Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Celebrate Benjamin Harrison's Birthday

It's a former president's birthday party -- and everyone's invited.

The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site celebrates his 179th birthday 20 August, but the celebration's on the birthday eve -- specifically, a summertime concert featuring Alexandra and the Good Batch between 1:30 and 4 p.m. 19 August on the south lawn of the Harrison home, 1230 North Delaware Street, Indianapolis.

Alexandra -- Alexandra Geis -- is not only a singer-songwriter, she is a direct descendant of Benjamin Harrison. The concert will feature her children's music.

Prior to the free concert, there will be complimentary walk-through tours with Harrison family descendants and distribute a free "Good Batch" CD to every family (while supplies last).

Free birthday cake and ice cream for all guests, a craft for the kids, and a happy birthday song to satisfy all the worthy celebrations.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Ballard Staff Cashes In During Recession

Gary R. Welsh, "Despite a large budget deficit the City of Indianapolis is facing, Mayor Greg Ballard handed out pay raises as high as 31% for top members of his staff."

This Indianapolis Observer wonders just how hizzoner got away with that misuse of taxpayer money!

UPDATE (added 31 July):
"Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s staff received a collective 18-percent raise this spring following the hiring of a new deputy for education with an annual salary of $120,000."

Check out the details in this IBJ.com report: "Dems grumbling over big raises for Ballard's staff".

This Indianapolis Observer knows it's not "only the Dems" who are astonished at Ballard's giving his staff huge raises when simultaneously talking about huge public safety cuts!

UPDATE (added 1 August):
Here's the new normal. Gary R. Welsh writes about Ballard's boneheaded move on Monday. IBJ.com elaborates on the story on Tuesday. And, on Wednesday (today) The Indianapolis Star puts the three-day-old news on page one.

Friday, July 27, 2012

End of an Era for The Indianapolis Star

According to IBJ.com, The Indianapolis Star plans to sell its downtown headquarters building at 307 North Pennsylvania Street.

Now that they've fired most of their editorial staff, this Indianapolis Observer is guessing that they don't need all that space!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Indy Star to Build Paywall

According to the Indianapolis Business Journal, The Indianapolis Star intends to erect a paywall for its online site as early as August.

IBJ quotes Jim Hopkins (a former USA Today editor and reporter who writes a blog about Gannett) as questioning both the upcoming paywall and a expected subscription cost hike.

"Hopkins scoffs at the notion that content is king at Gannett, noting that layoffs at almost all its publications -- including the Star -- have resulted in less news coverage. 'Reducing the quality of content, then asking people to pay more for it seems like a strange way to do business,' he said."

Monday, July 16, 2012

The 17th annual Middle Eastern Festival takes place at St. George Orthodox Christian Church, 4020 North Sherman Drive, Indianapolis, this weekend.

Hours are 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday (20 and 21 July) and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday (22 July).

In addition to fabulous food plus music by David Al Hakim and his band, there'll be dancing, kids' games and a marketplace.

On the menu are lamb shanks, gyros, stuffed grape leaves, falafel, meat pies, spinach pies, hummus, and a wide array of pastries.

Admission at the door is $5, children under 12 free). For food, you purchase strips of $10 worth of "St. George bucks".

(Photo courtesy of St. George Orthodox Christian Church)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Drought in Indiana Brings Water Use Restrictions

Citizens Water has asked Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard to declare a Water Shortage Warning in Marion County in order to implement mandatory water use restrictions including a ban on lawn watering.

These restrictions, expected to be implemented tomorrow (13 July), under the Indianapolis Water Conservation Ordinance, apply to residents in all Marion County communities except Lawrence and Speedway, which operate their own water systems.

While the Indianapolis restrictions may not be enforceable in communities outside Marion County, Citizens is asking all of its customers to abide by the mandatory restrictions or other similar restrictions that may be implemented and enforceable in their own communities.

Mandatory water restrictions are now necessary to maintain proper water pressure to ensure public safety and adequate water supplies for all Central Indiana customers throughout the summer, the company says. Drought conditions and high water use are causing reservoir levels to fall quickly and are putting stress on the distribution system leading to costly main breaks.

Citizens realizes mandatory water use restrictions will create concern among some customers, but the following water use restrictions are absolutely necessary given the continued severe drought conditions.

Indianapolis Water Conservation Ordinance Restrictions:
Customers should be aware that under the water use restrictions during a water warning, the following actions are unlawful under the Marion County Water Conservation Ordinance (Chapter 706).
· Sprinkling, watering, or irrigating of grass;
· Washing cars, trucks, trailers, mobile homes, railroad cars or any other type of mobile equipment, except as required by applicable local, state, or federal law for health or safety reasons;
· Using water to clean sidewalks, driveways, paved areas, structures, buildings, or other outdoor surfaces;
· Filling empty swimming pools;
· Installing new landscaping or new lawn by using sod until return to normal conditions are declared by the mayor;
· Using hydrants except for fire suppression or as otherwise directed by Citizens Energy Group; and
· Operating water fountains that are non-recycling.

Exception: · Vegetable gardens and flowers may be watered every other day by container or hand-held hose equipped with a shutoff nozzle. It is also permissible to water trees once per week.

Exemptions: The following water users and water uses shall be exempt from the prohibitions noted above: · Nurseries -- Provided water use is limited to the amount essential to preserve inventories;
· Automatic commercial car washes -- Provided a majority of the water used is recycled;
· Manual commercial car washes -- Provided only a handheld hose equipped with a shutoff nozzle is utilized;
· Golf courses -- Provided tee boxes and greens are watered only on an every other day schedule that begins on Monday of each week and fairways are watered only once per week on Thursday; and
· Parks -- Any watering of property owned or controlled by the department of parks and recreation as directed by the mayor or mayor's designee where such watering is necessary or appropriate for asset preservation.

