Posts filed under 'Community'

Common Census Map Project

A “Voice of the People” letter in the South Bend Tribune recently contained a link to the Common Census Map Project. The site is an interactive cultural atlas that allows people to contribute information about the communities in which live.

It aims to:

…finally settle the question over exactly where cultural boundaries lie, contribute to the national debate over Congressional redistricting and gerrymandering, and educate people everywhere as to the true layout of the American people that they’ve never seen on any map before.

I found the Indiana map interesting in light of the ongoing debate over time zone boundaries:

common census

If you are so inclined, take a minute to contribute your information to the project.

Add comment January 10th, 2006

Olympic possibilities for South Bend?

olympicsChicago Mayor Richard Daley is dropping hints that the city of South Bend could be part of a Chicago bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics. While the talk is still speculative, it goes without saying that a successful bid including South Bend could have a tremendous economic impact on our community.

Local venues such as Notre Dame Stadium and the East Race Waterway are good examples of first-class athletic facilities that are already used for national and international sporting events.

However, Masson’s Blog points out the possible negative ramifications for South Bend being in a different time zone than Chicago, and Mayor Daley has stressed the need to improve transportation between Chicago and South Bend.

Add comment January 6th, 2006

Supercomputing grid comes to South Bend

gridThe Northwest Indiana Computational Grid is now scheduled to go online in January, thanks to $6.5 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Through a partnership with the University of Notre Dame, Argonne National Laboratory, and Purdue University, the grid will combine processing, storage, transmission, and visualization of complex data to be used in a wide variety of research applications.

In South Bend, Notre Dame will house a 21-foot long cluster of 580 computers downtown at Union Station by Coveleski Stadium. The cluster will be linked into the grid in cooperation with the St. Joseph Valley Metronet – the non-profit dark fiber network established in cooperation with the City of South Bend earlier this year.

The South Bend Tribune says the project, along with other recent local technology developments “represent(s) a continuing shift in the local economy away from traditional manufacturing toward a technology base.”

The Grid will be an incredible opportunity for our area, but I do not think it necessarily precludes manufacturing applications. Increased computing power and research capability will help serve to modernize our manufacturing base – not eliminate it.

Jeff Kantor, V.P for research and graduate studies at Notre Dame says the grid will dramatically increase the research infrastructure, but also cites some practical implications for the nuts-and-bolts engineering and manufacturing economy:

“The design of orthopedic devices, from an engineering perspective, is an example of where we can lead with simulation studies and computations work that will be supported through the collaboration of the grid.”

1 comment December 20th, 2005

Two great headines from today’s South Bend Tribune

It seems some South Bend Tribune editors had a good time coming up with headlines today. Here are two stories I got a kick out of:

Elusive bat wounds boy, flees scene
Boy saves bat from cat’s mouth, only to be bitten in return

“A bat in the mouth of a cat was saved by Jonathon Brandy. So the bat then bit the boy, who now must undergo rabies shots.”

Woman appears out of trunk of car

“A good Samaritan who stopped to help a motorist Saturday night… received more than he bargained for when a woman got out of the closed trunk of the car… police determined the woman had stashed herself inside the man’s 2001 Ford Escort without him knowing, just so she could be with him.”

Good stuff.

Add comment December 14th, 2005

Granger paths and regional greenways

pathThe Granger Paths project to develop a network of multi-use pedestrian/bike paths throughout the Granger area is gaining momentum. Yesterday I mailed a letter to the Indiana Department of Transportation TE program in support of Granger Paths’ application for a Transportation Enhancement grant to help fund the project.

If you live in the area and have not had a chance to view the project proposal that was developed in conjunction with Ball State University’s Landscape Architecture program, feel free to take a look at it online here (pdf).

The Granger project is just one of many multi-use path projects being developed in our community. The St. Joseph County Parks Department has been hosting a series of regional greenways charettes with local governmental and planning bodies in Indiana and Michigan. The long-term goal is to create a wide network of interconnected paths and trails that extend across the Michiana region.

