LETTER TO THE CCO EDITOR: OPEN LETTER TO NEW HARMONY-BRIDGE TO NO AVAIL!

first_imgBRIDGE TO NO AVAIL!written by Daniel Barton Publisher of The New Harmony GazetteDear Harmonist Brothers and Sisters, Friends:It was first reported in two of our local newspapers, The Posey County News and The Mt. Vernon Democrat, that things got pretty rowdy at the recent “Meet Your Representative” meeting or what was billed as the “Cracker Barrel Forum,” in Poseyville. Not that there’s anything wrong with some non-violent rowdiness in politics. The “people” still have a right to express their dissatisfaction with legislators as well as their satisfaction. However, we must all try to remember that everyone has a right to speak without being shouted down by other audience members. Mutual respect is the key! Here in New Harmony a rule that’s pretty much always followed by the audience in attendance.What came to my attention in the press reports about the meeting were comments made by County Commissioner Carl Schmitz regarding our Harmony Way Bridge.Commissioner Schmitz said that, “No one owns the bridge.” That statement is false! The fact is that the bridge is owned by the White County Bridge Commission. That is a long known fact. Commissioner Schmitz has no excuse for not knowing it. It’s very disappointing to hear that he made the remark.His second remark was a little more encouraging, “Illinois doesn’t want it.” Something for which we should all be thankful. Illinois has had hundreds of public officials convicted of criminal offenses in the past fifty years. It is among the leading States in political corruption. More than 500 convictions since 1997. Indiana can clearly handle the problem of one bridge rehabilitation without involving Illinois, if necessary. Included in Illinois history is five Governors who have gone to prison, with one still serving his sentence. Instead of looking at our bridge as a liability maybe Commissioner Schmitz should begin looking at it as an asset to Posey County with the ability to bring in nearly a million dollars a year.He followed that comment with a third facetious remark, “I wouldn’t drive over it on a four wheeler.” Back in July, I accompanied six other people on a stroll across our beautiful Harmony Way Bridge. Along for the walk was New Harmony Town Council President Alvin Blaylock, County Commissioner Jerry Walden, New Harmony Gazette writer, Ann Rains, New Harmony resident and Harmony Way Bridge activist and supporter, Lora Arneberg, U.S. Army Colonel Austin Elliott and Indiana Landmarks President, Marsh Davis. By the way, we all walked on the bridge at the same time. All the way across and back again, bouncing as we went. Not a ripple was felt by anyone on the trip. Maybe Commissioner Schmitz has underestimated the strength of this great structure or has never even been on it.New Harmony Road Maintenance Supervisor Bobby Grider rides his bicycle back and forth over the Harmony Way Bridge every day from Illinois, where he lives, to Indiana, where he works.No fear; huh Bobby?Finally, Commissioner Schmitz’ most controversial statement was his interpretation of what it will cost to repair, rehabilitate and reopen our bridge. He said, “The cost to update the bridge is Just prior to giving the green light to go to press, The New Harmony Gazette received three photos by email of purported rust damage causing holes in the Iron substructure of the Harmony Way Bridge, from State Representative Wendy McNamara. These photos have now been forwarded by us to several Bridge Experts and Bridge Engineers in Indiana for further evaluation. At this time we do no know from looking at the photos, how large the holes are, where they are located on the bridge structure, what engineer’s report they were taken from, when they were taken and whether or not they weren’t part of an earlier repair project done on the bridge and may now be repaired. We can’t even be sure if they were taken on the Harmony Way Bridge. When these questions are answered the answers will be passed on to you, the public. County Officials are aware that New Harmony has some excess capacity at their Sewage Treatment facility and they want to run all of the new sewers to that Plant. They don’t want to fix the bridge but they want to dump all of the millennial crap into New Harmony’s waste pool. And for what price? And what happens when that excess capacity is full to overflowing? What then? New waste pools for our Town? Who covers the sludge removal? Phosphorous treatment? How much capacity will they be allowed to take? How long is the lease contract? Ninety-nine years? Who paid the initial cost of the present facility? A lot of questions for Commissioner Schmitz! Certainly it will save the County and the Developers a lot of money. They will not have to build their own sewage plant.I fear that the people of New Harmony are not going to wake up to this until their knee deep in….Shinola!Indiana State Representative Wendy McNamara has also made similar claims about the imagined abject hopelessness of the Harmony Way Bridge; saying last September, that there were holes completely through the roadway and it was too costly to repair. In fact on Sept. 11, 2016 she said that she