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Monday, August 31 2009
Christmas will be a monthlong celebration this year in this Spencer County town famous for its name and gung-ho-ho spirit.

In past years activities were packed into one weekend.

“This is going to be the event we’ve always wanted but never had,” said Philip Koch, president of Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort, coordinating the celebration with Kevin Klosowski of Santa’s Candy Castle.

Activities will begin Nov. 20.

A major addition will be a 1.2-mile “Family Christmas Light Adventure” light show at Lake Rudolph next to Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari theme park.

Costing several hundred thousand dollars and telling the story of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, it will feature 35 scenes — each 20 to 30 feet tall — and is being custom built by Carpenter Decorating out of South Carolina.

“I always thought Santa Claus, Ind., should be celebrating Christmas in a tremendous way,” said Koch, “and last year on the Travel Channel I saw some other Bavarian communities (in Georgia and Oregon) that were doing a better job than we were.

“I found myself in the same position my grandfather (Evansville industrialist Louis J. Koch) was in in 1945 when he built Santa Claus Land here to give people something to do.”

Koch said he’s been told the light show will be the largest drive-through attraction of its kind at a campground in North America and the only one featuring an actual story line.

It will use energy-efficient LED lighting.

Plans also call for an illuminated Nativity scene, 23 feet high and 150 feet long, on the theme park’s parking lot — “kind of our gift to the community,” said Koch.

He said the campground 35 miles east of Evansville will involve charities in the light show and charge admission.

Visitors will have the option of staying in their car or renting a golf cart, according to Dave Lovell, marketing director at Lake Rudolph.

Other events during the town’s celebration will include a Nov. 20 tree lighting ceremony, a pre-Christmas dinner at Santa’s Lodge, a puppet show, Christmas Karaoke every Friday and Saturday, an early December parade and contests ranging from Christmas tree decorating and fruit cake eating to gingerbread house building.

Besides the lights at Lake Rudolph, the annual Festival of Lights tour of homes will continue the second and third Saturdays of December in nearby Christmas Lake Village.

There also will be chestnut roasting and performances by area choirs at the Candy Castle, a possible weekend craft show at Lake Rudolph and a wine tasting at Christmas Lake Golf Course.

Koch is asking charities and other organizations interested in running food booths or having entertainment to call (812) 224-1790.

“We want to help everyone in town,” Koch said, “churches, schools, charities, businesses and individuals. We want families to come here and create wonderful memories, to make people happy, raise money for charities and businesses and grow the town of Santa Claus.”

Meanwhile, Koch (three of his siblings own the adjacent theme park) expects to open the new Santa Claus Christmas Store by Labor Day in Kringle Place shopping center here. It’s being developed by his Santa Claus-based HO HO HOldings, which owns the campground.

It’s described as the largest store of its kind in the region and will carry gift items, indoor and outdoor Christmas lights, wreaths, tree trimmings, nativities, Christmas yard art, home decor, collectibles, candy and cookies.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas children can have their picture taken with St. Nick.

Koch says his goal is to make the town of 2,000 “synonymous with Santa Claus” and “attract people from all over the world to Santa Claus, Ind., no matter the season.”


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 07:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, August 30 2009

Consumer Reports magazine advises home owners not to put off important maintenance projects, noting that waiting until the economy rebounds could end up making the repairs more costly while putting a family's health at risk.

The magazine identifies five crucial maintenance issues: 

  • Check the gutters: Clogged gutters, broken fasteners and separations where the gutters meet the fascia board will lead to roof leaks if they haven’t already.
  • Inspect the roof: Cracked, curled and mussing shingles mean a roof is nearing the end of its useful life. Cracks around chimneys, skylights, and roof valleys can also suggest the roof might be leaking.
  • Look for bugs: Termites and carpenter ants can bore through a home in a few short years. Probe the sill plate on top of the foundation with a screwdriver to check for rotten wood. Also look for carpenter ants and termites along windowsills and walls.
  • Avoid mold: Mold and mildew can cause musty odors, dank air, and make residents sick. Check under carpets and around windows for visible mold or mildew.
  • Don’t ignore cracks: Foundation cracks wider than 3/16 of an inch can be a problem. These require examination by a structural engineer.

Source: Consumer Reports (05/04/2009)


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 07:30 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, August 29 2009

City of Evansville
One N.W. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
Evansville, Indiana 47708
Office of the Mayor
Jonathan Weinzapfel
August 28, 2009                                                                    Contact: Audra Levy
For Immediate Release                                                                        Communications Director
   (812) 436-4962
City of Evansville Forms Rapid Response Team
To Address Whirlpool Announcement
(EVANSVILLE, IN) – The City of Evansville, in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce of Southwest Indiana and the Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana, have formed a rapid response team to assist employees who will be effected by the closure of Whirlpool Corporation’s Evansville, IN manufacturing facility. The team will also work to retain the Product Development Center currently located in Evansville, which serves as the North American center for all refrigeration technology within Whirlpool.
“First and foremost, our hearts go out to the hard-working men and women who have to cope with what this decision will mean to their lives and the lives of their families. This is devastating news for them,” said Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel. “I want to assure the workers and their families that our team will be working with Whirlpool, the State and the Federal Government over the coming months to help them through this difficult transition.”
The rapid response team will immediately assemble all of the resources at its disposal to support employees as they work through the closure process. The team will also put together a competitive proposal to keep the Product Development Center and its jobs here in Evansville, and identify reuse opportunities and potential partners for redevelopment of the Whirlpool facility.
“Whirlpool Corporation has been a valued partner in our community for more than 50 years,” said Matt Meadors, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Southwest Indiana. “Even though the Company has assured us that there was nothing that the City or the State could have done to prevent this morning’s announcement, we need to do whatever is possible to retain the remaining pieces of Whirlpool’s footprint in our City.” 
The Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana, which acts as the umbrella economic development organization for Gibson, Posey, Vanderburgh and Warrick Counties, will take the lead on crafting a competitive proposal to keep Whirlpool’s Product Development Center in Evansville. “As difficult as the impact of the closure of Whirlpool’s manufacturing facility will be, we must also focus on how to retain the 300 technical jobs associated with the Product Development Center,” said Greg Wathen, President and CEO of the Coalition. “In spite of this morning’s announcement, the Evansville economy is still strong. We are confident that, with the State’s help, we’ll be able to keep the Product Development Center here and continue to attract new business and industry to the area.”
# # #
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Saturday, August 29 2009

Responding to discussions with the Vigo County Sheriff’s Drug Task Force and Child Protective Services (CPS) regarding the enormous problems resulting, both socially and economically, from methamphetamine drug abuse in Vigo County, the Terre Haute Association of REALTORS’® (THAAR) Community Services Task Force have gotten involved.

Particularly it is the children who have been removed the drug environment and placed in foster care. Children who have been removed from their homes by CPS leave with very few, if any, personal possessions, and frequently without even the clothes they are wearing.

THARR is aiming to help ease the transition for these children through a project called “Home Is Where You Are”. Through this project THARR seek to provide each child with their own bright duffel bag containing items such as toothpaste, toothbrush, a stuffed animal, a small fleece blanket, crayons, coloring book, pencils, pads of paper, underwear, socks, a candy bar or snack package, comb, and brush, etc.

The goal is to prepare 50 -100 duffle bags each year. Members, broker offices, and financial institutions donate specific items or make monetary donations. Local retail outlets are also contacted for help.

“Home Is Where You Are” is a wonderful, tangible way THAAR helps the innocent victims of this epidemic in their community.


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Friday, August 28 2009

Michigan-based Whirlpool Corp. (NYSE:HR) says it will close its Evansville facility in mid-2010, eliminating approximately 1,100 positions. Production of top freezer refrigerators will be transferred to Mexico. Icemakers are also produced in Evansville, but the company has not determined where that work will be relocated. Whirlpool is also evaluating options for the Refrigeration Product Development Center, which has 300 workers in Evansville.

It was seeking up to 100 employees and those reductions were due to start this month.

In February, workers accepted a new three-year contract, which included a pay raise of 95 cents per hour, new health insurance plan and a $350 signing bonus for most hourly workers.


Press Release

BENTON HARBOR, Mich., Aug. 28 -- Whirlpool Corporation (NYSE:WHR) announced today changes to its North American manufacturing operations resulting in the closure of its manufacturing facility in Evansville, Indiana. The closure will eliminate approximately 1,100 full time positions in mid-2010.

Production of top freezer refrigerators made at Evansville will be transferred to one of the company's existing manufacturing facilities in Mexico. Production of icemakers produced in Evansville will be relocated to a company-owned site yet to be determined. The announcement follows a comprehensive review of alternatives for product consolidation within the refrigeration product category.

The company also said that it is currently evaluating options for the best location for the Refrigeration Product Development Center, which is co-located with the Evansville manufacturing facility and has approximately 300 employees. A decision is expected in the near futur"This was a difficult but necessary decision," said Al Holaday, vice president, North American Manufacturing Operations, Whirlpool Corporation. "To reduce excess capacity and improve costs the decision was made to consolidate production within our existing North American manufacturing facilities. This will allow us to streamline our operations, improve our capacity utilization, reduce product overlap between plants, and meet future production requirements.

"We are announcing this decision nearly one-year in advance as part of our commitment to make the transition as smooth as possible."

Whirlpool is committed to helping the affected employees and their families with the transition. Conversations regarding transition assistance will begin immediately. The company also said it would work with local and state officials to help ensure that all available training resources are made available to affected employees, and to reposition affected facilities for future job development opportunities within the community.

The company's earnings and cash flow outlook for the full-year 2009 remain unchanged from the last update contained in its earnings release dated July 22, 2009.
About Whirlpool Corporation

Whirlpool Corporation is the world's leading manufacturer and marketer of major home appliances, with annual sales of approximately $19 billion in 2008, 70,000 employees, and 67 manufacturing and technology research centers around the world. The company markets Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Amana, Brastemp, Consul, Bauknecht and other major brand names to consumers in nearly every country around the world. Additional information about the company can be found at

Whirlpool Additional Information



Source: Inside INdiana Business, Evansville Courier & Press

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Friday, August 28 2009

EVANSVILLE - The Evansville Fire Department has received two prestigious awards at the 2009 Emergency Response Conference in Indianapolis.

The awards are the Basic Life Support Provider of the Year Award and the Emergency Medical Technician of the Year, which goes to Evansville Firefighter John Riggs who's been with the department for 15 years. Riggs is a 15-year member of the Evansville Fire Department and active with the Hazardous Materials Team and the Rope/Confined Space Rescue Team.  

"The Evansville Fire Department is comprised of great men and women who put their lives on the line every day for the citizens of this community. I commend them for the work they do to keep us safe and I applaud their efforts off the job as well," said Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel. "I want to congratulate the entire department for earning these well-deserved honors."

The conference is for Indiana's fire and EMS personnel and is sponsored by the Indiana Fire Chiefs Association.

"The Evansville Fire Department is proud to have a group of such good hearted and dedicated men and women. They are very deserving of this honor and are to be commended for another job well done. We are glad that they have been chosen for recognition," said Chief Keith Jarboe, Evansville Fire Department.

Congratulations to all in the department.


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Thursday, August 27 2009

An Evansville eatery has been named the "Manliest Restaurant in America." The men's lifestyle Web site, which is operated by AOL, says the Hilltop Inn has won the honor for 2009 in an online vote. The Web site's editor says the fried brain sandwich helped put the restaurant over the top. He says there's something about it "that's guaranteed to put hair on your chest."

Our partners at the Evansville Courier & Press reports the owners say they sell 13,000 pork brain sandwiches a year.

The Hilltop Inn captured nearly 67 percent of the 50,000 votes cast online.

It beat out restaurants from San Francisco, Boston and Arlington, Virgina in the final round of the competition.

Source:, Evansville Courier & Press

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Thursday, August 27 2009

New U.S. home data out Tuesday suggests the U.S. may be easing out of its 3-year housing slump.

The U.S. home prices index is made up of home prices in the 20 largest U.S. cities, and while Evansville isn't one of them, an Evansville mortgage banker says home sales here are following suit.

