.S. enters ‘Great War’

There was a duty to help the people “over there” in Europe caught in the crossfire of a growing war, so Miss Ristine cracked opened her storybooks.

The children each paid a dime for reading hour at Wabash College, the money going to an orphan fund.

It was one of the ways Montgomery County banded together to support the war effort, rationing food, planting gardens and making bath robes for base hospitals.

But as the nation marks the 100th anniversary of entering World War I, historians say the home front was not ready for the fallout of relentless combat. The fighting would continue for nearly two years.

“They all thought they were going to go, turn around and come right back, which they didn’t do, of course,” said Dianne Combs, reference department assistant at Crawfordsville District Public Library.

In Montgomery County, many city and county men enlisted without waiting to be drafted, local historian Pat Cline wrote in “Crawfordsville: A Pictorial History. Eighty Wabash College students and as many city and county youth were serving before the draft was on the books.

The names of men who enlisted were carried in the local newspapers.

As President Woodrow Wilson declared war on Germany, Crawfordsville was bracing for a carpenters strike.

The local Elks lodge vowed loyalty and support to the president. In a front-page editorial, the Crawfordsville Review urged farmers to step it up in the fields and housewives to “eliminate wastefullness [sic] and extravagance.”

At Wabash, students voluntarily held military drills on campus, earning college credits.

Wallies were soon ready to play baseball again, calling on the administration to resume the athletic schedule. DePauw University was the only other campus in Indiana to call off sports when the U.S. joined the war.

Meanwhile, the Review offices began selling American flags, imploring readers to “put one in every window.” They ran out by the first of May.

A month after war was declared, at least 3,000 people gathered for a patriotic parade. The keynote speaker said it was the largest demonstration held in the state.

Not everyone answered the call to do their part.

Police arrested a Linden man for twice pulling an American flag from the telephone in front of his house. The second time, the Review reported, the avowed socialist tore the flag to bits.

The man said he did not believe in war. Federal agents were called to pick him up.

By war’s end, 42 soldiers with Montgomery County connections would lose their lives. Most died from the flu or pneumonia before they could be sent to the front lines, Combs said.

The county’s response to the war is showcased in an exhibit of artifacts, photos and letters on display on the second floor of CDPL. Combs read every issue of the Crawfordsville Daily Journal from April 1917 to December 1918, pulling out articles promoting clothing drives and knitting circles.

Over the years, families of local soldiers have donated boots, dog tags and flight helmets to the library, which pulled them from the archives for the display.

“We have someone’s daily record that he kept in his pocket,” Combs said.

The library accepts donations of authentic military artifacts for the collection.

Combs has personal ties to the time period. Her grandfather was one of 28,000 men on the Spruce Squadron who cut down trees in the Pacific Northwest for wood for the barracks. Her husband is a retired military officer and their son is currently deployed overseas.

Crash involving bus injures 1

A three-vehicle crash that included a school bus on the city’s west side Wednesday afternoon sent one man to the local hospital.

Indiana State Trooper Alaina Zloty said the crash was reported at approximately 2:45 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. 136 and C.R. 125W.

Zloty said a silver 2006 Ford Explorer driven by Leslie N. Oaks, 24, of Crawfordsville was southbound when she stopped at the intersection. She failed to yield to a 2013 F-150 pickup driven by Harold G. Stockdale Jr., 72, of Waynetown. After striking the pickup, it spun around striking the 2011 school bus owned by North Montgomery School Corp. and driven by Julie H. Steward, 46, of Crawfordsville.

None of the 14 students on the bus were injured. 

Oaks was not injured, but Stockdale complained of pain and was transported to Franciscan Health Crawfordsville.

All drivers were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.

Taking A Stance

When Elizabeth Justice once called her local representatives on Capitol Hill to sound off on health care, she ended up speaking her mind into a voice mail machine – and never heard back.

“So that’s why I’m interested in some form of communication with our elected representatives in Washington, as well as our elected representatives who serve in Indianapolis, that shows that they have received communications,” Justice said.

With hot-button issues jamming answering machines on both sides of the hill, mobile technology is helping make it easier for constituents’ voice mails to be heard.

A new, free app called Stance, available on Android and iOS, allows users to record a message for their local senator or representative, which is sent directly to the lawmaker’s machine.

The messages are sent at night when call volume is typically lower, bypassing all the busy tones and voice mail pick-ups. If the inbox is full, the app keeps trying every night until the recording goes through.

But callers may want to watch what they say. To nudge others to become politically active, each message is posted online at takeastance.us for the world to hear. 

Users can also tweet their recording to the lawmaker.

Following privacy concerns, the team is considering allowing users to opt out of their messages being posted online.

Stance is just the latest digital pipeline to Capitol Hill. Another app, 5 Calls, links users to five key representatives on a given issue and provides a script for delivering the message.

To political observers, the technology is a double-edged sword. While making it easier to reach out, the apps also feed in to “slacktivism” – failing to follow up a call or e-mail with more action.

“You sort of feel like you’ve done something but the question really is, have you done something,” said Andy Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Indiana University-Purdue

University Fort Wayne.

Nathaniel Teichman and a team at New York-based digital company Ense created Stance after seeing how difficult it was for activists to reach Congress during a political rally.

The U.S. Capitol’s creaky phone system left some waiting on hold for more than an hour. Others kept getting a busy signal.

“They felt a level of disenfranchisement that I think is natural,” Teichman said.

Using Stance for the first time, Justice wanted U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-Indiana) to know where she stood on health care.