· Each customer shall be responsible for compliance with the ordinance with respect to the premises where the customer receives water service. If the identity of the water user cannot be ascertained, the customer with service at that address shall be liable for violations that occur on such premises.
· Water Conservation Penalties are as follows: · First violation in twelve-month period = $100
· Second violation in twelve-month period = $250
· Third violation in twelve-month period = not less than $500
· Fourth violation in twelve-month period = up to $2500 per day per violation Enforcement

The Water Conservation Ordinance shall be enforced by the Indianapolis Department of Code Enforcement. (G.O. 15, 2009, § 1; G.O. 36, 2011, § 24)

(Photo by Ivan Prole)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

"Hear, There and Once More"

"Hear, There and Once More" is the theme for a quilt exhibition by the Charm Club.

It continues in the Moore-Bruns Gallery and Ogborn Gallery of the Sullivan Munce Cultural Center, 205-225 West Hawthorne Street, Zionsville (map), through 8 September.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays; admission is free.

Members of the Charm Club in 2012 are Janet Brandt, Carol Elrod, Anita Hardwick, Betsy Harris, Eve Howes, Joyce Johnson, Jane Lee, Kate Lenkowsky, Mary S. Moore, Carolyn Queisser, Judy Pleiss, Judy Sweeney and Barbara Thompson.

(Image of "I've Had Enough of the Blues", an original quilt by Anita Hardwick which was inspired by the Tommy Castro song of the same name, courtesy of the Charm Club)

Friday, July 6, 2012

"Othello" in the Park for Free

One of Shakespeare's most iconic works, "Othello", will be presented by Heartland Actors' Shakespeare on the Canal at White River State Park in the Celebration Amphitheatre July 20, 21 and 22.

Performances are at 8 p.m. July 20 and 21, at at 2 p.m. July 22. NOTE: there is no admission charge -- yes, it's free.

The production features Lauren Briggeman, Diane Timmerman, Chris Hatch, Adam Crowe, Scot Greenwell, Brian Noffke, Sam Fain, Robert Neal, Michael Hosp, Jeff Keel, Tom Beeler and Bridgette Richards; it's directed by HART's artistic director Michael Shelton, with lighting by Laura Glover and costumes by Kathleen Egan.

If you're attending, consider arriving early with a picnic to enjoy preshow music and activities in White River State Park.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Super Derecho: "The Land Hurricane"

By Alex Sosnowski
Expert Senior Meteorologist

AccuWeather.com reports a "super derecho" of violent thunderstorms left a more than 700-mile trail of destruction across the Midwest and mid-Atlantic on Friday, cutting power to millions and killing thirteen people.

More than 600 damaging wind reports were received by NOAA's Storm Prediction Center as the derecho took roughly 12 hours to race from northern Indiana to the southern mid-Atlantic coast.

A derecho is defined as a widespread and long-lived wind storm that accompanies rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms. The most severe derechos are given the adjective "super."

Winds gusted to 91 mph (equal to that of a category 1 hurricane) at the Fort Wayne International Airport, Ind., Friday afternoon.

As the derecho maintained its violent nature, an 81 mph gust was then measured at Tuckerton, on the southern New Jersey coast, early Saturday morning.

Downed trees dominated the damaging wind reports and led to the deaths of 13 people, according to Fox News.

One of the multiple trees that crashed into homes in Springfield, Va., killed a 90-year-old woman as she was sleeping in her bed, according to the Associated Press.

A few hours earlier, a falling tree outside of North Middletown, Ky., (located east-northeast of Lexington) killed a man who was attempting to clear some tree limbs off a road.

Two boys died by a pine tree fell onto a tent at Parvin State Park, N.J.

Damage on Friday was not confined to downed trees. Power poles were also snapped, while some structures sustained damage. At least four semi-trucks were blown over by the winds on I-75 between Findlay and Bluffton, Ohio.

States of emergencies have been declared in Virginia, West Virginia and Ohio. With 2.5 million in the dark, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell stated that his state experienced its largest non-hurricane power outage in history.

Friday's super derecho was triggered by a ripple in the jet stream and fueled by the intense heat that caused Washington, D.C., to set a June record high and Columbia, S.C., to break its all-time record on Friday.

Derechos typically strike the lower Midwest states once every year, according to the SPC. The occurrence of derechos, however, are quite rare across the mid-Atlantic, south of Philadelphia. On average, this region endures a derecho once every four years.

One of the most recent significant derechos to slam the United States occurred on May 8, 2009. This weather phenomena traveled more than a thousand miles in 24 hours from southeastern Kansas to the southern spine of the Appalachian Mountains.

Destruction from the May 2009 derecho totaled millions of dollars with numerous injuries and several deaths reported.

One main difference between the May 2009 derecho and Friday's is the number of tornadoes spawned. Forty-five tornadoes were sighted in May 2009, while there was only one unconfirmed report of a tornado on the ground in Newcomerstown, Ohio, Friday afternoon.

Winds in the strongest derechos can top 100 mph. The derecho that tore through Wisconsin and Lower Michigan on May 31, 1998, produced a 128 mph wind gust in eastern Wisconsin.

Additional severe thunderstorms will threaten parts of the Midwest and mid-Atlantic later today, but a repeat of Friday's widespread destruction is not expected.