The for sale signs still litter neighborhoods, but the housing market is busy making its comeback.

"We have definitely seen a big increase in the number of purchase transactions we're doing over the last few months," says Shannon Curry-Bartnick, President of Mortgage Masters.

Curry-Bartnick says part of this "rise from the slump" comes as people's fears subside and they take advantage of the many incentives out there. The most talked about one being the 1st Time Home Buyer Credit.

"It's a really great opportunity to get a tax credit back, get yourself into a new home, and right now, there are historically low interest rates," Curry-Bartnick explains.

To be eligible, you either have to be a first time home buyer or have not owned a home in the last three years.

The credit is worth ten percent of the home's value, up to $8,000.

Home buyers have to close the deal by November 30th to get their credit.

If you're anxious to take advantage of the first time home buyer credit, but have a less than stellar credit history, Curry-Bartnick says you're not completely out of luck.

"There is more leniency there for things that may have happened in your past but that you may have remedied or overcome. You would potentially still be eligible," she explains. 

In addition to the first time home buyers credit, Curry-Bartnick lists off dozens of other deals and loans that can save a buyer money.

"There's the FHA loan, Rural Housing loans, VA loans, and conventional loans," she explains.

Not to mention bank-owned and foreclosed upon homes coupled with low rates. Buyers can walk away with a steal.

"We look at each person individually and find out what's well suited for their situation," Curry-Bartnick says.

To find out what you qualify for, Curry-Bartnick recommends sitting down with a mortgage banker. She says consultations are typically free.

But as NEWS 25 also learned, the Evansville housing market is not problem free, and there are hurdles that are keeping many deals from closing.

NEWS 25 will investigate those hurdles in a follow up story Wednesday.


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Thursday, August 27 2009

New U.S. home sales surged 9.6 percent in July, rising for the fourth straight month and beating expectations as the housing market marches steadily back from its historic downturn.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that sales rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 433,000 from an upwardly revised June rate of 395,000. Sales are now up 32 percent from the bottom in January, but off 69 percent from the frenzied peak four years ago.

Last month’s sales pace was the strongest since September and exceeded the forecasts of economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters, who expected a pace of 390,000 units. The last time sales rose so dramatically was in February 2005.

The median sales price of $210,100, however, was still down 11.5 percent from $237,300 a year earlier.

There were 271,000 new homes for sale at the end of July, down more than 3 percent from May. At the current sales pace, that represents 7.5 months of supply — the lowest since April 2007. The decline means builders have scaled back construction to the point where supply and demand are coming into balance.

Buyers, meanwhile, are rushing to take advantage of a federal tax credit that covers 10 percent of the home price, or up to $8,000 for first-time owners. Home sales must be completed by the end of November for buyers to qualify.

Builders and real estate agents are pressing Congress for that credit to be extended. If it isn’t, sales could reverse their upward trend.


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Thursday, August 27 2009

A bill that helps home buyers afford energy improvements and encourages banks to offer a discount on loans to pay for reducing energy usage passed the U.S. House in June and could pass the Senate in the fall.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 requires Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to offer discounts on mortgages that include extra cash for making a home more energy efficient.

These discounts, which are already in effect at some lenders like J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America, include savings on closing costs for homes that have Energy Star appliances.

The Federal Housing Administration is offering a plan through its approved lenders that allows borrowers to add the cost of making efficiency improvements into the mortgage, but the extra money doesn’t count toward determining how much loan a borrower can qualify for. For instance, a borrower who adds $5,000 to a $100,000 loan to afford new Energy Star appliances would only have to qualify for $100,000 – not $105,000.

Source: The Wall Street Journal (08/24/2009)


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Thursday, August 27 2009

Does your wooden deck need refinishing? There is an easy way to tell: sprinkle a few drops of water on your deck. If the drops bead on the surface, your deck is fine. If they sink into the wood, it's time for new finish.

These eight tips can show you how to refinish your wooden deck quickly and easily.

  1. Start with a clean deck. A pressure-washer can remove all the debris from your deck, even the stubborn dirt in those tight corners. For smaller jobs, use a stiff bristle brush and a good commercial cleaner.
  2. Protect the plants. To protect the grass and plants around your deck, douse them generously with water before you work with any chemicals. When you're done with the job, don't forget to rinse the plants and grass thoroughly to remove any chemical residue that might have landed on the foliage.
  3. Remove the old stain. To make this job easier, consider using a chemical stripper. It tends to work better than power washing on the areas where the old deck stain is harder to remove, such as on railings and in corners.
  4. Replace warped or discolored boards. Remove any problem boards and replace them with new ones. Check for protruding nails and hammer them down. If rough spots exist on the boards, sand them. Make certain your deck is clean and dry before proceeding to the next step.
  5. Consider your method. You can apply some stains with a paint roller, but smaller areas may need the help of a paintbrush. Another option is a sprayer, which should transfer the stain quickly and evenly, even in hard-to-reach areas.
  6. Choose and apply the finish. Remember that clear or tinted products should last about a year before they have to be replaced, while solid and semitransparent stains can last for two to four years.
  7. Apply more than one coat. One coat of finish is usually not enough. Keep in mind that you may have to allow drying time between coats, so it could take a week before the deck is completely refinished.
  8. Be patient. Your finish should dry thoroughly before you touch it or walk on it. Once the stain is set, you won't have to worry about refinishing your desk for at least another year.

Refinishing your wooden deck is a necessity to keep it looking nice, and especially important to avoid splinters and cracked wood. The nicer your deck looks and feels on your feet, the more likely you are to spend time on it and enjoy the fresh outside air.

About the author: Shannon Dauphin is a freelance writer based near Nashville, Tennessee. Her house was built in 1901, so home repair and renovation have become her hobbies.


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Wednesday, August 26 2009

St. Mary’s Medical Center’s quality improvement efforts have earned the Evansville hospital recognition in the U.S. News and World Report “America’s Best Hospitals” August 2009 issue. The issue included 569 other hospitals across the nation.

The recognition is based on St. Mary’s success using the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines (GWTG) quality improvement program.

In addition, in May the American Heart Association gave St. Mary’s a Silver Performance Achievement Award for its efforts to ensure patients with coronary artery disease, heart failure and stroke receive the care they need according to the association’s guidelines. The hospital had a one-year, 85 percent compliance rate with those standards of care.


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Wednesday, August 26 2009

EVANSVILLE - Evansville's new downtown arena is not built yet, but NEWS 25 learns plans are already in the works to figure out what to do with Roberts Stadium.

NEWS 25 questioned the Mayor and the Convention and Visitors Bureau Director about what they'd like to see done with the 53-year-old stadium.

All sorts of ideas have been thrown out about how to use the piece of prime property. Everything from tearing it down and turning it into a mall or water park has been mentioned, but NEWS 25 learned more firm plans are already being made.

Right now it's the place to go for concerts, shows, and large entertainment gatherings. Roberts Stadium is a venue the city spent millions to renovate less than 20 years ago.

But what will happen once the new arena goes up?

"We're looking at all our options but what probably makes most sense is this is an area that's recreational in nature and its seems to me we ought to keep it recreational in nature," says Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel.

Mayor Weinzapfel tells NEWS 25 the new arena may be close to three years away, but Roberts Stadium is already being studied by Evansville firm V.P.S. Architecture. We're told the study has been underway for a few months.

The Mayor says keeping this site for public use has his attention.

"That's a somewhat interesting prospect in terms of looking at that entire area which is recreational in nature, right next to Wesselman Woods, Swonder ice rink, Hartke pool."

Last year the idea of turning Roberts into a water park was thrown out, but Friday we talked to Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Marilee Fowler, who tells us she wants to see this property turned into a baseball and softball complex.

"We've done a great job with soccer and the new Goebel Soccer Complex we've been involved in building and bring tournaments to Evansville so we'd like to see the same thing with baseball and softball," says Fowler.

Fowler says more tournaments means more dollars being pumped into area hotels, restaurants, and shops. Fowler says she's already voiced her opinion to the Mayor.

"He's heard us for so long. Yes he knows our thoughts and interest," says Fowler.

"This is an issue that the arena advisory committee could help us take a look at. Obviously we'd want to have public meetings. We want public input on reuse of the property."

The Mayor says the study on Roberts Stadium should be complete in a couple of months.

NEWS 25 will continue to keep you updated on any public hearing on the matter


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Tuesday, August 25 2009
There is another national award for Holiday World, but this one doesn't have anything to do with fast roller coasters or huge water slides. A website called "the k-buzz" says Holiday World has the sixth best twitter profile in the country. Viewers of the k-buzz website voted for various profiles to determine the winner. A company called "Naked Pizza" in New Orleans was voted to have the best twitter profile in the country.
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Tuesday, August 25 2009

Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke said on Friday that he was optimistic the economy is about to take off.

Bernanke acknowledged that credit is still tight, especially for businesses, but he told an audience of bankers, academics, and economists that the worst is over.

"Although we have avoided the worst, difficult challenges still lie ahead," Bernanke said. "We must work together to build on the gains already made to secure a sustained economic recovery."

Bernanke called for stronger regulation of financial rules "to ensure that the enormous costs of the past two years will not be borne again."

Source: The Associated Press, Jeannine Aversa (08/21/2009)


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Tuesday, August 25 2009
The Hilltop Inn on Evansville's west side has been named the "manliest restaurant in the midwest". It's now in the running for the national title. The Hilltop Inn is the home of our "Dinner with the Coach" segment, as well as the famous brain sandwich. You can vote for the restaurant online at . Voting ends Wednesday.
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Tuesday, August 25 2009

What Has the Housing Crash Cost Americans?
How much real wealth have Americans lost so far in the real estate crash?

The Federal Reserve estimates that the total market value of U.S. homes fell 18 percent from $21.9 trillion to $17.9 trillion or about $13,000 per person from the end of 2006 through March 31, 2009.

The Fed also estimates that homeowner’s equity has declined 40 percent from the peak and now accounts for just 41.4 percent of real estate values. By comparison, after the last slump in the 1990s, home equity levels remained in the high 50s.

This collapse in equity makes it difficult for potential buyers to sell their homes and trade up, which many experts say will weigh heavily on the housing recovery.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Brett Arends (08/20/2009)

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Monday, August 24 2009

Bills to extend the maximum $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers, which expires Nov. 30, are pending in both the U.S. House and the Senate.

Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat and chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, is co-sponsor of a bill with Georgia Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson that would raise the credit amount to a maximum of $15,000.

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid of Nevada favors an extension of the current credit. He was quoted by the Las Vegas Sun saying, "It's something we can get done."

Odds are that the credit will be extended and broadened to cover all buyers next year, but the chances of the amount increasing aren’t as good, observers say.

Source: Washington Post Writers Group, Kenneth R. Harney (08/22/2009)


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Monday, August 24 2009

Here we have information on the annual Frog Follies Classic Car Show. You will have a great time with the family to go and look at all the vintage cars.

August 28-30. Vanderburgh County 4-H Center, 201 E. Boonville-New Harmony Road. Thousands of vintage cars will roll in for this annual event, presented by the Evansville Iron Street Rod Club to benefit Easter Seals and other charities.

In addition to concessions, games, and celebrity frog races, there will be a car parts swap meet. 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Fri.-Sat.; 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Sun. $5; free for children 12 and under. (812) 428-3764 or

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Sunday, August 23 2009

Ivy Tech Community College says it has a record fall enrollment and is still signing up as many as 2,000 students a day.

Some students are having trouble getting into classes they want or need to take. The school says those still planning to enroll for fall semester can get on waiting lists for courses, decide to take a class at another Ivy Tech campus or choose classes that start later in the semester.

Ivy Tech says a record 106,000 students are already enrolled in campuses across the state. That’s a 24 percent increase over last year’s fall semester and more students are still registering.

Classes start Monday at Ivy Tech campuses across Indiana.


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Sunday, August 23 2009

We don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl yet, but a zebra has been born at Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden and is on display with its parents in the zoo’s lower zebra area.

Zoo spokeswoman Charlotte Roesner said the foal's birth occurred early Thursday.