A map of the potential greenways in St. Joseph county can be seen by clicking on the image below (pdf):

trails map

While a large network of greenways is still under development, there are already several existing trails in our area. Among them is the scenic East Bank Trail that runs from the East Race area in downtown South Bend up north along the St. Joseph River.

For more information on trails around the state, the Hoosier Rails to Trails Council maintains a good database of projects and routes across Indiana.

Add comment December 6th, 2005

Jewish Federation Legislative Forum

jfsjv attendeesI recently attended a legislative forum in South Bend hosted by the Jewish Federation of St. Joseph Valley. The discussion ranged from Daylight Saving Time to the impact of last year’s budget bill on property taxes.

While positions on political issues vary widely in the Jewish community, the St. Joseph Valley Federation teams up with the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council to advocate for issues that concern their community as a whole. Their 2005 legislative wrap-up can be found here.

I was glad to be joined by Senator John Broden (D – South Bend), Representative Jackie Walorski (R – Lakeville), Representative B. Patrick Bauer (D – South Bend), Senator Anita Bowser (D – Michigan City), and Representative Tim Neese (R – Elkhart).

jfsjv panel

If your community organization is thinking of hosting a legislative forum, feel free to let me know.

Add comment November 21st, 2005

E85 arrives in St. Joe County

brown countyAs reported by WNDU, St. Joseph County finally has a gas station selling E85 fuel. The Citgo at the corner of Bittersweet Rd. and McKinley Hwy. is selling the alternative fuel for (as of last night) $1.99 a gallon – almost 20 cents cheaper than gasoline.

E85 is actually 85% ethyl alcohol (ethanol), and only 15% gasoline. You can check here for a current list of E85 refueling locations in Indiana.

e85 nozzleAs my Ford Taurus is a “Flexible Fuel Vehicle” that can run on E85, I just had to give it a try. Filling up was just like using a regular pump, and the nozzle was clearly labeled to prevent people from accidentally fueling incompatible vehicles.

So far, everything is running smoothly. However, I did seem to notice a dip in fuel economy. A quick check with the Federal Fuel Economy Guide shows that ethanol actually has a slightly worse fuel economy than gasoline:

taurus stats

Just how economical that difference in fuel economy is will depend on the future of gas prices. However, if my car ran on E85 all year, it would end up emitting 2 tons less greenhouse gas than if it had burned gasoline.

For more information, feel free to consult the following resources:

Add comment November 11th, 2005

Visit to Swanson Highlands School

just a billEvery year, the National Conference of State Legislators sponsors the “America’s Legislators Back to School Program.” In an effort to help educate our students on civics and Indiana government, I participate in the program by visiting fourth-grade classrooms in my district. Indiana fourth-graders spend the year learning about Indiana history and government, so it is a good time to talk with them.

I recently visited Swanson Highlands Elementary School to talk with several classes about my job as a legislator, and how a bill becomes a law in Indiana.

swanson highlands

On this visit, I divided the group into a “House of Representatives” and a “Senate,” and let them pick a bill to move through the process. They decided on legislation requiring mandatory recess for all grade levels.

After several amendments in both chambers, and a divisive conference committee on whether recess should be mandatory for high school (or even college), the bill died in a close vote on the conference committee report in the Senate. There was a strong Senate faction that felt the whole issue was just “stupid.”

The State Legislature operates an active outreach program for students – offering tours for school groups, and an active page program. If you know of a school group that might be visiting the Capitol, or have a child who would like to serve as a page, please feel free to let me know.

Add comment November 9th, 2005

Visit to Healthwin

healthwinLast Monday I paid a visit to the Healthwin Specialized Care Facility in Clay Township.

Originally constructed as a tuberculosis hospital in the 1930’s, Healthwin is not only architecturally impressive; it is impressive in the quality of care it provides for its residents.

