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 Letters Published in February 6, 2008 Issue



 Feb. 6, 2008 - Letter submitted by Josh Davis, Ashley Watkins and the family of Braden Westmoreland

This has been a very difficult time in our lives, with the loss of Braden and our home and possessions. But one of the many blessings of living in Carthage and the surrounding communities is the people who provide the heart and soul that defines this area.

We have been overwhelmed by the amazing amount of support, love consideration and generosity shown by the people of Carthage, Knightstown, Rushville, Greenfield, New Castle and everywhere in between. All of the donations, fundraisers, showings of love, support and guidance have sincerely been unbelievable.

To all of you, we cannot express our gratitude at a high enough level. We would like to extend a special thanks to all of the fire departments, EMS, everyone at Rob Winters Accounting, Zipper's Bar and Grill in Knightstown, the Pit Stop in Carthage, the Carthage Elementary PTO, the Carthage Wesleyan Church, and all of the other churches that have assisted us in this difficult time in our lives. Thank you to all of our family, friends and everyone else who has opened their hearts to our family. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you all.

We love you all.



 Feb. 6, 2008 - Letter submitted by Rita McBride, Fortville

I have no desire to engage in an argument with Mr. Howard over his views on evolution; he's entitiled to believe whatever he wants, but I would like to state a few facts for the benefit of anyone who might have been confused by his letter.

I'm not sure which PBS program he saw, but I watched one a few months ago that covered the trial in 2005 that resulted from the Dover, Penn., school board's attempt to order the teaching of Intelligent Design in science class. Some parents objected and the case went to court. The verdict was that Intelligent Design is simply creationism by a different name and it is a violation of the separation of church and state to teach it in the classroom. Perhaps Mr. Howard saw a different program; surely he wouldn't have omitted such an important fact, even if he disagreed with the verdict.

Of course a mouse trap is not a tie clip, but it can be used for the same purpose. The scientist on the program that I saw used that example as part of his argument against the irreducible complexity hypothesis.

While I'm no scientist, I'm aware that the scientific definitions of law and theory are precise and are different from those in common usage. A scientific law refers to a single phenomenon, for example the law of gravity. A theory is more complex and, unlike a law, can be modified as new evidence is discovered. Both laws and theories are accepted as fact by the scientific community.

Science is what we know; religion is what we believe.



 Feb. 6, 2008 - Letter submitted by Jeff Ray, Friends of the Big Blue River

The Friends of the Big Blue River have continued our efforts to improve the health and beauty of the Big Blue River. In 2007, we had five river cleanups, performed water monitoring tests, helped with the Henry County SWCD 319 grant application, attended water quality meetings, planted 300 trees, and kayaked and enjoyed the river. We continue to be concerned with the levels of E. coli from the CSO overflow discharge of raw sewage, failed and/or inadequate septic systems and animal waste runoff in the Big Blue River Watershed.

We want to thank our supporters: Big Blue River Conservancy; Henry County Commissioners; Hayes Landfill; volunteers; New Castle-Henry County Public Library; The Banner; landowners along the river; city of New Castle; and Henry County United Fund Day of Caring.

In 2007, we cleaned nine miles of the Big Blue River: Train Trestle to County Road 100-South; and County Road 400- South to State Road 140. We have seen a big reduction in the dumping of tires, but it is still a problem. With the high water in spring 2007, we continued to find new materials that had been buried for years. We still collect a lot of plastic bottles and cans.

Below is a partial list of what we dug, pulled and carried out of the Big Blue: 40 tires; six drums; 44 bags of trash; 40 feet of lawn edging; one snow disk; one motorcycle; one bike; 14 buckets; seven pieces of plastic field tile; one vacuum cleaner; one table umbrella; 10 car parts; half of a plow; four pieces of plastic roofing; one riding mower seat; one beer keg; one shelf unit; 13 pieces of metal; 100 feet of chain link fence; and one circular saw.

For the last six years of cleanups, we have carried out this partial list: 706 tires;199 bags of trash; 52 shopping carts; 50 steel posts; 63 buckets; 56 drums; 41 appliances; 18 pieces of fence; 35 pieces of metal; 10 gas tanks; 11 car seats; 17 road signs; seven paper boxes; 20 chairs; 56 car parts; six wading pools; eight box springs; and 11 bikes.

As we look to 2008, our goals for the Big Blue River are: five miles of river cleanup; water monitoring and analysis at two locations; helping with the 319 watershed planning grant; work on wildlife habitat protection and restoration by planting native grasses, trees and shrubs, and hanging bird boxes; increased recreational use by establishing access points; reduction in E. coli bacteria levels and non source point pollutants; and to enjoy the beauty of Big Blue.

We hope by our work, areas along Big Blue will be better managed for water quality and wildlife. We are still seeing the Big Blue turn brown when it rains. This is the result of soil erosion of Big Blue's banks, side streams, fields and drains. Experience has show that using conservation tillage practices, planting buffers with trees and/or native grasses, or restoring wetlands are practices that decrease the silt in Big Blue. With erosion, the landowner ends up with less topsoil to use, less crop yields and the wildlife end up with less habitat. If you are a landowner along the Big Blue River (or any stream) and are interested in conservation programs available through federal and state programs, please contact the Henry County SWCD at (765) 529-2303 ext. 3.

Our mission statement is: "Dedicated to improving the health and beauty of the Big Blue River." To inquire about a group presentation, call Lee Ann Wallen at (765) 521-0265. To appreciate our Big Blue, paddle a canoe or slow down at one of the bridges in the southern part of the county and take a look, or drive our scenic Big Blue River valley from Luray to Knightstown - you will be surprised at what you see. Better yet, join us for a cleanup on June 7 as we celebrate the annual National River Cleanup Week.