She said zookeepers won’t be able to examine the young zebra for several days, giving the animal time to bond with its mother.

And until they know the gender, they aren’t tossing out names.

“Sometimes the zookeeper who discovers (the birth) gets to name the baby and sometimes the zoo staff comes up with one,” said Roesner.

In the meantime, she said the youngster “is up and running around and nursing off its mother.”

Zebra foals typically weigh about 55 pounds at birth and are a fuzzy, light-brown color, with the black stripes coming later, said Roesner.

The baby’s 25-year-old mother is named Press after the city’s evening newspaper which closed in the late 1990s; the 21-year-old father is Courier in honor of the morning daily.

This brings the zoo’s zebra population to five.

The West Side attraction is open year-round from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (entry gates close at 4 p.m.)

Admission is $8.50 for adults, $7.50 for ages 3-12, with Vanderburgh County residents receiving a $1 discount.

Visit for more information.


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Sunday, August 23 2009
The newly released U.S. News & World Report's "Best Colleges" data lists the University of Evansville 10th among master's-granting institutions in the Midwest.

UE comes in second on a list of best values in the Midwest, trailing only Creighton University, and sixth in a "strong commitment to teaching" list for the region.

"Ranking where we did in each category, among 142 eligible institutions, is just one of the many indicators confirming our success in maintaining the highest academic quality at the University of Evansville," UE President Stephen Jennings said.

The magazine measures academic quality by using the assessments of administrators at peer institutions, student graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni giving.

In a nationwide list of best universities, the top 10 consist of Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford, California Institute of Technology, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Duke and the University of Chicago.

Notre Dame comes in 29th on that list, while Illinois is 40th, Purdue is 66th, Indiana is 71st and Kentucky is 116th.

Purdue is 22nd and IU 29th on a nationwide list of public universities, and IU's Kelley School of Business is rated the 12th-best business program.

Like Jennings, leaders at IU and Purdue were quick to tout their positions in the magazine's report.

IU Provost and Executive Vice President Karen Hanson said that magazine rankings "tell only a small part of the story, and their importance is often overemphasized.

But U.S. News performs a service by highlighting programs that are linked to student success, such as our student learning communities, study-abroad opportunities and the emphasis on writing."

Purdue University President France A. Cordova said the rankings "reflect our continued commitment to the student experience."

On a regional list of top master's-granting universities in the South, Murray State University is 18th, while Western Kentucky University is 29th.

The "Best Colleges" rankings are available today at and will be published in the September issue of U.S. News & World Report, available Monday.


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Saturday, August 22 2009

What used to be bare lawn is now a colorful playground at the Albion Fellows Bacon Center for victims of domestic and sexual violence.

The yard at the shelter for women and children in Evansville was never fancy — just green lawn inside a nondescript privacy fence — but it was graced with the cooling, peaceful shade of a large hardwood tree.

However, the loss of that tree in a storm last year left the yard with only a picnic table and no shelter from the sun.

That changed recently with the receipt of a $4,694 "two-for-two" grant from the Indiana Pacers Foundation and Verizon Wireless. The communications company pledged to contribute $2 for every two-point field goal the Pacers made during the 2007-2008 season. The Albion Fellows Bacon Center applied for and received a grant to transform its yard into a more hospitable space.

"The backyard used to just be a plain, grassy lawn. On a day when it is 95 degrees, there is not a woman who is going to sit out there without shade," said Jenny Ballard, assistant director.


The center used the money to purchase three new saplings of a variety of maple that is expected to grow into shade trees within a few years. More tables and a small shed also were added.

The main additions, however, were a swing set and a large piece of play equipment set in soft playground mulch.

The changes provide a secure place for children to play and their mothers to watch them outside the confines of the shelter's walls.

Help for guests

An average of about 25 women and children a month stay at the shelter. Women and minor children may stay there up to 45 days.

In addition, the shelter operates a 24-hour domestic violence and sexual assault hot line, support groups, crisis intervention counseling, advocacy and help referrals.


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Saturday, August 22 2009

Inside INdiana Business has learned that Shelby County is under consideration for a Harley-Davidson, Inc. motorcycle assembly plant and hundreds of jobs. "I can tell you company officials were in Shelby County Wednesday," said Shelbyville Mayor Scott Furgeson, who added the company is interested in a site outside city limits. The Milwaukee-based company is considering closing or restructuring a plant in York, Pennsylvania and moving that work to a new location.

The Business Journal of Milwaukee is reporting sites in Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana are among finalists for the investment and management has made official visits to all three states.

This week, sources have told Inside INdiana Business the new plant could mean between 800 and 1,500 jobs.

Source: Inside INdiana Business

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Saturday, August 22 2009

Bank of Evansville finds 'Bank On' program works

A Bank of Evansville program led to the opening of 324 bank accounts in the first half of 2009.

The program is a response to Census statistics indicating that 6,000 Evansville households lack bank accounts. It is believed those who live in such households spend more than $800 a year to cash paychecks and to write checks for their bills.

The 324 accounts added in the first half of 2009 were opened by the 15 financial institutions participating in the program. That number makes up 27 percent of 1,200 accounts the city wants to see opened through Bank on Evansville this year.

The average monthly balanced held in them was $219.

The National League of Cities has reported that Evansville has the fastest expanding "Bank On" program in the United States.

"These numbers show that Bank on Evansville is really making an impact in our community," Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel said.

— Dan Shaw


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Friday, August 21 2009

The Indiana Association of Realtors (IAR) reports statewide sales of single-family homes in July dropped 6.3 percent, compared to the previous year. IAR also says the median price declined by only 0.9 percent. Chief Executive Officer Karl Berron says there are signs the decline in home sales is slowing. He adds the state may be "near or at the bottom of this challenging period."

The Indiana Association of REALTORS® (IAR) today released its “Indiana Real Estate Markets Report” for the month of July as a continuation of its “Indiana is Home” project.

The Report, found online at, is the first-ever county-by-county comparison of existing single-family home sales in Indiana. IAR obtains the data directly from the state’s 18 largest Multiple Listing Services (MLSs) and the Broker Listing Cooperative® (BLC®) in central Indiana. July’s Report includes Dearborn, Ohio, Ripley, Switzerland and White Counties for the first time, bringing the Report’s representation to 93% of the housing market statewide.

July’s report was similar to June’s in that statewide sales of existing single-family homes decreased from the previous year. From July 2008 sales decreased 6.3%, but median prices declined at a much smaller rate of .9%.

“The decline in sales is slowing and when compared with a year ago, sales have not declined as much as they did in the first half of the year,” said Karl Berron, Chief Executive Officer. “This indicates that we may be near or at the bottom of this challenging period. Combined with the signs of the overall economy, there is cause for optimism.”

Clark, Allen, Johnson, Grant, Porter and Montgomery Counties saw increases in sales, median prices or both.

More about “Indiana Is Home”

It is a multi-media project aimed at keeping Hoosier homeowners, would-be homeowners, policymakers and the media well-informed on the ever-changing local real estate markets.

This month, media professional and host Pat Carlini narrates a third reportisode entitled, “1st Timer,” which explains how the $8,000 tax credit can be used by first-time home buyers, or those who have not purchased a home within the last three years.

Indianapolis-based Boost Media and Entertainment shot and produced all videos found at

IAR represents more than 16,000 REALTORS® who are involved in virtually all aspects related to the sale, purchase, exchange or lease of real property in Indiana. The term REALTOR® is a registered mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the world’s largest trade association, the National Association of REALTORS®, and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.

Source: Inside INdiana Business

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Friday, August 21 2009
Sales of previously owned homes surged in July as buyers stormed back to the market, taking advantage of falling prices, lower interest rates and a tax credit for first-time homeowners, an industry group reported on Friday.
Sales of condos and single-family homes each rose for the month, and the overall number of existing home sales rose 7.2 percent in July from June, the National Association of Realtors reported. It was the largest monthly gain since the group began tracking existing home sales in 1999.
Moreover, home sales last month were 5 percent higher than in July 2008. Homes were selling at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.2 million in July, up from a rate of 5 million last year.
It was the first year-over-year increase in home sales since November 2005.
“I’m a little bit flabbergasted,” said Patrick Newport, an economist at IHS Global Insight. “These are really good numbers.”
Some 30 percent of the homes sold in July were distressed properties like short sales or foreclosures, but that is a lower percentage than in previous months, when nearly half of all existing-home sales were estimated to be foreclosures.
Over all, economists said, Friday’s numbers offered another signal that the housing market was climbing out of the basement, even as foreclosures and delinquencies creep higher amid rising job losses.
Existing home sales — which make up the bulk of home sales — have risen over the last four months after crashing to record-low levels during the collapse of the housing market last year.
Sales of new homes rose 11 percent in June from a month earlier and are up since the winter, even though they are sharply lower than in the peak years of the housing boom. And sale prices for single-family homes are starting to stabilize in some of the country’s most distressed markets as bargain-hunters snap up distressed properties and cheap foreclosures.
The median sale price of homes nationwide fell to $178,400, and more homes poured onto the market as foreclosures increased and sellers detected a hint of enthusiasm among buyers.
Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the Realtors’ association, cheered the latest numbers.
“The housing market has decisively turned for the better,” he said in a statement.
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Friday, August 21 2009

If you’re planning to buy a condo or refinancing your condo you might sense the mortgage credit and mortgage refinancing squeeze.


Due to the results of the huge investors like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac including the new stiffer restrictions by mortgage insurers for condos, being able to refinance your condos mortgage seems to be tougher than one might have thought.


Starting May 1st one of the biggest private mortgage insurers will not cover refinancing condos or new buyers of condos in countless ZIP code areas around the country that have seen a “decline” in mortgage credit and market conditions.


Even if the market was at its healthiest a condo buyer will need to put a minimum of 10 percent down payment. Mortgage insurers would also reject and condo applications if more than 30 percent of the owners of the condo are investors.


Those condo buyers that have a 20 percent down payment would not feel the affects of the mortgage insurers cutbacks. Mortgage insures will continue to refinance mortgages and continue to take applications for condo buyers that have at lest 10 percent.


Huge mortgage refinancing lenders have issued new guidelines that make it tougher for mortgage refinancing lenders to make loans available to buy condos or refinance mortgages.


To insure these guidelines for condo buying or refinancing are followed loan officers now need to take into account the number of condo owners are late on fees, their legal information, the amount of commercial space available and percentage of investors that are owners of condos.


Smaller lenders find these new guidelines for condo buying and mortgage refinancing unfair. The complain that smaller insures due not have the man power to carry the extra work to help mortgage refinancing and condo buying.


Loan officers are required before approving applications for mortgage refinancing or condo buyers to confirm that minimum 10 percent of the condos budget is available for “capital expenditures and deferred maintenance.” Some lenders feel that many loan officers would not approve applications for mortgage refinancing or condo buyers if they see that less than 10 percent of the “budget” is available in non physical items even if it includes insurance.


The bigger mortgage lenders say that although mortgage refinancing and condo buying applications are going to be more difficult because of all the extra paper work including the extra man power needed is going to be difficult it is necessary because of the decline in condo and homes around the country.


President of Family Choice Mortgage Corp a Connecticut based business has said that in these difficult times in the economy potential condo buyers and people who would like to have their mortgage refinanced many will hear that they can not be accepted as qualified buyers until all of the paper work is submitted and qualifies. Some condo buyers and people that want to have their mortgage refinanced even with good credit and equity may find the process difficult.


Some private mortgage lenders are now refusing to approve condo units in the same condo project after a certain percent to help restrict their exposure to any losses.


President Of Equitable Mortgage Corp., Bruce Calabrese has said that even he would have trouble refinancing his mortgages on his two condos even though he is in the business.


-M Petrone


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Thursday, August 20 2009 - Seven to eight stories high, nearly 95 feet tall lined with glass walls and a facade that could include Indiana limestone - that is the vision for the proposed downtown arena that could enhance Evansville's skyline.

Architects unveiled the arena's interior and exterior plans Wednesday evening. The design includes the main entrance plaza near 6th and Main Street, not near Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard where some committee members and city leaders hoped.