She entered her address in the app and selected Young’s name from a menu of local representatives.

Holding down a record button, Justice stated her name and where she lives, and implored Young not to eliminate health care and insurance for low-income and middle class people. 

“I know about the devastating impact on many, many clients and friends when they have large medical bills that they are unable to pay,” she said.

Justice said she would wait and see whether Young called her back and how he would

respond before using the app again.

Her friend, Virginia Servies, prefers to e-mail her representatives, finding it easier to clearly express her thoughts.

Services uses an app called Countable to keep track of the issues. An editorial team summarizes major House and Senate bills and sends mobile alerts on how a particular lawmaker voted on a certain matter.

“I guess in my mind, I use Countable as a place to start and then I look for more detail,’ she said.

Back at Ense, Teichman’s team is looking beyond smartphones at ways to stay connected with Capitol Hill. Social media and cloud-based voice mails are being considered.

“It seems and feels antiquated that the only way you can get your voice to Congress is through a voice mail machine that quickly fills up,” he said.

Canoe race gets seed money

Canoe racing got a big assist at Tuesday’s Montgomery County Convention and Visitors Commission. The Friends of Sugar Creek Canoe Race received the financial backing of the commission that will go a long way in promoting the rebirth of the race.

Montgomery County Visitors Bureau Director Heather Shirk presented a grant application to the commission in the amount of $2,700 which was approved. The funds will go toward promoting and advertising the 15.3 mile race which is scheduled for May 20. Some of the items on the grant request, such as racing safety whistles to be provided to each racer, will be used for more than one year.

Shirk said promotion efforts will be mainly targeted to encourage local residents to participate in the race. She said in past years local manufacturers, schools and other groups would join in the race for a day of fun. She said organizers are wanting to see local participation by residents increase.

“We are working to build enthusiasm for the race,” Shirk said. “Sugar Creek is a hidden gem of the community and we feel the race is a good way to promote the beauty and use of the creek.”

The race, which at one time attracted as many as 400 racers but had seen numbers fall in recent years, was canceled last year. With the efforts of long-time county canoeist Bob Stwalley, the Friends of Sugar Creek decided to be one of the sponsoring organizations for the race along with the Visitors Bureau. 

Austin Brooks is a board member of the Friends of Sugar Creek. He said his organization, which promotes a healthy creek along with recreation on the creek, thought joining in the effort to resurrect the race was a good idea.

“The Friends of Sugar Creek are committed to seeing the race done professionally, efficiently with some pizazz,” Brooks said. “We believe if we do it right this year, the race will grow next year and hopefully keep growing.”

Race registrations are available at the Visitors Bureau located at 218 E. Pike Street. Registration forms will be made available soon on the bureau’s website at www.visitmoco.com . There are several canoe and kayak classifications for professional racers and amateurs.

Shirk said after last week’s announcement that the United States Canoe Association sanctioned race was returning, the local interest has been building. She reported there have been people coming by her office to pick up the registration forms to participate.

Shirk said besides the Friends of Sugar Creek, Montgomery County Emergency Management is helping to promote safety during the race. The local EMA is recruiting volunteers to help man check points along the race route which will begin at the Sugar Creek Campground and finish at Deers Mill Covered Bridge.

In other business the commission:

• Heard that there were no delinquent Innskeeper Tax payments from lodging facilities at this time.

• Received the quarterly Visitors Bureau report from Shirk.

• Received training from County Commissioner John Frey concerning the purpose of the commission.

Merger back on table at North Central Parke

A decision may come as soon as tonight to consolidate Turkey Run and Rockville high schools, a plan the school board rejected last year but administrators say is even more necessary in face of continued enrollment declines.

The North Central Parke Community School Corp. board will meet in a special session at 7:30 p.m. in Turkey Run’s ELC room.

Under the proposed plan, Turkey Run would merge in to Rockville’s building. Turkey Run’s building would be a middle school.

The district’s two elementary schools would remain separate.

It’s the same plan the board defeated last June, after nearly a year of public forums and executive sessions. Since then, staff members have spoken up in support of consolidation and the school district has shed more students.

Superintendent Dr. Tom Rohr said combining the schools is a step in the right direction.

“Back in June when they voted it just wasn’t the right time... but over the last several months, it just became more and more evident that consolidation was needed,” Rohr said.

District enrollment stood at 1,223 for the 2016-17 year, a loss of 18 students from last year.

Overall, the student headcount has dropped more than 6 percent since 2012.

Both high schools have lost students in the past five years, but declines have been felt most at Turkey Run. The Warriors are down 65 students over that period. This year’s enrollment is 222.

Rockville is down 17 students from 2012, with a current enrollment of 348.

Parke County lost about 100 residents from 2015 to 2016, according to Census data.

Declining county population was among the reasons cited for consolidation during last year’s discussions. Administrators said the plan would also save on extra-curricular and transportation costs, while giving students more course opportunities.

At last month’s school board meeting, staff members said merging the schools would better meet student needs and relieve prep time for teachers.

The board has two new members since June’s vote. Mike Neeley was recently appointed to replace Joe Steward, who resigned. Brandi Vandivier was elected last fall to replace Greg Harvey, who did not seek another term. 

During last year’s discussions, Vandivier — a Rockville graduate — said she favored consolidation to give students more opportunities.

Among the other board members, Greg Harvey, Jim Wrightsman and Scott Ramsay voted for consolidation last June.

Members Joe Seward, Gina Sunderman, Rusty Akers and Kim Cooper voted against.