When tragedy strikes, emergency responders spring into action.
Nowhere was that proven truer than last week with the massive pileup on Interstate 94.
Fire and emergency medical responders came from near and far to help.
This type of response is what makes us feel safer — aware there are those who know what to do in a time of crisis.
Well, by a far smaller scale I, too, found out last week what a relief it is to have emergency responders come to your aid.
I needed to travel from our Munster office to Merrillville. I was told the Borman was a mess and U.S. 30 was like a parking lot.
So, with a clear sky overhead in Munster, I decided to take to the back roads — probably safer. I was wrong.
I soon found myself in a whiteout on Broad Street south of Griffith. Nothing to do but travel slowly and carefully.
What happened next I can hardly recall. It happened so quickly.
My SUV, apparently hitting a bit of piled snow, slid across the icy road and into a deep drainage ditch.
Luckily, I had my seat belt on as the SUV rolled onto its side, coming to rest in water at the bottom of the ditch.
As I sat there, it struck me how quiet it was, but that spell was broken as a passing motorist scaled the ditch to ask if I was injured. I wasn’t.
In what seemed like only a few minutes, the police, firefighters and EMT responders were on the scene.
In a calm, experienced manner they determined the way out for me was through the windshield. And so, lying on a board, my rescuers lifted me over the steering wheel and through the opening that had held the windshield.
As they carried me to the top of the ditch, I couldn't help but think how well the rescuers had accomplished my extrication. It was obvious they were trained and acting from experience.
I am thankful for their help. I, too, now know what it is like to be rescued.
I didn't get their full names, but Steve and Mike and others from the Schererville Fire Department earned my gold seal of approval that day.
They certainly proved when tragedy — big or small — strikes, emergency responders can be counted on to save the day.
To those who came to my rescue, I offer a sincere thank you.
Well, shut my mouth.
Maybe that’s the advice to be given to Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. He has been spouting loud and long in opposition to the regional air show moving from Gary to the Fair Oaks Farm south in Newton County.
His argument is that locally collected tax money should be spent only in Lake County.
So much for his vision for Northwest Indiana. Like some in neighboring Porter County, he has tunnel vision, and it ends at the county line.
Some facts are necessary. The air show was not held in 2012.
Gary, already struggling to meet its financial needs, wisely decided it could no longer afford extra pay for police and emergency services necessary at the show.
Midway Airport’s protective zone precludes the air show from being staged along the lakeshore in Hammond and Whiting.
And it’s not property taxes paid by local residents at issue. The tax is on those who visit here, using hotels and motels.
In spite of all this, McDermott is shooting from the lip and attacking the decision to move the show to Newton County. He argues the local economy will suffer.
His aim is the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, sponsor of the air show.
The fact is that no contract has been signed with Fair Oaks to host the show. But it should be.
Fair Oaks, perhaps the nation’s premier agritourism destination, draws somewhere around half a million visitors each year. They spend millions on gas, lodging and food as they visit the region. A good part of that is in Lake County.
It’s also true that Fair Oaks has sufficient land to host the show. It has the largest single patch of land east of the Mississippi River, some 30,000 plus acres.
It milks more than 30,000 cows per day, sending thousands of gallons of milk on its way to Midwest processors. Its future plans include building a hotel. It recently added pigs as a part of its exhibit
In other words, it hosts visitors to see agribusiness up close. It is especially a good experience for the young.
With the centralized location – not like the Gary show with limited and disjointed access – the show can be more. For instance, a midway with vendors and perhaps rides is likely to be offered.
The possibilities are great. So it is a time to think big, to think regional and stop the noise of unfounded opposition.
Finally, let me say McDermott is a top-notch mayor. He has done much for his city. That is a fact. But he is off base with his criticism of moving the air show.
He likely will charge me and The Times with being biased against him, something he has also proclaimed loudly of late.
Well, shut my mouth. I won’t respond to such a ridiculous charge.
No matter whether it’s the mayor or someone else, we will continue to support this as one region, not a home to isolated counties and municipalities.
Let the air show begin over the wide open spaces in Newton County.
The public comment period for the proposed Illiana Expressway has ended.
The NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard) have had their say. The traffic experts have spoken.
The fate of the project rests with the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission. To qualify for federal funding, the project must be part of NIRPC’s long-range plan.
And that means there must be a plurality of votes favoring the Illiana among the 53 members of the commission. That vote comes Dec. 12.
It’s those 53 members who are now being targeted. Can they be persuaded for or against?
Those living in or near the path of the expressway argue it isn't needed. Proposed reduction to traffic on northern routes won’t justify building a new road, they argue.
Some north Lake County officials worry it will adversely impact business at truck stops along the Borman Expressway.
But transportation planners argue that traffic, particularly on the Borman and U.S. 30, will be reduced. And the new expressway, they advocate, will bring opportunities for development benefiting the region’s economy.
What to me is missing from this argument is the most compelling reason to build the expressway – safety.
Take a drive on the Borman. Have just one of the thousands of 18-wheelers daily on the Borman follow you within inches. It’s a scary and dangerous experience.