"There are pros and cons either way. Is it more important to open it up toward Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard or does it make more sense to open it up to 6th and Main, where you could actually block off that entire area for some type of outdoor event if you wanted," says Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel.

The futuristic design would welcome visitors with floor to ceiling windows facing Main Street. "It makes a better city plaza and it also helps revitalize some of the Main Street district and put some of the focus back towards Main Street where we think it should be," says Jim Swords, one of the architects with the architectural firm, Populous.

Representatives hired by the city presented the drawings at a public meeting held at The Centre. The arena would be nearly 278,000 square feet and could hold over 11,000 seats in a horseshoe form. "I think it will fit in fine. It's the same size as all the other buildings," says Wayne Henning, Arena Project Committee.

There would be an estimated 6,000 seats in the lower section and 3,000 in the upper section. Nearly 1,000 seats would be in suites and other reserved areas. Additional seats could be added on the floor for concerts and other events. The floor of the arena will be ground level for easy access.

Most of the interior would be made of steel and concrete, with glass as accent walls.  Plans call for two staircases and escalators or an elevator for the disabled.

Architects say the arena will shine at night and illuminate downtown. Materials are expected to be environmentally friendly; architects say they'll even try to re-use rainwater that hits the large roof.

Mayor Weinzapfel says the meeting will give architects a chance to re-visit the plans for future improvements.


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Thursday, August 20 2009

OWENSBORO, KY - ABC's popular television show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" is coming back to the Tri-State next month to help build a new home for a family in need.

The show helped build a home in St. Meinrad in 2006, and now will help a family in the Owensboro, KY area. 

Thompson Homes of Owensboro will team up with Extreme Makeover for a one-week construction project.  All types of volunteers will be needed to donate their time and money to help finish this special project.  Details on how to volunteer will be available Thursday afternoon at

Five families within a 20-mile radius of Owensboro are being considered.

Construction begins on September 5th with the Door Knock.


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Thursday, August 20 2009

The Glenwood Community Garden and Wetlands Project got a financial boost Saturday when the Alcoa Foundation donated $15,000 to the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. Foundation.

Led by Mike Shoulders from VPS Architecture and the "Clean and Green" committee, the Glenwood Community Garden and Wetlands project is part of the larger Glenwood Community Development Initiative to "develop and implement a comprehensive neighborhood stabilization and improvement plan reaching beyond housing."

The community garden and construction of the wetlands will be used as a teaching tool and are part of a broader focus on housing and financial investment to address root social issues of urban blight and neighborhood deterio-ration.

Excitedto add support

"The Alcoa Foundation is excited about being able to add its support to such a broad-based, community-focused program that will positively influence the education of children while focusing on sustainability," said Jim Beck, communications and public affairs leader at Alcoa Warrick Operations.

"It's exciting how so many have already invested so much in this project."

"One of our goals for this project is to encourage a true sense of community among the Glenwood neighborhood residents," Shoulders said. "We hope the residents in the neighborhood will have a vested interest in maintaining the gardens and wetlands as a gathering place as well as a source of healthy food.

"We also want to educate both students and parents about plant care, organic gardening, and preparation of fresh food for healthy eating and local conservation efforts."

The first Glenwood Community Garden was planted this summer on the Glenwood Middle School property. The organic garden is about 65 feet by 85 feet and contains a small flower and herb garden, plus plantings of tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkins, green beans, red and green peppers.

The first harvest will be distributed to area residents to promote healthy eating and conservation with locally grown produce.

The $15,000 grant from the Alcoa Foundation will help with the distribution, as well as provide small grants of $600 to science teachers at Glenwood to develop curriculum and provide supplies for the research needed to further the progress of the garden and the wetlands, which also are near the school.

Approximately $5,000 would be used to research and develop the gardens and wetlands with appropriate, self-propagating and low maintenance plants, structures and signage. Another $5,000 would be used for materials, seed, fertilizer, tools, distribution baskets, bundling and other things related to the garden and wetlands.

Community partners

Many organizations have worked with Glenwood residents since the fall of 2008 to create a shared strategy for neighborhood improvement. They include the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp., EVSC Foundation, Glenwood Neighborhood Association, Habitat for Humanity, Keep Evansville Beautiful, Leadership Evansville, Morning Rotary Club, Welborn Baptist Foundation, Evansville Housing Authority, City of Evansville, Crossroads Christian Church and other churches in the Glenwood neighbor-hood.


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Wednesday, August 19 2009

EVANSVILLE - Unlimited hydroplane boats will be tearing up the Ohio River this weekend, but Thunder on the Ohio won't be like previous years. Since it split from the Freedom Festival, the event is expected to have a completely different vibe.

Barbeque, bands, beer and of course, boats will be wrapped around Evansville's downtown riverfront. That's where Thunder on the Ohio organizers hope racing fans from all over the Midwest will hang out for this weekend's event. It's a change of course for the annual race, in its 31st year.

"We're very optimistic," says Tom Sawyer, Chairman, Thunder on the Ohio.  "We've put together a package I think that will attract a lot of people."

Boat races are the main attraction, but organizers hope concerts, barbeque and beer gardens will offer race fans more bang for the $15 button. Classic rock and country music will rock the riverfront: the Marshall Tucker Band is booked for Friday night. On Saturday, Travis Tritt and Jack Ingram are scheduled to perform.

Throughout the weekend, the Rib America Festival will take place as nationally ranked teams compete. Beer gardens will also be open Friday and Saturday nights under the Casino Aztar Pavilion.

Ticket sales are being marketed all over the Midwest, including Nashville, St. Louis, Louisville, and Indianapolis. NEWS 25 wanted to know how confident organizers are about sales since the Freedom Festival didn't attract large crowds. "We're always concerned. This is always the point where we just don't know how many we're going to sell. We just don't know," Sawyer says.

Sawyer says conditions are perfect for the races. The Army Corps of Engineers reports that the Ohio River's level will be at 14 feet, which is better than previous years.

As for the unlimited hydroplanes, a fleet of 11 boats are expected to be in the pit area. The American Boat Racing Association teams will test Saturday morning with qualifying set for the afternoon. All elimination heat and the championship finals will take place on Sunday. 

Admission is $15 in advance and $20 at the gate. 


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Wednesday, August 19 2009

The original Evansville west side annexation plan appears to be dead.

The plan is coming up against a state-mandated deadline, and the city appears to be ready to let it pass.
City Council took no action on anything related to the annexation tonight.

The city held a public hearing on the west side annexation at a City Council meeting on June 22.
When it did that, the clock started to tick.30 and 60 days after a public hearing to take action on the ordinance.
It's going to be 60 days from Evansville's public hearing later this week.

Attorney Les Shively, who represents the people opposed to the west side annexation, said Monday night's City Council meeting looks like the last scheduled chance for Evansville to take a vote before the 60-day deadline.
"There's nothing that I think the landowners have to do affirmatively at this point," said Shively. "We'll have to see what the city's next move is."

Council President BJ Watts said he was unaware of the deadline issue.
But, he said the city plans to continue moving forward.
"As far as changing the lines that we came up with - the ma

yor and I agreed upon - to work out basically encompassing the commercial properties, I don't think there's been, there's not been a deference from that."
And, Watts thinks the city was basically required to start over anyway.

"If there's, I think the wording is 'drastic changes' in your financial plan, you have to start over from scratch. And, that wasn't an issue for us," Watts said. "If we have to start over from scratch to do it the right way, then that's the way we're going to do it."

But, Shively said the question is after letting the ordinance expire, can the city start over?
"There's not a lot of cases reported on the situation where the ordinance sort of expires under its own terms."
And, he's currently trying to figure out if he can argue that the city is about to box itself into a corner it legally can't get out of.

Shively said his clients worry the city, if it legally is able to, will continue to push new ordinance after ordinance until it gets some land.
And, then, it will use a piece-meal approach to getting the rest of the land it wants out there.


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Wednesday, August 19 2009

In former years, mostly only architects or engineers became LEED-accredited as professionals with the latest knowledge and understanding of green building practices.

But as green building projects are becoming more well-known across the nation and are expected to increase in popularity in the Tri-State, the accreditation also is being sought today by policymakers, stakeholders, interior designers, contractors and their associates, and product vendors, among others.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

LEED is a rating system of the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), which includes industry leaders working to make green buildings more widely available.

While the USGBC certifies sustainable businesses, homes, hospitals, schools and neighborhoods, it accredits professionals who demonstrate a thorough understanding of green building techniques, the LEED Green Building Rating System and the certification process.

The LEED AP (Accredited Professional) program is administered by the Green Building Certification Institute, established with the support of the USGBC to allow for an objective, balanced management of the credentialing program.

"Though LEED accreditations have become kind of buzz words, having the accreditation does give credibility to professionals seeking clients for green building projects," said Thomas W. Blythe, a LEED-accredited architect with Evansville's Hafer Associates PC.

Most of the green projects today require a LEED-accredited professional on its team, he said.

"The accreditation is a good standard of measure for building green buildings," said Blythe.

The accreditation is provided on different levels, based on accumulating points in these categories:

n Sustainable sites

n Water efficiency

n Energy and atmosphere

n Materials and resources

n Indoor environmental quality

The LEED rating system for buildings is a voluntary, consensus-based national rating system for developing high-performance sustainable structures.

Study courses — for professionals to attain the LEED AP accreditation — are mostly self-taught via USGBC's Web site, which offers study materials and other helpful resources. Locally, the Prometric Testing and Assessment Center on South Kenmore Drive provides computerized testing for the LEED accreditation.

"Though the standardized test for becoming accredited may feature mostly multiple-choice questions and can be taken in a portion of an afternoon, it's no slam dunk," said Blythe. "A candidate needs to allow plenty of time to study the manual at his or her own pace before taking the exam."

For more details, visit or call the local Prometric Testing and Assessment Center at (812) 479-6855.

Source: http://

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Tuesday, August 18 2009
 As expected, the City Council voted Monday to reinstate a credit that will lower property taxes paid by homeowners this year.

The homestead credit was eliminated April 1, 2008, in an unadvertised meeting attended by city and county officials.

The decision sparked outrage, not only because it raised property taxes, but also because the public didn't learn of it until more than a year afterward.

In reinstating the credit for 2009 on Monday, Councilman John Friend said the bulk of the increase in local property taxes this year resulted from the decisions of state lawmakers, not local officials. His 2009 bill went up by $800 — $640 of which was caused by the state's decision to reduce tax credits dispersed throughout Indiana.

Charlene Braker of Evansville said such statements miss the point. Residents aren't as much upset over the elimination of the local credit as they are over the way it was eliminated.

"It was about not having a voice," she said.

Mike Wilson of Evansville asked how taxpayers would receive their local credit this year. Jenny Collins, the city controller, said the method of the repayment hasn't been decided, but that it likely will appear as a reduction to their fall tax bills.

Meanwhile, a question arose over whether more could be done to lower property taxes in 2010. On Friday, the state sent local officials a letter detailing a plan that would use money raised through a new local income tax to lower property taxes.

The formula, laid out by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance, is a way of overcoming restrictions expected to reduce the benefit of the local homestead credit below what it was in 2008.

The first step of the plan would be to lower the county-option income tax from 1 percent to 0.95 percent.

This would be done by the governing bodies of Evansville, Darmstadt and Vanderburgh County, which together compose the county income tax council that has the responsibility over local homestead credits.

Although the statutory deadline for making such a change is Aug. 1 of the previous year, the state agency said it is "prepared to authorize an exception."

Next, local governments could recoup the lost 0.05 percent — almost $1.8 million, according to the state — by adopting a new 0.05 percent local-option income tax designated for property tax relief.

The state agency says those changes would offer about $5.06 million in tax relief while avoiding a net increase in income taxes. That amount is above the $3.3 million in credits local governments can now expect to receive in 2010, but is nearly equal to the $5.1 million they received in 2008.

"In 2009, the $1.8 million reduction in property tax relief (the reduction of the local homestead credit from $5.1 million in 2008 to $3.3 million) resulted in an increase of $1.8 million for local taxing units to spend," the Department of Local Government Finance wrote in its letter.