would send New Harmony Gazette writer Ann Rains photographs of the holes that she claims to have seen. So far no photographs have arrived. How about it Representative McNamara! Send those pictures to us!I have personally tried to contact Representative McNamara and have had no luck reaching her. Only her office assistant, “Andrew.” I have asked Andrew if she uses email to communicate with the public, to which he answered “YES”. She has not responded to any of my emails or texts. Recently I left another message with Andrew to let her know that she is very difficult to reach and asked him to arrange a personal meeting with me. No luck. State Representative McNamara appears to be indisposed when it comes to New Harmony and the Harmony Way Bridge.Heck! I only want copies of those photos showing holes in the roadway from underneath the bridge.V.S. Engineers are on the Harmony Way Bridge even as we speak and it shouldn’t be too long before we get an update on the bridge’s current condition and the real cost of repairing and reopening it.The New Harmony Gazette will keep you posted as this develops. There is no reason to think that what Commissioner Schmitz says that he heard or saw relating to the fifty million dollars in costs to reopen the bridge is caused by a lapse of correct recall. He likely heard what he says he heard. What is in question however is the source of his comment. Who was it that proposed these costs and where is the certified engineer’s report that validates this statement?None, not one, of the many engineering reports that I have reviewed concerning hands-on inspections of the Harmony Way Bridge, since it closed five years ago, even come close to Commissioner Schmitz’ figure of fifty million. That’s the reason I have asked him for the supporting documents. An engineer’s report will have a line by line cost estimate for each item of repair or replacement. We are not talking about razing and replacing the structure. Again, all of the reports I have personally reviewed say that the Harmony Way Bridge is repairable and can be salvaged for future use for far less than replacement of the bridge.Will Commissioner Schmitz come up with the engineers report to prove his claim or will we all be left with his word alone?As far as holes entirely through the roadbed; the stroll across the bridge in 2016 did not reveal any. Nor did any of the many photographs taken by bridge engineers over the last five years; that I have in my possession.Commissioner Schmitz is not the only elected official to quote these very high and unsubstantiated repair and rehabilitation costs, his fellow County Commissioner Jim Alsop also quoted the same amounts at a New Harmony Kiwanis meeting in January 2015.No doubt, there are many things that have to be taken care of by the County Commissioners, but what’s important here is the specific reason for Commissioner Schmitz voting “NO” for the County not taking title in 2015. Not the laundry list of items he mentions in his texts. They didn’t exist at that time. The specific reason, to which he admits to, was the $50 million dollars that he believed it would cost to restore or reopen the Harmony Way Bridge. Without the supporting engineers reports; that would be a highly inappropriate reason for a decision that adversely affected thousands of people in this part of Indiana and Illinois.As far as the three items he lists, they also generate questions. Hi-Speed or Broadband internet is much more expensive than fixing up the bridge. One community in Utah was left with a debt of $185 million dollars and was still unsuccessful in operating the Government Owned Network that they tried to install. This wish is connected with the other two on his list; such as housing to attract young people to live in Posey County. Presumably to work at SABIC or Midwest Fertilizer. How is the County involved in young peoples housing you might want to ask? Tax abatements? Cheap mortgages? Public low income housing? Commissioner Schmitz is not clear!And last but certainly not least, my community of New Harmony should be concerned about “sewage.” This topic has been brought to my attention several times since October 2016 by those in Posey County and Mt.Vernon, government. It seems that it’s connected with the “young peoples housing” and the “Hi-Speed Internet.” One big ball of wax. The catch is: $41 to 50 million dollars, and the County cannot afford that.” Now it may be that Commissioner Schmitz believes this piece of fiction has some truth, but most of us who have intently studied the engineering reports produced over the last five years find the comment laughable. Without documentary evidence of which engineering company developed the report that estimated these outrageous numbers that were quoted; they are just not believable. So I decided to follow up with Commissioner Schmitz. What follows is a transcription of our texting conversation on March 23 and 24th.Dan Barton: Good day Commissioner Schmitz. On March 11th at a public meeting in Poseyville you stated that it would cost upwards of fifty million to reopen the Harmony Way Bridge. This is contrary to every report that I have ever read. It’s more than double the figure put out by Indiana to completely remove and replace the entire structure. More than two hundred times higher than the lowest estimates to reopen. Please provide me with provable documentation on how you came to your conclusion of fifty million. Respectfully. Dan Barton.Commissioner Carl Schmitz: I have met with several State Officials and Il. (Illinois) Officials. In.