 Feb. 6, 2008 - Letter submitted by Rex Bell, a Wayne County Libertarian, Hagerstown

There weren't a lot of extracurricular activities when I attended Millville Grade School. Occasionally we would load onto Howard Tucker's bus and ride over to Ashland or Dalton for a softball game. Once in a while we would head over to Memorial Park for a picnic, and to gather specimens for our leaf collections. I suppose students are still allowed to have picnics, but I imagine by now that collecting leaves in the park without a permit of some sort would lead to a violation of some law or statute. /p>

Our picnics consisted of bag lunches that we brought from home, mostly sandwiches and potato chips. This was back before peanut butter cost $8 a jar, when jelly was homemade, and before we knew how to spell baloney or what it was made from. It was a pretty safe bet what your bag was going to contain when it was time to eat.

But my old pal, Stinky Wilmont, drew a great deal of pleasure from convincing other students to swap lunches with him. He always found someone willing to make a trade, but I never saw the attraction. Regardless of what Stinky and the others were hoping for, they were still going to end up with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or a bologna sandwich. And no matter how many times you made the switch, the outcome was always the same.

Gov. Daniels and our state legislators are involved in the same sort of swap-fest over in Indianapolis right now. After a great amount of public outcry and voter unrest over the property tax debacle, our lawmakers have decided to make some changes. They have decided to collect a little less property tax and a little more sales tax. Most likely they are going to swap some elected officials for some appointed officials, and some elected assessors for some hired assessors. Some of them want to trade small government schools for large government schools.

Maybe their original plan might have been to make the unfair property tax a little less unfair, and to make the arbitrary assessment system a little less arbitrary, but their new plan still allows people living in identical homes and with identical incomes to pay different amounts of property taxes based on a person's age. And it allows identical homes in the same neighborhood to be taxed at different rates depending on who lives in the home.

The governor and our legislators want us to believe that they can reduce our total tax bill without reducing their spending - that somehow a temporary decrease in property taxes coupled with a permanent increase in sales taxes, or the replacement of elected bureaucrats with appointed bureaucrats, can somehow make the bottom line that citizens pay to the government more affordable.

Sorry, Mitch, but like I used to tell Stinky, that's a bunch of baloney.



 Feb. 6, 2008 - Letter submitted by John Leisure, Knightstown

In a recent letter to the editor (from Michael Howard in the Jan. 30 Banner -Ed.) I was accused of openly ridiculing "Intelligent Design" (ID). Let me assure all who read this paper that my intent was, rather, to ridicule the actions of the Charles A. Beard Memorial School Corporation administration. Their actions, in my opinion, are indefensible at best. Propriety prevents me from expressing my opinion as to what these actions represent at worst.) I merely sought to use the (Dover, Pa.) ID case to illustrate what can happen when public servants feel unaccountable to the public they, in theory, serve.

That said, I'd like to address Mr. Howard's complaint. The program he referenced, "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial, first aired on the PBS program Nova on Nov. 7, 2007. The program video and transcripts are available at

It is my belief that disagreeing with someone doesn't automatically make them a "liar," nor does it make them "intentionally ignorant," and certainly not "evil." It is my opinion that those who disagree with me are simply wrong, or not yet fully informed.

In debate, one presents evidence to support a point of view, rather than simply seeking to dismiss your opponent by insulting them. A successful debater knows his opponent's point of view as well as he knows his own.

There were some who it could be shown were lying during the Dover, Penn., case. Former Dover school board members William Buckingham and Alan Bonsall lied in sworn deposition as to the source of 60 copies of the book Of Pandas and People, a pro-ID book. Buckingham, Bonsall, and Mr. Bonsall's father were responsible for the "anonymous donation" of these books to the Dover County School System. I assume that Messrs. Buckingham and Bonsall took their oaths to tell the truth in the sworn depositions with their hands on the Bible. … Hmmm.

As I read Mr. Howard's letter, I wondered how he and I could have drawn such different conclusions from watching the same program. His point about "the irreducible complexity" of a bacterial rotary flagellum is refuted in Chapter 8 of this program. Evidence was presented in court showing that ID is simply Creationism repackaged, with much of this evidence coming from the writings of those persons most involved in the drive to introduce it into science curricula (see Chapter 11). Mr. Howard's statement about fully-formed abrupt appearance of species in the fossil record is addressed in Chapter 5.

This is not to say that Mr. Howard is totally wrong. Evolution is not the same as natural selection. The latter is a process; evolution is the result of that process. Evolution is, indeed, a theory, but it is a scientific theory - the preponderance of evidence for over 150 years supports it. For a theory to qualify as scientific, it must stand up to the scientific method of testing and experimentation.

I am left wondering, did Mr. Howard and I, indeed, watch the same program? Did he simply not absorb the information presented? Or is it possible that his understanding comes secondhand from some pro-ID website or newsletter?

In the end, each of us must decide what we choose to believe. The result of this case, for those who don't want to wait to find out, was that Judge John E. Jones III of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania (a 2002 appointee of President George Walker Bush, a man not known for his liberal leanings) ruled that Intelligent Design does not qualify as science and does not belong in the science curriculum. And Michael Behe, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and a leading proponent of ID who testified in the case, had to concede that under his definition of "scientific theory," astrology qualified as well as ID. All of the Dover school board members who supported adding ID to the science curriculum were defeated in the next election, and the local taxpayers were left with a bill of over $1 million to pay.

I don't believe that religion belongs in science class anymore than I believe evolution belongs in Sunday school. And while I somehow doubt that he would that Mr. Howard would extend me the same courtesy were our situations reversed, on the day that government tries to force science into the church, I will stand should-to-shoulder with him on the picket lines to protest this intrusion into his freedoms.


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