"If the county takes the actions described in this memo, the $1.8 million would be given back to taxpayers for property tax relief."

Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel said he and other local officials are studying the proposal.


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Tuesday, August 18 2009

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is suing another foreclosure consultant company, his eighth since taking office in January. The suit against National Foreclosure Consultant Services includes 11 consumers from Allen, Hamilton, Johnson and Marion counties and claims losses totaling more than $10,000. The legal action also claims the company did not register as a business in the state of Indiana.

INDIANAPOLIS – A lawsuit filed today against National Foreclosure Consultant Services (NFCS) by Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s Homeowner Protection Unit (HPU) marks Zoeller’s eighth suit against illegal foreclosure consultants since taking office in January. The lawsuit filed in Hamilton County includes 11 consumers from Allen, Hamilton, Johnson and Marion counties and reported losses totaling more than $10,000.

Zoeller’s efforts against illegal foreclosure consultants is fueled by a state-wide initiative to raise awareness among Hoosiers of the availability of free, certified mortgage counseling through the Indiana Foreclosure Prevention Network (IFPN). Homeowners at risk of foreclosure can contact the IFPN at 1-877-GET-HOPE.

“Considering the economic climate we are in, there is zero time to waste on this issue. We are taking an aggressive stand and we won’t wait for more people to be victimized or lose their homes through these illegal practices,” Zoeller said. “There are families in Indiana close to foreclosure and hard choices are being made right now. Illegal foreclosure consultants are not the people we want calling on Hoosiers promising they can save their homes when free, certified mortgage counseling is so easily available.”

Foreclosure consultants claim they can save a home from foreclosure by negotiating or modifying the terms of the homeowner’s existing mortgage. In some cases, the homeowner is directed not to contact their lender during this negotiation process. The lawsuit alleges NFCS did not obtain a necessary $25,000 surety bond to demand payment upfront from their customers. Without the bond, the company is barred from receiving payment until after all services have been performed.

The lawsuit also alleges NFCS failed to register as a business in the state of Indiana. Attorneys general in Florida, Illinois and Minnesota have also filed lawsuits against NFCS citing similar allegations.

The 11 consumer complaints included in the lawsuit allege homeowners were asked by NFCS to pay upfront fees ranging from $950 to more than $3,000 before services would be performed. NFCS failed to modify any of the mortgages for the 11 homeowners. Three of the homeowners were able to negotiate directly with their lenders and modify their own loans. At least one homeowner has filed for bankruptcy and is facing foreclosure.

The IFPN provides a toll-free hotline (1-877-GET-HOPE) which is available to help answer mortgage-related questions for distressed homeowners. For more information on foreclosure-prevention advice through IFPN, visit

“Anyone struggling with their mortgage payments or who may be facing foreclosure should contact the Indiana Foreclosure Prevention Network,” Zoeller emphasized. “I don’t mind sounding like a broken record if it means one more person hears this message and avoids the hazards of hiring a fraudulent foreclosure consultant.”


Of the seven prior lawsuits filed this year against foreclosure consultant companies, three have reached a resolution:

A settlement was reached in June with You Walk Away, Inc., located in California. In exchange for the case being dismissed, You Walk Away agreed to pay $4,000 in restitution to four Indiana consumers and $2,000 to the State for costs and fees.
On June 29, a Delaware County court ordered California-based American Mitigation Group, Inc. to pay $4,064.45 in consumer restitution payments to five Indiana consumers and $33,000 to the State for civil penalties.
On July 27, a Marion County Superior Court ordered Foreclosure Relief Agency, LLC. to pay $53,002.34 in consumer restitution to 52 Indiana consumers and $2 million in civil penalties to the State of Indiana.

Zoeller extended his appreciation to Deputy Attorney General Myron Rahn, III and the HPU for their passion and dedication to protecting the rights of homeowners and responding to and investigating consumer complaints against foreclosure consultants.

Source: Office of the Indiana Attorney General & Inside INdiana Business

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Monday, August 17 2009

Riverside Will Close Monday for Thunder Preparation


EVANSVILLE - Transportation officials say the lower Dress Plaza and Riverside will be blocked off from traffic starting Monday as crews prepare for Thunder on the Ohio. The event begins this Friday and the portion of road will remain closed until Tuesday August 25th.


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Monday, August 17 2009

An Indiana astronaut will be the pilot on the space shuttle Discovery's next mission to the International Space Station.

Kevin Ford was born in Portland, Ind., and considers Montpelier, Ind., his hometown. He will lead a seven-member crew on the mission scheduled to launch Aug. 25 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The astronauts will participate in a 13-day flight to deliver science and storage racks, a freezer to store research samples, a new sleeping compartment and a treadmill named after comedian Stephen Colbert. Colbert wanted NASA to name a room at the space station after him, but NASA decided instead to give his name to a treadmill.


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Sunday, August 16 2009

Sales and Inventory History
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Category - Single Family
Monthly Sales
Avg ListPrice
Avg Sale Price
% Diff Sell/list
Curr Inventory
Months Inventory
We can see from this chart from the Evansville Area Association of Realtors that the months of inventory on the market has been reduced considerably from the beginning of January 2009, where we had 15.06 months of inventory compared to 7.99 months of inventory at the end of July of 2009. Ideally we would like to see 6 months of inventory but 7.99 are not bad at all. Days on the market have increased a little bit. This of course does not pertain to very single home. Some homes sell faster than others.
Call me at 812-499-9234 for any questions or for any assistance with your real estate needs.

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Sunday, August 16 2009
Q: We have several questions about the first time homebuyer credit and hope you can help us.
First we want to verify that this was extended and that we can still qualify. We think it was extended for purchases from July 2, 2009, to Dec. 1, 2009. Is that correct?
I've never owned a home but my wife was married before and owned a home with her ex-husband. Can we still qualify for this credit based on my history of ownership? If we qualify, does it have to be a new home or just new to us? Could we just buy a lot to build on it later?
If my parents lend us money for the down payment, can we use the credit to help repay them? We don't know the difference between a credit and a deduction. Will we actually get $8,000, or a portion of that based on our income tax bracket?
Good questions, some basic and some not so basic.
If you are financially able to do so, this is a great year for a potential new homebuyer to make a purchase. Real estate prices are down, interest rates are low, and if you qualify, the government (with the help of my and other taxpayers' dollars) is going to give you an $8,000 tax credit. A tax credit is much better than a tax deduction. A credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the amount of tax you owe. If you owed $10,000 in federal income tax, the $8,000 credit will reduce the amount of tax you pay to $2,000.
As you indicated, an $8,000 deduction in an assumed 15 percent federal income tax bracket would only reduce your tax liability by $1,200 (15 percent of $8,000). If you owed taxes of $10,000, you'd still owe $8,800 with an $8,000 deduction.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 allows for a tax credit of as much as $8,000 for qualified first-time homebuyers purchasing a principal residence on or after Jan. 1, 2009, and before Dec. 1, 2009. It eliminated the 15-year "recapture rule," making it a true no-strings-attached tax credit. The tax credit enacted in July 2008 required repayment of the credit, making it similar to an interest-free loan. Now, repayment is not required as long as the home remains a principal residence for at least three years (certain exceptions apply).
The credit is equal to 10 percent of the home purchase price up to $8,000. You can't buy a lot, a vacation home or rental property to qualify; you must purchase a home to be used as your principal residence. If you already own a vacation home or rental property but not a personal residence, you can still qualify.
The home can be new or a resale; it only has to be new to you and your spouse as owners. If your wife has not owned a home for three years before you two purchase a home, you will meet this qualification test for a first-time homebuyer. If she owned a home as her principal residence during the three-year period prior to your purchase, you will not qualify for the credit. If you were buying a home together and weren't married, the credit could be allocated to you even though she owned a home within the three-year period.
The credit is phased out if, as a married couple, your modified gross adjusted income is between $150,000 and $170,000. The full credit is allowed for MAGIs less than $150,000 and not for MAGIs of $170,000 or more. The credit is reduced proportionally for those with MAGIs within this range. The range for single filers is $75,000 to $95,000. Adjusted gross income is the first number on Page 2 of your tax return. Certain incomes are added to AGI to determine MAGI.
Contact your tax adviser or see IRS form 5405 for more details on MAGI.
Your parents can give or lend you money for a down payment, and you can use the tax credit to help repay them. Anyone can give as much as $13,000 to anyone each year without tax consequences.
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Sunday, August 16 2009

When visiting Chattanooga in May, a group from Evansville heard a tale of how cooperation led to great improvements for the Tennessee city's downtown.

Travelers on the trip, organized by the Chamber of Commerce of Southwest Indiana, were duly impressed. But they would be naive to think the progress came without some bumps.

As could be expected in any place which had undertaken a large number of public projects over the course of 20 years, Chattanooga leaders didn't accomplish what they did without contending with critics. Several years before the city opened its famous Tennessee Aquarium along its riverfront, a supporter of the project complained of public resistance.

A chief gripe concerned the city's decision to display nothing but freshwater fish in the tanks. Few tourists, critics said, would pay to see species found in the Tennessee River. But Jack Lupton, who made his fortune by bottling Coca-Cola, believed in the project enough to put at least $10 million from his family's Lyndhurst Foundation toward it.

"Everybody's saying, 'Who the hell wants to go down there and look at the bream and catfish,' " Lupton told a newspaper about six years before the aquarium opened. "Well, if that's where they're coming from, they are going to be truly shocked."

His prediction proved true. Looking back, many Chattanooga leaders consider the aquarium the first step the city took toward reviving its downtown.

Since then, the total for-private money invested in the area near the city's riverfront has approached $2 billion. Other attractions include a baseball stadium, a foot bridge, free concerts, a children's museum, an IMAX theater and about 30 restaurants. The amenities have helped Chattanooga draw big businesses like Blue Cross Blue Shield and Volkswagen, which is building a plant just outside the city.

Seeing the results, even those usually skeptical of government have had little but praise. Christian Lanier, a Chattanooga attorney who once had led a local citizens taxpayers association, said most of the criticism dissipated once the improvements began to appear.

Of course, to truly appreciate the changes, a visitor has to know what Chattanooga's riverfront was once like. When Lanier moved there in 1977, a large part of the central business district was filled with empty buildings. Not many years before, Walter Cronkite had said the city had the worst air of any in the United States.

Residents were afraid to go downtown because of crime. Who, given those situations, would resist changes for the better?

"There are a lot of public-private partnerships down here, and you can argue against those on a theoretical basis," Lanier said. "But that is the way it is done here, and it works."

Here is what some of the Evansville travelers had to say about the cooperation they heard about in Chattanooga.

n Christine Keck, the director of strategy and systems development for renewable energy for Energy Systems Group: "I was really inspired by what the area, between the city and county, has done. The fact is that the city and county are very similar in size to Vanderburgh County. It was encouraging and gave me hope for how we can further the success of our community. I do recognize that their area has some advantages. They have major north-south and east-west interstates, both of which carry a tremendous amount of vehicle traffic. With Interstate 69, we will certainly get closer to that."

n Mike Schopmeyer, a lawyer with Kahn Dees Donovan & Kahn: "If you look out 20 years from now and assume we are a community that has an interstate running north and south, it's going to carry a lot more cars than we have ever seen, once it connects to Memphis. And if you look at all the advances we have made, we can duplicate some of the improvements that they have. The biggest take away was: There has to be a shared vision, whatever it is for. If it's 20 or 12 or six things, these are things that will make a better community in which to grow up, work, retire and attract folks that have a better income.

n Lloyd Winnecke, Vanderburgh County Commissioner: "I didn't see anything on the trip that we couldn't aspire to. The beauty of trips like this is we can pick up the strategies they have used to succeed and apply them in our community. An aquarium might be a great attraction. I don't know if that's what we need. That's not to say we can't take the energy they had on that project and apply it to a project on the drawing board here. Specifically, I'm thinking of the proposed baseball and softball complexes that have been discussed for two or three years."

n Steve Melcher, Vanderburgh County Commissioner: "I really liked the riverfront and their trailway system. And I have asked for some information of what it has cost them (for) a mile of trail, to see if it's the same for our greenway. They have 22 miles, and they have done that in 10 years or so. And we have been at it for more than 10 years, and we don't have 22 miles. But I liked the way they had the downtown spread out. It didn't seem like you were walking a far distance."

n Evan Beck, president of Woodward Commercial Realty: "I think that Chattanooga, as compared to other places we have visited, offers so many similarities to our communities here. Regionalism has been a strong component of each of these trips. And that's something we have improved on. I think what I saw that we could implement was the overall willingness of various organizations to work together for a common goal. I think our communities have come a long way in the past five years. But from what I saw in Chattanooga, we can still improve in that area."