The Illiana will allow a portion of those trucks to bypass the Borman. That will make the Borman a less cluttered and safer route.
That is the argument persuading me to support the Illiana.
Those worried about business at truck stops need to look at the real issues. After all, thousands of “through” semis will still use the Borman as an east-west route. They will still need the truck stops for fueling and feeding.
Safety is the paramount reason to build a new expressway. But it will also allow easier access to Chicago and its western and northwest suburbs for those living in southern parts of the region.
For my money, the time has come and gone for the debate.
The focus should be on the worthiness of a project that will benefit the region for generations.
I assume that like the debate over constructing the Borman in the 1950s and ’60s, time will prove the Illiana’s naysayers wrong.
When is enough, enough?
When silliness prevails and logic takes a back seat.
That best describes the move to a central 911 service in Lake County.
The Indiana General Assembly mandated consolidation of 911 service in each of the state’s 92 counties. It set a December 2014 deadline.
Guess which Indiana county is lagging ?
It’s the same county that for years was a holdout to the option income tax.
Lake County’s response to the 911 mandate is proving the county’s reputation downstate as the wild child of government. Again, it is internal strife that prevents a mandated consolidation from taking place here.
Some argue Lake County is unique and that two 911 call centers are needed.
Well, that is pure imagination. Look to Marion (Indianapolis) or Allen (Fort Wayne) counties where they operate 911 service from a single call center.
The move to have suburban and urban call centers in Lake County is just added proof of the unproductive north-south split in the county.
It is wrong. It smacks of elitism and racism.
And if I read the law correctly, setting up two call centers would be contrary to the legislature’s intent.
What makes St. John, Schererville and Lowell so different than urban communities? Is it they think they are special and should be treated differently than the rest of Lake County?
Again, this is an elitist and selfish position.
What is needed now is for the Lake County commissioners to kick this project into high gear. That means soundly rejecting the two call center proposal. It means adopting the state-vetted vendor for equipment. It means settling on a site for the single call center and getting it ready for use.
The time for debate is over. It is time everyone — even those communities still raising a fuss — complied with the state law and got a call center up and running.
No more excuses. No more arguing. Just get the job done.
It was like multiple ingredients blending in a mixing bowl.
I sat between Purdue University Calumet Chancellor Tom Keon and Porter County Sheriff Dave Lain.
You can imagine how we three represent varied views of what’s best for Northwest Indiana.
Well, on Oct. 3 about 100 community leaders from Porter, Lake and LaPorte counties met in Chesterton to shape an issues agenda for the region.
Led by Calumet College President Dan Lowery, the group spent a day listing the many issues of concern and opportunity facing us.
Mayors, legislators, hospital CEOs, environmentalists, social activists and many others took an active part.
Their passion came through as they advocated for the issue they believe most important.
Preschool education, preventive health care, lakeshore development, added commuter rail lines, Gary airport expansion and on and on. It was a long, long list.
But Lowery, an experienced hand at helping shape consensus, slowly but masterfully led the group to a conclusion of the top 10 issues for Northwest Indiana.
Making use of keypad polling provided a quick tally of votes and shaping of an agenda.
While I am sure not everyone left the session in agreement, those I have spoken with since believe it was among the best consensus-building exercises in recent years.
What came from the mixing bowl was an understanding we must all pull together in a unified manner to address issues we face. And arriving at a consensus of which issues are a priority allows us to more effectively address the issues or seize the opportunities.
In today’s Forum section, Marc Chase outlines the results of the One Region exercise. Take a look. Do you agree? Do you believe something is missing or not ranked properly?
Share your views with me, and I will pass along some of them in a future column.
What is important to me is everyone interested having an opportunity to add their ingredient to the mixing bowl.
Follow The Times
Replace your old furnace or A/C - We give Free Estimates! Air Tech Comfort Systems, Inc. - 219-663-9778
When your system is so old it doesn't make economic sense to r…
Start off on the right foot to having the best lawn on the block. Call Lawn Doctor of West Lake County to schedule your Lawn Treatment Program 219-364-6300
Call 219-364-6300 to schedule your FREE On-Site evaluation today.
Lease a new 2013 Civic LX for $99.00 per month for 24 months, …
We are not quite ready to announce ALL of our new products and…
Submit a Letter to Editor
We welcome letters from readers on any issue of public interest, and make every effort to publish as many as we can and in a timely manner. The Times will publish only one letter a month from a writer, and be sure to include your name, address and a telephone number for verification. Letters should be 150 words or less. They will be edited.Letters may be submitted:
- Via our submission form.
- Via e-mail.
- Via fax: (219) 933-3249 or (219) 465-7298
- Via mail or by hand to our offices:
- 601 45th Ave., Munster, IN 46321
- 2080 N. Main St., Crown Point, IN 46307
- 1111 Glendale Blvd., Valparaiso, IN 46383
- 3410 Delta Dr., Portage, IN 46368
- Please mark envelopes with "Attn: Letters"
Email Editorial Page Editor Doug Ross or call (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357
Should Porter County Auditor Bob Wichlinski adjust wages to reflect cross-training in his streamlined office?