Early voting sets records

Montgomery County voters seem to like voting early this election cycle. 

The number of early voters in the county has surpassed numbers from four years ago, and there are four more early voting days still available.


“As of Wednesday morning, we have had 1,720 voters take advantage of early voting,” Voter Registrar Karyn Douglas said. “In 2012, the total number of early voters totaled 926.”

The most recent total includes 174 voters who either cast their ballots at the courthouse or Rock Point Church on Tuesday.

Last Saturday was the first time satellite voting was offered in two of the county’s smaller towns. Ladoga had 88 voters cast ballots, while Waveland garnered 99 early voters.

The large number of early voters pleases the Voter Registration staff since this is the first year the county is utilizing vote centers instead of traditional polling places, and is expanding early voting opportunities.

“We are excited,” Douglas said. “We did find we needed to take more machines to the satellite sites so we will this Saturday at Darlington and Waynetown.”

Douglas said five of the new touchscreen voting machines were used in Ladoga and Waveland. She said this Saturday there will be 10 voting machines available in Darlington and Waynetown.

“We were happy that people were lined up at both small towns before we opened the doors,” Douglas said. “We got through the voters with no problems and there were no lines when the polls closed.”

The large number of early voters represents 6.5 percent of the county’s registered voters. In the 2012 Presidential primary election, county voter turnout was 34.1 percent. Douglas said with this year’s high-profile Presidential primary and a contested local Republican primary, voter turnout should exceed previous totals.

Douglas said the turnout also can be attributed to the new vote center process.

“I think people are appreciating the fact they can vote at different locations and times rather than one specific place on one specific date,” Douglas said.

Four years ago there was a popular movement to stop Hillary Clinton from winning Indiana delegates which led to a shortage of Republican ballots at county precincts. Republicans were asking for Democrat primary ballots since Indiana is an open primary. This year the opposite holds true. With the Democrat presidential selection nearly locked up by Clinton, there is speculation that several county Democrats will be asking to vote Republican in order to have a say in county politics. With the new voting machines, there is no fear of running out of paper ballots since they are no longer used.

“With the new machines there is no guesswork about how many paper ballots we will need,” Douglas said. “We believe that is a good thing about this primary election.”

Early voting continues this week. The last day to cast an early vote will be from 8 a.m. to noon Monday at the courthouse.

Local man receives global award

There are more than 1.2 million members belonging to Rotary International throughout the world. Only one member was chosen for a prestigious award — Crawfordsville’s own Claude Johnson.

Johnson was recently presented the Richard Kendall Award for Service to Humanity at a state district conference in Indianapolis. Crawfordsville Rotarians honored him as well for his efforts to help the poor in Mexico during their weekly meeting Wednesday at the Crawfordsville District Public Library.

Crawfordsville Rotary President Gary Isenberg acknowledged Johnson and his recent accomplishment.

“One out of 1.2 million Rotarians in the world received this award this year,” Isenberg said. “That one person is our very own Claude Johnson.”

Johnson was the award recipient because of his work providing emergency vehicles and emergency gear to undeveloped areas in Mexico for the past 10 years. A total of 19 firetrucks and two ambulances have been transported to Mexico by Johnson and his army of volunteers. He also has overseen a lot of emergency equipment being shipped across the border to Mexico.

Johnson was humbled by the recognition and said he was not the only one responsible for the success.

“There have been an awful lot people who have helped with this project,” Johnson said. “This award is for everyone who has helped.”

Johnson also thanked the district Rotary Clubs who have provided funds to transport the vehicles and equipment. He also had kind words for emergency departments for providing the equipment.

“I went around the district and asked for money to help us transport the emergency equipment and they have jumped on board with their support,” Johnson said. “I also need to thank all of the fire departments and ambulance services that have handed trucks and vehicles over to us. Deb Cedars needs to be thanked for allowing us to store trucks at his warehouse until we can ship everything to Mexico.”

Johnson’s work is not done. He currently has four trucks and two ambulances and emergency equipment to disburse.

Johnson and volunteers from the Crawfordsville Fire Department recently returned from Canali, Mexico, where they delivered a fire truck.

Isenberg announced the district will provide matching grant funds to help with shipping. Each truck cost $1,000 to ship across the border.

A Strip of Happiness

The cast of Southmont High School’s musical are really enjoying finding their inner kid. One of them pulls pranks on the others, one sucks his thumb and holds a blanket, one bangs out Beethoven on a piano and another sits on a bench with a plastic bag over his head. And those are just some of the ways the cast is bringing to life the Peanuts characters in their production of “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

“It’s so much fun because if we make mistakes it looks more like we’re getting into character,” laughed Nathan Greene, who plays Pig-Pen.

And most of the cast agreed that getting to act like little kids has been one of their favorite parts of the show.

“I love it,” said Jalyn Norton, who plays Lucy. “My voice can crack. I can be flat. And it’s fine because she’s 9!”

Even though there’s a bit of a difference between the age of the characters and the students themselves, some of the cast members are pretty similar to the roles they play.

“I’m a lot like Snoopy because I take things to comedy whenever I get awkward,” Kayleigh Ray said. “I’m always trying to be funny.”

“I’m kind of mean,” Norton said, as some of her fellow cast members agreed. “But I can be nice!”

However, Jakob Phillips, who plays Linus, doesn’t walk around the halls of Southmont with a blanket. And even though Aaron Gardner, who plays Charlie Brown, enjoys playing the beloved yet awkward boy, he doesn’t have much in common with the character.