EBJ STAFF WRITER / (812) 464-7519 Downtown improvements


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Saturday, August 15 2009
Here’s more evidence that housing is turning around. Forbes magazine identified 161 of the country’s largest metro areas where sales activity has increased compared to 2008, and where foreclosure sales as a percentage of total sales, are low.

The magazine considers these markets as on the road to recovery.
1. Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
2. Lincoln, Neb.
3. Colorado Springs, Colo.
4. Salem, Ore.
5. San Luis Obispo, Calif.
6. Bremerton, Wash.
7. Denver, Colo.
8. Redding, Calif.
9. Santa Barbara, Calif.
10. San Jose, Calif.

Source: Forbes, Matt Woolsey (08/13/2009)
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Saturday, August 15 2009

This report makes interesting reading about the Indiana economy.

Indiana in the International Economy
Exports from Indiana to foreign countries reached a record $25.9 billion in 2007, up more than 14% percent over the previous year

Commercializing Innovations
Through the 21st Century Research and Technology fund, Indiana has committed to invest more than $82.3 million in 63 high-tech companies to help each bring their innovations to market, keeping the innovations and associated high wage jobs in Indiana.

More Jobs for Hoosiers
660 businesses have committed to create 81,101 jobs and invest $19 Billion in their Indiana operations since Jan. 2005

  • 2009 - 2,413 new jobs committed and $253 million in capital investment
  • 2008 - 18,659 new jobs committed and $4.2B capital investment
  • 2007 - 22,627 new jobs committed and $3.38B capital investment
  • 2006 - 21,995 new jobs committed and $8.44B capital investment

Increasing Hoosier Income * The average wage for new job commitments from competitive projects is $22.39/hour – well above the state average wage of $18/hour.

Recent Rankings
Best Business Environment
Indiana ranked first in the Midwest and eleventh in the nation in Chief Executive magazine’s fourth annual "Best & Worst States" survey. Indiana was the highest ranked state outside of the sunbelt in the survey. Indiana ranks fifth in the nation and best in the Midwest for its business climate (Site Selection Magazine – Nov. 2008)

Cost of Doing Business
Indiana has the lowest business cost index in the Midwest and sixth lowest in the country. (Forbes – July 2008) Indiana ranks first in the Midwest in the Milken Institute’s most recent Cost of Doing Business Index--based on: wage cost, tax burden, electricity cost, industrial rent cost, and office rent cost.

Top Tax Climate
Indiana ranks 1st in the Midwest and 14th nationally in the Tax Foundation’s 2009 Business Tax Climate Index

In-Sourcing Jobs
Since 2005, international companies have committed more than $8 billion into their Indiana operations and more than 15,800 new jobs Indiana ranked number one per capita in North America in the creation of production jobs through foreign investment in 2007. (IBM 2008 study)

Building the ‘Best Sandbox’
Major initiatives since 2005 aimed at improving Indiana’s competitiveness:

Major Moves –Ten-year fully funded $12 billion highway plan that includes more than 200 new construction and 200 major preservation projects

Telecommunications Reform - Indiana’s Telecommunications Deregulation Act has brought increased competition, leading to new investments and jobs

HQ Relocation Tax Credit – Reinforces the state’s commitment to attracting new headquarters opportunities to Indiana

Single Factor Sales Apportionment - Eliminates the tax penalty associated with companies adding jobs and investing in new capital equipment in Indiana

R&D Tax Credit – Provides a tax credit equal to 15% of a company’s first 
$1 million of qualifying R&D expenditures, giving Indiana one of the highest R&D tax credit percentages in the country

Patent Income Exemption - Exempts certain income derived from qualified patents from the calculation of a company’s tax liability

Buy Indiana – Pumps up to $1.2 billion back into the Indiana economy by directing state agencies to purchase goods from Indiana businesses

Health Care Plan – Provides insurance for up to 130,000 low-income Hoosiers annually and encourages Hoosiers to stop smoking


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Friday, August 14 2009

Three major projects will be highlighted at the Indiana Minority Supplier Development Council's annual Southern District Business Opportunity Fair. Participants will learn about the downtown Evansville arena, Casino Aztar's remodeling and construction and EVSC-New North High School construction. The two-day conference is scheduled for September 22 and 23 at The Centre in Evansville.

The Indiana Minority Supplier Development Council (IMSDC) is proud to host its annual "Southern District Business Opportunity Fair” in Evansville, IN. The event will be held at The Centre on September 22nd & 23rd, 2009. The primary focus of this two-day event is to network both majority corporations and minority business enterprises in addition to providing education and visibility in the area of supplier diversity. The agenda for this two-day event includes an exhibitor trade show featuring minority suppliers, corporate luncheon, networking reception, premier educational workshops, and “Future Opportunity Forums”.

The conference is an excellent opportunity for purchasing professionals, corporate CEO’s, and human resource professionals wanting to learn more about the importance of corporate supplier diversity programs.

The Indiana Minority Supplier Development Council (IMSDC) is a free standing minority supplier development council. The organization is an affiliate of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) and one of 38 regional councils operating in the United States.

To learn more about the 2009 IMSDC “Southern District Business Opportunity Fair” or for registration information, please visit our Web site at

Source: Indiana Minority Supplier Development Council & Inside INdiana Business

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Friday, August 14 2009

— The Warrick County Industrial Park outside the county seat was underutilized for years with several properties idle.

No more.

"We've filled all but one of the sites, and we've got three people coming to look at that remaining space," Larry Taylor, the director of the Economic Development Department, said Monday.

"We're starting to see the results of the county's investments in infrastructure."

Prime Foods, a company that processes egg products and salad bar supplies, "has been up and running on about eight acres for some time now," Taylor noted.

Troyer Foods, a food distribution company, purchased a lot in the industrial park as did American Cold Storage, a frozen foods distributorship.

"All of a sudden, there's a lot of activity," Taylor said. "For years, Warrick was one of the fasting growing residential counties in the state. Now businesses are moving in to service those new residents."

Taylor credits better roads for the improved economic climate.

"It used to be that Morgan Avenue in Evansville to Boonville was pretty much a twisting two-lane road. Now there's a four-lane highway completed past Chandler with construction going on toward Boonville. It's much easier now for trucks to get where they want to go."

Taylor anticipates a late summer opening of Brentwood Meadows, an addiction and mental health facility near Castle High School.

"From what I've been told, it's a rehab center in the mold of a Betty Ford Clinic. They'll hire something like 50 employees and those will be very good jobs."

Taylor said the facility represents an investment of about $4 million.


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Friday, August 14 2009


Enjoy an evening sampling microbrews, wines, spirits, and unique cuisine. Proceeds benefit the Southwestern Indiana Regional Council on Aging, which serves elderly and disabled residents of Southwest Indiana. 6-10 p.m. $25 pre-event, $30 at the door, $20 group rates (15 or more tickets) available prior to event. (812) 464-7800 or

August 15. SWIRCA, 16 W. Virginia St. 
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Thursday, August 13 2009

Holiday World in Santa Claus has announced the second-largest ride in the park's 64-year history. The $5.5 million Wildebeest is expected to open in Spalshin' Safari next May. Park officials are describing it as The World's Longest Water Coaster, which will cover more than two acres. The project is the second-largest single ride investment ever at the park. President Will Koch anticipates the expansion will lead to an additional 50 seasonal employees next summer.

SANTA CLAUS, IN-----The second-largest ride addition in Holiday World’s history is announced today: The World’s Longest Water Coaster will open in Splashin' Safari next May.

“We’re calling our huge new water coaster Wildebeest,” says park president Will Koch. “And when we say it’s long, we really mean it. Wildebeest is one-third of a mile long and it will thrill riders for two-and-a-half splashing minutes of hills, drops, twists and turns.”

Located north of Bahari wave pool, Wildebeest will begin with a conveyor ride up the water coaster’s lifthill. Following the 38-foot drop at a 45-degree angle, linear induction motors (LIMs) will propel the four-person rafts up seven additional hills, through three tunnels and around a helix. Wildebeest will cover more than two acres, increasing the water park’s size to 27 acres.

“The LIM technology for shooting the rafts up the hills is fascinating,” says Koch, who earned an electrical engineering degree at Notre Dame. “An alternating magnetic field beneath the slide surface propels the rafts, pushing them rapidly and smoothly uphill. LIM technology is a popular feature in some steel roller coasters; it’s cool to see it applied to water coasters, too.”

The conveyor-style lifthill replaces any slide-tower stairs, making the water coaster accessible to riders who might have difficulty walking up stairs.

Today’s announcement marks the second largest single-ride investment in the park’s 64-year history. Koch says the price tag for Wildebeest is $5.5 million. He predicts the need to hire an additional 50 seasonal employees next season, in addition to this year’s total of 2,000 seasonals.

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari are open daily through Sunday and most weekends through October 11. For more information, visit the parks’ website at or call 1-877-463-2645.

Source: Holiday World & Splashin' Safari

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Thursday, August 13 2009

The Darmstadt community in northern Vanderburgh County will be getting a CVS/pharmacy and a Papa John's pizza store.

The news follows an announcement by Integra Bank that it also plans to build a full-service banking center in the same general area, off the intersection of Boonville-New Harmony Road and U.S. 41 North.

Spokesmen for the proposed projects say they were partly drawn to the growing retail district by plans by the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. to have a new high school built just down the highway, off the southeast corner of Baseline Road and U.S. 41.

n CVS is expected to break ground within the next 45 days or more for the new drugstore, earmarked for a 1.6-acre lot in Grant Hills Commercial Subdivison, off the southeast corner of Boonville-New Harmony Road, said Otha Warren, who represents Warren 41 North Property, LLC, development company.

The Warrens expect to close on the purchase of the acreage from Evansville developer Gene Hahn in the near future, he said.

The new drugstore will offer 13,225 square feet of space — considerably more than that of recent new CVS stores. It is expected to be complete next spring.

n The Papa John's already is under construction, across 41 in Northfield Commercial Center, next to the Buehler's Buy-Low Fuel Center.

The 1,650-square-foot store is expected to be complete and begin providing carry-out and drive-through services within six weeks, said Kevin King, owner.

It will be part of a new building containing 3,000 square feet of space. King plans to lease the 1,350-square-feet of space not used by Papa John's.

n Integra is proposing a banking center also in Northfield on a lot next to Fifth Third Bank, according to Greg Pence, Integra executive vice president/director of marketing.

The date for the start of construction is undetermined, but Integra plans to be in the facility by spring.

"The plans for the new high school (which will replace North High School) played a role in determining the location for the new drugstore in the eyes of CVS officials," said Warren.

The school corporation's proposed building project also is expected to provide middle school facilities for replacing Oak Hill Middle School.

In all, between 2,300 to 2,400 students or more will attend the new facilities, beginning in 2011, said Marsha Jackson, the EVSC communications director.

"That many students and their parents will bring increased traffic to the area," Warren said. "It's also an opportunity for us to provide a top-quality retail pharmacy in an area where there is none ... It will be a good growth area for lots of years to come."

Gene Warren, Otha's father and a veteran developer and a managing partner for the drugstore project, said he believes CVS's plans to build yet another new store in the Evansville area is good news in today's economic downturn.

"It shows the chain's continued confidence in the area market and in the future of our economy," he said.

The Warren family most recently developed a new CVS, which is nearing completion at U.S. 41 and Washington Avenue, and is completing a new CVS in Mayfield, Ky.