(Indiana) says 20 plus million. Il.(Illinois) says that the cost will be over 45 million with costs over 50 million until it is completed. That is why they are not going to work on it for they will spend no money on S Il. (Southern Illinois) Take a boat ride to the Il.(Illinois) side and look at the last 1/3 of the bridge it was old and used when it was put up. It has holes in the floor and some of the steel is completely rusted out. I can not see shutting down our road department for 10 plus years to build one bridge. Look at the cost of the 3 bridges that we built recently have all cost over 1 million each are very small compared to this bridge.Dan Barton: Thank you Commissioner Schmitz for your response regarding your statement about the cost of reopening the Harmony Way Bridge. Was the 40 to 50 million dollar cost you have stated as prohibitive costs the reason that you consistently voted NO for Posey County not taking title to the Harmony Way Bridge.Commissioner Carl Schmitz: Yes, we cannot take on something that we can’t get usable or afford. We have many needs; hi speed internet, sewage, housing to get young people to come back and live in Posey County.Dan Barton: Thanks again, Commissioner Schmitz, for your responses to my questions about the Harmony Way Bridge.I have gotten responses from several New Harmony residents regarding your comments to me about the information that you received from Indiana and Illinois officials concerning their estimates to you about the cost of reopening the Harmony Way Bridge. In fact in my first text to you on this matter, I asked for something they are asking me about. Provable Documentation. Can you provide me with the engineers report that supports the 40 to 50 million dollars in costs to reopen the Harmony Way Bridge which you said State Officials claimed. I request a copy of that report from you to support the facts in the New Harmony Gazette story to follow. I would also like to have the names and contact information on the Indiana and Illinois Officials who gave this information on bridge reopening to you. Respectfully. Dan Barton. Publisher. The New Harmony Gazette.Commissioner Carl Schmitz: I was at a meeting with Officials from both States at the Southern In(Indiana) highway office. I have it in file in the barn but can not get to it due to the fact that I had surgery last week. So it will be a couple of weeks before I can. FOOTNOTES: The New Harmony Gazette is a monthly on-line and in print monthly publication reporting the happening of New Harmony proper.  Daniel Barton is the Publisher of this extremely informative monthly newspaper.City County Observer posted this article without bias, opinion or editing. FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img read more

Bob Weir Joins Lukas Nelson & Promise Of The Real For Three Songs In San Fran [Video]

first_imgLast night, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real got some help from Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir at the second night of their two-show stand at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall. The performance came as part of Promise of the Real’s stretch with singer-songwriter Tyler Childers on the ongoing “Stagecoach Spotlight Tour.”Following sets by Childers and tour supporting artist Lillie Mae, Nelson and Promise of the Real came out for their headlining performance with Weir in tow. The band opened with a rendition of the Dead’s “Althea” sung by Nelson, before Bobby took over on vocals for “West L.A. Fadeaway”. Finally, Bobby stayed at the mic for a rendition of Bob Dylan‘s “Maggie’s Farm”, a latter-day live Dead cover and a staple of various post-Jerry Garcia projects. While Weir battled sound issues with his instrument throughout the sit-in, his presence at the Bay Area performance was nevertheless appreciatively received.As JamBase notes, Weir and Nelson first performed together at a pair of recent tributes to Weir’s longtime friend and songwriting partner, John Perry Barlow, including Barlow’s free “Graduation From Meatspace” at The Fillmore and an additional event at Weir’s SweetWater Music Hall.You can watch full crowd-shot video of Weir’s sit-in below, via Facebook user Doug Clifton:Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real w/ Bob Weir – “Althea”, “West LA Fadeaway”, “Maggie’s Farm”Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real continue their leg of the Stagecoach Spotlight Tour tonight in San Luis Obispo, CA. From there, they head to the Big Easy, where they’ll play the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on Friday, April 27th, followed by a set a Stagecoach Festival in Indio, CA on Sunday, April 29th. For more information on Lukas Nelson & Promis of the Real’s upcoming tour dates, or to grab tickets to any of the shows, head to the band’s website.[H/T JamBase]last_img read more