Residents and their family members were uniformly positive about the dedicated staff and administration at Healthwin. From physical therapy classes to a visiting dog program – it was clear Healthwin strives to improve the quality of life of its patients.

Two-thirds of Indiana nursing home patients are on Medicaid, and they must be approved by the state prior to admittance.

I spoke with Healthwin administrators, board members, and a representative from the Indiana Health Care Association about the financial and quality of care challenges they face.

healthwin inside

Nursing homes are part of a continuum of care ranging from outpatient therapy and home care to hospitalization. It is important that Indiana maintain a variety of health care options for our senior citizens and those with disabilities.

St. Joseph County can be proud of the healthcare asset it has in Healthwin.

43 comments October 25th, 2005

The New Logan Center

I attended the dedication ceremony for the new Logan Center facility in South Bend yesterday, and was very impressed with both the new buliding and the outpouring of community support.

Dan Harshman, CEO of Logan, has worked tirelessly for years to bring a better quality of life to people with disabilities, and his efforts - together with those of countless others - were on display yesterday.

If you haven’t had the chance, you might want to spend a day volunteering at Logan. I did my first stint there as a middle schooler through a program at St. Pius X Church, and it was a great experience.

Add comment October 24th, 2005

Ivy Tech, the IEDC, and growing small businesses

ivy tech lunchYesterday I attended the annual Ivy Tech Legislative Luncheon in South Bend along with fellow legislators Rep. Tom Kromkowski (D-South Bend), Rep. B. Patrick Bauer (D-South Bend), Sen. Marvin Riegsecker (R-Goshen), and Sen. John Broden (D-South Bend).

We heard updated information on Ivy Tech’s continually improving programs and increasing enrollment. Some of their new courses at the campuses in South Bend, Warsaw, and Elkhart include paramedic science, paralegal, biotechnology, and an AA degree for liberal arts students.

I had a good conversation with attendees about the changing role of the community college in Indiana. Ivy Tech administrators want to know if there are better ways they can increase opportunities for our underprivileged population (who might not otherwise attend a post-secondary school), while continuing to provide valuable vocational skills training.

I told some of them about the meeting I attended before the luncheon. That morning I had met with David Behr, a project manager at the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) North Central Region office in South Bend.

The main focus of my conversation with Mr. Behr was the problem of providing service to the smaller companies that need help, but don’t have the resources to find it. For example, a small machine shop with 30 employees may not have a human resources director who can apply for grants to pay for half of their training costs. An injection mold company may not even be aware of the people waiting to help them with export assistance, or the team that can help with modernization from the Purdue Technical Assistance Program.

The large companies with support staff know all about the many benefits that Indiana offers, but small businesses – the backbone of our economy – are hard to reach.

My suggestion to the IEDC and to the folks at Ivy Tech was to focus on serving these small business better. It may take more effort and energy to accomplish, but most new job growth in the state comes from existing small businesses. The drive to help our small businesses must be at least as strong as the effort to bring new companies to Indiana.

Some possible solutions may involve further streamlining paperwork requirements for grant applications, or even a more proactive outreach strategy from agencies like the IEDC. If you have any ideas that can help streamline assistance programs for small businesses, please feel free to let me know.

Add comment October 12th, 2005

IUSB Legislative Luncheon

iusbToday I joined legislators from across the region at Indiana University South Bend’s annual Legislative Luncheon. The meeting took place in a banquet facility in the school’s impressive new Student Activities Center.

Chancellor Reck focused on the university’s accomplishments in expanding programs and enrollment, while the legislators emphasized their commitment to improving and expanding IUSB for the future.

One of the priority projects for the near future is renovating the massive Associates Building for use as new instructional and program space.

Representatives and Senators attended from as far as 50 miles away. I was glad to see the support for IUSB, and I think that speaks to the school’s importance as a regional academic center and economic growth engine.

September 26th, 2005

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