King said his Papa John's store will be able to produce 200 pizzas an hour. He looks forward to getting some of the school trade as well as business from industries located in the area.

The store will become his eighth Papa John's in the region.

When he opened his first Evansville store in 1991, it was the 52nd in the fast-growing chain of the Louisville-based Papa John's.

When King built his Newburgh store 10 years later, in 2001, it was the chain's No. 2853 store.

He said the Darmstadt store will become the chain's No. 3681 store.


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Thursday, August 13 2009

Evansville-based Escalade, Inc. (Nasdaq: ESCA) has announced net income of $366,000 for the second quarter of 2009, compared to a net loss of $704,000 for the same quarter last year. The company says net sales of sporting goods fell 19.8 percent compared to last year, while net sales of office products declined 26.3 percent.

Evansville, Ind. -- Escalade, Incorporated (NASDAQ: ESCA) announced that net income for the second quarter of 2009 increased to $366 thousand or $0.03 per share compared to a net loss of $(704) thousand or $(0.06) loss per share for the same quarter last year. Net sales for the second quarter and first half of fiscal 2009 declined 22.2% and 19.2%, respectively, compared to same periods last year. For the first half of 2009, the Company has improved gross margins by 330 basis points and reduced selling, administrative and general expenses by 22%, mainly due to facility consolidation in the Sporting Goods segment and Company-wide cost cutting measures implemented last year, resulting in improved Company profitability.

Sporting Goods net sales declined 19.8% and 16.6% in the second quarter and first half of fiscal 2009 respectively, compared to the same periods last year. Based on the first half year results and product placement information, the Company expects Sporting Goods sales to be approximately 20% lower in 2009 compared to 2008. The Company is continuing to identify and implement cost saving initiatives and product design enhancements to expand market share and improve Company profits.

Compared to last year, Office Products sales declined 26.3% and 23.4% for the second quarter and first half of fiscal 2009, respectively. Sales declined 21.8% in the United States and 24.8% in Europe for the first half of 2009. The Company expects sales declines for the remainder of 2009 to be relatively unchanged from the decline experienced in the first half of fiscal 2009.

"Although we continue to experience challenging conditions in the retail market, we are pleased to deliver improved earnings and cash flow during the second quarter," said Robert J. Keller, President and Chief Executive Office of Escalade, Inc. "Our aggressive cost savings initiatives, including facility consolidation and operational streamlining, have resulted in improved gross margins and lower SG&A expenses. Our focus on working capital management has generated significant improvements in cash flow through the first half of 2009. In addition to streamlining our operation and reducing inventory levels, we are diligently focused on building our core brands through strategic marketing investments, innovative new products, and increased product distribution."

Escalade is a leading manufacturer and marketer of sporting goods and office/graphic arts products sold worldwide. To obtain more information on the Company and its products, visit our website at: or contact Deborah J. Meinert, Vice President and CFO at 812/467-4449.

Source: Escalade Inc.

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Thursday, August 13 2009
 Lighting control manufacturer Lutron Electronics helps homeowners visualize energy savings with the new eco-minder™ family of dimmers. The eco-minder family is an addition to Lutron's energy saving line of dimmers.

Lutron's innovative, new, eco-minder dimmers feature an LED display that provides the user with instant feedback when they are saving at least 15% energy, allowing them to see as they save. The eco-minder reminds users to dim their lights to reduce energy consumption, as well as allows them to show others how to conserve energy. Replace a standard switch with an eco-minder dimmer and save up to $30 per year*. Dim lights by 15% to extend bulb life by three times.

Lutron Electronics' Meadowlark eco-minder Light Dimmer

Lutron Electronics' Meadowlark eco-minder Light Dimmer


The eco-minder family includes two different styles of dimmers.

Maestro® eco-minder:

  • The eco-minder LED lights change from red to green when the user is saving at least 15% energy
  • Customizable, delayed, fade-to-off lets the user leave the room or get into bed before the lights go out
  • Available now in white; available in July in ivory, almond and light almond at electrical distributors, lighting showrooms, online retailers and
  • Suggested list price is $45.50

Meadowlark™ eco-minder:

  • The eco-minder LED light changes from red to green when the user is saving at least 15% energy – the green light brightens to indicate additional energy savings
  • New slide dimmer with Designer-style opening provides smooth dimming operation
  • Rocker switch allows users to turn lights on to a set level
  • Available in July in white, ivory, almond and light almond at electrical distributors, lighting showrooms and online at
  • Suggested list price is $24.80



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Wednesday, August 12 2009
Existing-home sales in the second quarter showed healthy gains from the first quarter in the vast majority of states, and price declines have increased affordability in most metro areas, according to the latest survey by the National Association of REALTORS®.

Total state existing-home sales, including single-family and condo properties, rose 3.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.76 million units in the second quarter from 4.58 million units in the first quarter, but remain 2.9 percent below the 4.90 million-unit pace in the second quarter of 2008.

Thirty-nine states experienced sales increases from the first quarter, and nine states were higher than a year ago; the District of Columbia showed both quarterly and annual rises.

Gain Appears to Be Sustainable
“With low interest rates, lower home prices, and a first-time buyer tax credit, we’ve been seeing healthy increases in home sales, which are a hopeful sign for the economy,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “There have been sustained sales gains in Arizona, Nevada, and Florida, as well as diverse areas such as Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Nebraska. More recently, we’ve seen strong double-digit gains in Idaho, Utah, New Mexico, Washington, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, Maine, Vermont, Wisconsin, Indiana, South Dakota, and Montana.”

Yun also explained housing’s impact on the overall economy. “Given the need for related goods and services, each home sale pumps an additional $63,000 into the economy – that’s how the housing engine traditionally pulls us out of recession. In addition, sales are drawing down inventory and that will help stabilize home values, which in turn will lessen foreclosure pressure and boost credit availability for other sectors of the economy.”

Distressed Sales
During the second quarter, 129 out of 155 metropolitan statistical areas reported lower median existing single-family home prices in comparison with the second quarter of 2008, while 26 areas had price gains.

Distressed sales – foreclosures and short sales – accounted for 36 percent of transactions in the second quarter, which continued to weigh down median home prices because they typically are sold at a 15 to 20 percent discount; first-time buyers accounted for one-third of transactions. The national median existing single-family price was $174,100, which is 15.6 percent below the second quarter of 2008.

According to Freddie Mac, the national average commitment rate on a 30-year conventional fixed-rate mortgage declined to a record low 5.03 percent in the second quarter from 5.06 percent in the first quarter; the rate was 6.09 percent in the second quarter of 2008.

NAR President Charles McMillan said there are unique opportunities in the current market. “Housing affordability is hovering near record highs and there’s a wide selection of homes, but first-time buyers need to move quickly to take advantage of the $8,000 tax credit because they have to finalize the transaction by November 30,” he said. “Various state, local, and nonprofit programs target first-time buyers, and a REALTOR® can help you identify the programs and financing options that are currently available in your area.”

The largest sales gain between the first and second quarters were in:
  1. Idaho, up 67.5 percent
  2. Hawaii, up 24.2 percent
  3. New York, up 22.3 percent
  4. Wisconsin, up 21.7 percent
  5. Nebraska, up 20.3 percent

Twelve other states experienced double-digit sales increases from the first quarter. Year over year, California, Minnesota, and Michigan are showing double-digit gains from the second quarter of 2008 but are off from the first quarter of this year.

The largest single-family home price increase in the second quarter was in the Davenport-Moline-Rock Island area of Iowa and Illinois, where the median price of $113,200 rose 30.6 percent from a year ago. Next was the Cumberland area of Maryland and West Virginia at $123,500, up 21.7 percent from the second quarter of 2008, followed by Elmira, N.Y., where the median price increased 11.3 percent to $85,000.

Price Gains and Declines
“The sharpest price declines continue to be concentrated in metros with high levels of foreclosures, including areas in California, Florida, Arizona, and Nevada, where distressed homes comprise many of the transactions,” Yun said.

Median second-quarter metro area single-family home prices ranged from a very affordable $55,700 in the Saginaw-Saginaw Township North area of Michigan to $569,500 in Honolulu. The second most expensive area in the second quarter was the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area of California, at $500,000, followed by San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont at $472,900.

Other affordable markets include the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman area of Ohio and Pennsylvania at $71,500, and Lansing-East Lansing, Mich., at $81,200.

“Recently sold homes are concentrated in lower price ranges. The median price may not be representative of overall values in a given area because many middle-priced homes are not on the market,” Yun clarified.

Condo Market
In the condo sector, metro-area condominium and cooperative prices – covering changes in 57 metro areas – showed the national median existing-condo price was $176,900 in the second quarter, down 19.8 percent from the second quarter of 2008. Four metros showed annual increases in the median condo price and 53 areas had declines.

The metros with condo price increases were:
  • Virginia Beach, Va.
  • Wichita, Kan.
  • Dallas
  • Colorado Springs, Colo.

Metro-area median existing-condo prices in the second quarter ranged from $66,400 in Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev., to $405,700 in San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont. The second most expensive reported condo market was Honolulu at $318,400, followed by Boston-Cambridge-Quincy at $277,400.

Other affordable condo markets include the Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville area of California at $101,200 in the second quarter, and Tucson, Ariz., at $102,500.

Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast jumped 15.0 percent in the second quarter to a pace of 797,000 units but are 8.4 percent below a year ago.

The median existing single-family home price in the Northeast declined 9.7 percent to $246,000 in the second quarter from the same quarter in 2008. After Elmira, N.Y., the best gain in the region was in Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y., where the median price of $115,400 rose 6.7 percent from the second quarter of 2008, followed by Syracuse, N.Y., at $124,600, up 0.8 percent.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales rose 3.2 percent in the second quarter to a pace of 1.06 million but are 5.3 percent below a year ago.

The median existing single-family home price in the Midwest was down 8.6 percent to $146,800 in the second quarter from the same period in 2008. After Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, the next strongest metro price increase in the region was in Bismarck, N.D., where the median price of $157,800 was 3.5 percent higher than a year ago, followed by Springfield, Ill., at $116,200, also up 3.5 percent, and Topeka, Kan., at $113,300, up 2.7 percent.

In the South, existing-home sales increased 3.9 percent in the second quarter to an annual rate of 1.76 million but are 7.2 percent lower than the second quarter of 2008.

The median existing single-family home price in the South was $158,600 in the second quarter, down 10.3 percent from a year earlier. After the Cumberland region of Maryland and West Virginia, the strongest price increase in the region was in Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas, with an 11.0 percent gain to $138,600, followed by, Jackson, Miss., at $140,100, up 8.2 percent, and Shreveport-Bossier City, La., at $146,800, up 3.0 percent.

Existing-home sales in the West declined 2.3 percent in the second quarter to an annual rate of 1.13 million but are 11.8 percent above a year ago.

The median existing single-family home price in the West was $212,600 in the second quarter, which is 26.6 percent below the second quarter of 2008. The best metro price performances in the West were in Kennewick-Richland-Pasco area of Washington, where the median price of $163,900 rose 0.3 percent from a year earlier, and Yakima, Wash., at $162,800, also up 0.3 percent. No other areas covered in the region reported increases.

Source: NAR

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Wednesday, August 12 2009

The University of Evansville today announced its support of the new Downtown arena project.

UE issued the following news release today:

After reviewing the data collected and recommendation advanced by the Roberts Stadium Advisory Board, officials at UE – whose Purple Aces men’s and women’s basketball teams have played home games at Roberts Stadium for decades – determined that the new stadium provides the best direction for both for UE, and for the city of Evansville.

“We believe a new arena will have a very positive impact on recruiting and on the fan experience for Purple Aces basketball, allowing people to make Downtown the destination for a game,” said UE President Stephen Jennings. “The plans for this new arena paint the picture of a beautiful, state-of-the-art facility that will create an exciting experience for Aces fans; and with the new hotel and additional development, we believe there will be numerous options for our fans both before and after games.”

University officials also have explored the parking situation – an issue that some Purple Aces supporters have cited as a concern – and are satisfied with the city’s assurance that parking will be sufficient.