“Oh no, I’d say we’re polar opposites,” Gardner said. “Charlie is kind of insecure about himself, and I would describe myself as a confident Alpha male. But for me, it’s easier to do a character that’s unlike me than a character that’s similar. It’s easier to get into character when they’re not like you.”

Some might think it would be difficult for the cast of “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” to portray such well-known characters, but they say that’s more fun than anything. The difficult part has been getting the fast-paced style of the show’s music down because many of the characters have overlapping parts throughout the songs. But they are excited to bring the Peanuts characters out of the comic strip and onto the Southmont stage.

“It’s fun for everybody,” Norton said. “Little kids will enjoy it because it’s silly. I call (Linus) a blockhead; they’re going to laugh at that. But the adults will appreciate the characters themselves because they grew up with them.”

Anyone who comes to see the show should be prepared to be taken on a journey. Because these students aren’t just putting on a show. The characters are figuring out childhood.

“Throughout the entire show,” Gardner said, “there’s a lot of focus on the insecurities and shortcomings of every character: Charlie and his awkwardness, Pig-Pen because he smells weird, Lucy because she’s mean and Sally because she can’t jump rope. But it all ties together at the end that your shortcomings don’t make you who you are. You can still find happiness regardless of all the things you’re not good at.”

“You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” opens 7 p.m. Friday in the Southmont High School auditorium with a second show on Saturday. Tickets are $5 for students and $8 for adults. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.

Make a scene with jeans

As the old saying goes, clothes don’t make the man.

On Wednesday, the community is encouraged to wear jeans for Denim Day, as a reminder that clothes also don’t make the victim.

“Denim Day is a campaign to prevent sexual violence through education and public awareness,” the campaign states. “April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and Denim Day is a call to action for all people to come together by wearing denim as a visible sign of protest against sexual violence . . . and misconceptions that surround sexual assault.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 59 men in the United States have been raped at some time in their lives. During their college career, between 20-25 percent of women are victims of attempted or completed rape.

And rape is only one form of sexual violence. It also includes unwanted sexual contact, sexual harassment, threats and peeping.

“Every two minutes, someone is sexually assaulted in the United States,” said Anita Byers, director of the Family Crisis Shelter in Crawfordsville. “We must join together to increase awareness, to educate our communities and to help the victims.”

Because when this community rallies around victims of sexual assault, they are rallying around their own.

“It happens in every community, including ours,” Byers said. “Indiana is second in the nation for sexual assaults of high school students! It is so important that we as a community support awareness of sexual assault. It is often not reported, but the damage to the victim is long-standing and devastating.”

The Denim Day campaign began in 1999, when a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction because the justices felt that, since the victim was wearing tight jeans, she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent.

The victim was an 18-year-old women who accused her 45-year-old driving instructor of taking her to isolated area during her driving lesson, forcing her to get out and raping her.

The New York Times reported that the Italian court stated, “jeans cannot be removed easily, and certainly it is impossible to pull them of if the victim is fighting against her attacker with all her force.” According to the court’s ruling, it is illogical to say a victim would ever passively submit to a rape.”

To protest the ruling, female members of the Italian Parliament wore jeans inside Parliament. One of the female members of Parliament who joined the protest was Alessandra Mussolini, the granddaughter of Benito Mussolini, who said the judges obviously had no understanding of how victims think or the psychology of rape.

Wabash holds third annual Day of Giving

For the third consecutive year, Wabash College will make another single-day fundraising attempt on Wednesday, April 27, hoping to raise nearly $500,000 in less than 24 hours.

“4.27 Wabash Proud” is a day designed to celebrate the College’s great tradition of philanthropy and the “Wabash Always Fights” mantra by generating gifts from students, alumni and friends.

The nearly 24-hour effort begins at 4 a.m. and runs through midnight. Combining the ideas of crowd funding — specific goals in a specific time period — with the buzz of social media, the #WabashProud campaign hopes to inspire participation and strengthen ties to Wabash, as was the case each of the first two years.

“Philanthropy has been central to Wabash’s success since our founding,” said Kevin Andrews, Director of Annual Giving at Wabash College. “In that time, the College often has benefited from the generosity of the local community. That generosity dates back nearly as long as the College’s 183-year history. Citizens of Crawfordsville collectively pledged $5,000 in September 1838 to rebuild South Hall after the building was gutted by fire. Today, this tradition of giving allows us to provide an unparalleled liberal arts living and learning experience for Wabash men.”

The effort on 4.27 features more than 300 online ambassadors engaging members of the Wabash network and aiding in spreading the word throughout the day.

Anyone can add to the buzz by following these four steps: make a gift, convince others to do the same, spread the word through your social networks and enjoy the excitement and success. Be sure to use the hashtag #WabashProud.

“I think it’ll be a special day for Wabash,” Andrews said. “Between the excitement around campus and the activity on social media, I think the Wabash community will feel inspired to make a lasting impact on the opportunities and experiences of Wabash students.”

As was the driving force last year, the campaign also features affinity challenges, where individuals or groups can make a gift and then

challenge other people or groups to do the same. If a gift is made (along with a code entered online), the challenger pledges an additional amount of money per gift.

“We want to share why we are proud to be a part of this special place,” Andrews said. “Every gift matters.”

For those interested in participating in the “4.27 Wabash Proud” Wabash Day of Giving, visit www.wabash.edu/427 or call (877) 743-4545. 

“This day will make a difference in the lives of our students,” Andrews said. “The Wabash community is proud of the life-changing education we are able to provide at the College. We want to see it strengthened with fun, excitement and philanthropy.”