“Based on the plans we have seen and the assurances we have received from the city,” Jennings said, “our fans will be able to park nearly as close to this new facility as they can to the current Roberts Stadium.”

John Stanley, UE’s director of athletics, currently is working with the city on that and other issues surrounding the new arena, helping to ensure that the facility provides a positive experience for Aces fans by serving as part of the Evansville Arena Advisory Board.

The University has had preliminary discussions with the city regarding the cost of leasing the new arena for Purple Aces games. It is important that we be able to play in the new arena without significant additional cost to our program. Because the capital cost of the project is covered through various existing revenue streams, the lease will only need to cover the overall operating costs for the arena. While exact costs cannot be determined until the design is complete, we have been assured that the cost structure will be similar to our current agreement with Roberts Stadium.


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Wednesday, August 12 2009

Leaders in southwest Indiana are using a new study to determine the region's economic potential in the energy sector. The report commissioned by the Project GREEN initiative finds the nine county region has a competitive advantage in coal-related industries and also has the assets to become a manufacturer and supplier for the wind energy sector. Greyhill Advisors compiled the report.

Evansville, Ind. -- Consulting partners Greyhill Advisors presented the results of their Southwestern Indiana energy cluster assessment and gap analysis for Project GREEN at a press conference Tues., Aug. 11, at Innovation Pointe.

The Project GREEN initiative seeks to identify opportunities for Southwestern Indiana to become a major resource in the nation’s quest for energy independence while creating economic growth for the region.

“By unifying and working together, the counties of Region 11, consisting of Dubois, Gibson, Knox, Perry, Pike, Posey, Spencer, Vanderburgh, and Warrick, will collectively assert true energy leadership,” says Christine Prior, planning manager for Grow Southwest Indiana Workforce (WIRED).

At the press conference, consultants from Greyhill Advisors outlined the present state of the energy industry in Southwestern Indiana.

After an extensive energy cluster assessment across a variety of niche sectors, the management team found the Region has a pronounced competitive advantage in coal and clean coal related industries, but the Region, the consultants advise, must weigh such investments against political and environmental risks posed by coal.

While another energy sector, wind energy, currently has a limited presence in Region 11, the Region demonstrates significant expertise in industries related to manufacturing wind turbines and their components. Nuclear power is poised for a series of new investments, and with the presence of Babcock & Wilcox in Mount Vernon, Ind., a plant which fabricates commercial nuclear components, there is potential for significant manufacturing activity and increased job growth in the Region.

Greyhill Advisors not only outlined Region 11’s key strengths as they pertain to individual energy sectors but also highlighted overachieving assets that will enhance the region’s ability to develop an energy cluster.

“The area has many loosely aligned yet significant assets to support continued growth in the energy sector,” says Ben Loftsgaarden of Greyhill Advisors. “However, the region needs to do a better job of telling its story. A stronger communications effort is needed to accurately promote the growth potential in energy for Southwestern Indiana.”

The announcement comes on the heels of a presentation from Paul Mitchell, president and CEO of Energy Systems Network, who spoke last week at the Downtown offices of Innovation Pointe to Southwestern Indiana energy leaders. He shared how his organization, based in Central Indiana, acts as a catalyst for Hoosier energy companies to collaborate and bring energy breakthroughs to the market using Indiana’s existing resources and businesses. He implored Region 11 leaders to follow suit.

Key Assets Cited:
-- Responsive and respected educational and workforce development community.
-- Manufacturing base and core competencies.
-- Geographic location and logistics and distribution capabilities.
-- Core competencies in traditional energy sectors such as utility providers, power generation plants, transmission infrastructure, and undisputed strength in coal mining and production.
-- The presence of Toyota Manufacturing is a testament to the region’s workforce, manufacturing capacity and business climate.

Key Challenges Cited:
-- Limited cluster presence in many renewable energy sectors such as wind, solar, biomass, and nuclear production.
-- Limited industry targeting and coordination throughout Region 11. However, through the formation of Project GREEN, the team will work to effectively promote and position their assets for
specific industry development.
-- The positive developments and assets in Southwestern Indiana are not promoted as much as they could be. Project GREEN seeks to spotlight the Region’s strengths for future energy growth.
-- Difficulty in recruiting and retaining young workers in Southwestern Indiana.
-- Poor transportation connections to northern part of state.

Today’s press conference marks the culmination of the first and second phases of the Project GREEN Initiative. The next phase, the development of a strategic action plan for developing an energy
cluster in Southwestern Indiana, will be followed by four months of implementation. Greyhill Advisors and the Project GREEN team will release the implementation strategies in October 2009.

Source: Southwest Indiana WIRED

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Wednesday, August 12 2009

Even a basic low-voltage lighting adds value for homeowners and profits for builders

Attractive, well-placed lighting makes decks safer as well as more inviting. Many deck-lighting selections aren’t complicated to wire, notably energy-efficient low-voltage systems, so there’s little or no reason why builders should not add lighting to their repertoire.

Most deck and landscape lighting systems run on 12-volt current, not the 120-volt line current that household lighting fixtures typically use. (For a detailed overview of wiring, see “Wiring for Low-Voltage Lighting” in the March/April 2008 issue of Professional Deck Builder, free at

Low-voltage systems are safer, with a much lower potential for electrical shock (some installers would say no potential). It’s relatively easy to add new fixtures to an existing system, and in most jurisdictions the installer does not need an electrician’s license. Light output isn’t as robust as it is with a 120-volt system, but then, electrical consumption is lower.

Solar-powered fixtures are another option (Figure 2). Their big advantage is convenience: Mount them on the rail or post and let sunlight do the rest. Solar cells recharge AA batteries inside the fixture, which power the light at night. There’s no wiring to worry about.

But solar deck lights have some disadvantages, too. The batteries have to be replaced after about 500 charge cycles or 18 months of operation. Meanwhile, solar fixtures don’t throw as much light as low-voltage fixtures, and stretches of stormy weather make that problem worse.

Steve Hodes Jr. got into the light-fixture business several years ago after watching a hailstorm demolish some copper deck lights he’d just purchased. The experience prompted him to start making his own line of sturdy metal light fixtures — including some with solar panels — that he sells through his Kansas City–based business, Moonlight Decks.

Even if the housing is well made, Hodes says, the solar cells are guaranteed by his supplier for only one year, and the rechargeable batteries, which will have to be replaced periodically, are about $3 each.

“I usually tend to steer people to low voltage if they’re willing to do the installation,” he says. “It’s going to take a little more effort to get those low-voltage ones in there, but in the end it’s going to be less of a hassle.”

Jason Paulk, a landscape-lighting contractor who owns Nite Time Decor in Atlanta, also encourages customers to look at low-voltage systems despite the convenience of solar-powered fixtures.

“I highly discourage using solar lighting for any application at all where you want functional output,” he says. “I would say of the systems that we come in to repair or replace or evaluate, probably 75 percent have some component of solar lighting, and every consumer I’ve dealt with is unhappy and wants to have them changed.”

Subhead: Transformers are the Heart
The heart of a low-voltage deck-lighting installation is a transformer, a device that steps 120-volt current down to 12 volts and distributes the power either to individual fixtures or to hubs that supply groups of fixtures. Transformers are rated by the maximum amount of electricity they can nominally carry.

Voltage drops as the distance to the fixture increases. When it falls too far, light output is noticeably compromised. To compensate, use a transformer equipped with “taps” for different voltages. Output from a multi-tap transformer might range from 12 volts up to 22 volts; the installer selects the appropriate tap for the number of fixtures and the length of the run.

Unique Lighting Systems, which makes transformers as well as light fixtures for decks, advocates a hub wiring plan to minimize voltage drop (Figure 3). The transformer powers a hub that feeds electricity to individual fixtures, which are more than 25 feet away.

Kyle Trotter, the company’s national sales manager, says choosing the right tap is important for performance. For incandescent halogen bulbs, for example, voltage should be no less than 90 percent of the bulb’s rated capacity, or 10.8 volts for a 12-volt lamp. Checking the hub with a multi-meter while the lights are on should show whether the tap selected at the transformer is the right one.

Unique Lighting is developing a 24-volt transformer for landscape and deck lighting systems that Trotter says will power twice as many lamps on the same circuit because of lower amperage, with less voltage drop between fixtures.

Paulk compares the hub approach to a zoned irrigation system. By grouping sets of fixtures and feeding each hub separately, fixtures are guaranteed to get the right amount of power, whether they are 5 feet or 100 feet away from the transformer.

Good-quality transformers have an internal fuse that can be replaced and sturdy lug-style electrical connections. These features make high-end transformers considerably more expensive than economy brands ($350 to $400 vs. $80 for a 300-watt transformer), but installers say the improved reliability and performance make the higher price a bargain.

Lights for deck fixtures are typically halogen or xenon lamps, which are both incandescent. Xenon bulbs aren’t as bright as halogens, but they can last up to 20,000 hours and, unlike halogens, can be handled with bare hands without shortening bulb life. They don’t produce as much heat as halogens, and the color temperature of the light is a little warmer (although still cooler than a standard incandescent bulb). Xenon lamps also are less likely to discolor plastic lenses in light fixtures.

But the future will probably be lit by light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, which last far longer and use less electricity than incandescent lamps (Figure 4). A LED may last 50,000 hours before the light falls gradually below an acceptable level; the most efficient white LEDs produce about the same lumens per watt of electricity as compact fluorescents.
LEDs’ significantly higher cost, lower light output, and off-putting blueish color have been obstacles to wide acceptance. “There are people pushing these LEDs,” Paulk says, “but from what people are used to seeing on landscape lighting, if you were to take them to an all-LED job, people are going to say, ‘Wow, that’s not what I was expecting.’”

That, however, is changing. For example, Kichler Lighting offers LED fixtures, including lights for deck posts and steps, that the company says use about 75 percent less power than incandescent bulbs with similar light output. And the color temperature of the LED-generated light is about 2,800 degrees Kelvin, slightly warmer than a halogen lamp.

Highpoint Deck Lighting also sells a wedge-base replacement LED that draws only about 3/4 watt, compared with the 5-watt to 7-watt incandescent lamps it can replace (Figure 5).

Good looks and energy efficiency make a difference with consumers, but lower costs would give this technology another boost.

Controls are often overlooked when considering outdoor lighting. Typically, individual lights aren’t switched — entire circuits are. Of course there are exceptions, such as task lighting at a grill or standalone solar-powered lighting. How you control lighting depends on the purpose of the lighting. For example, a customer might prefer that safety lighting at a stair come on whenever it’s dark. Such circuits can be controlled with a photosensor that switches on and off at dusk and dawn.

One approach to varying the level of light is to set up several lighting circuits. You can maintain symmetry by alternating the lights on railing posts so every other one is on a different circuit. When the clients want more light, they turn on both. For a romantic mood, maybe just one circuit is all that’s called for.

Putting accent lighting on its own circuit is another good plan, as there may be times when it’s nice to view an artfully lit Japanese maple, for example, without the rest of the deck lighting on.

The increasing variety of lighting may be encouraging more deck builders to give installation a try. After finding that over half its best contractor customers were already installing deck lights, TimberTech last year launched a line of low-voltage deck lights for post caps, stair risers, balusters, and post sides to complement its decking and railing. Some are intended for use only with the company’s products, but others can be used with all brands of decking and railing.

“Lighting is an essential part of the decking category,” says Paul Bizzarri, TimberTech’s vice president for innovation, noting that lighting adds value for the customer because the deck is more attractive and more useful.

Installing deck lighting has the potential for high hourly earnings, says Davis, who started Highpoint Deck Lighting a few years ago as a sideline to his deck-building company. He notes that crews already are on site and don’t need additional permits to do the work. “It’s the most profitable part of the job,” he says.

Scott Gibson is a writer in East Waterboro, Maine.


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Tuesday, August 11 2009

EVANSVILLE - National reports are showing more Americans are trying to buy homes. The National Association of Realtors says the increase has been running for five months, bringing a boost to the national housing market.

With incentives to buy, local realtors say the demand is growing, bringing out not only more buyers but also sellers.

Completing 10 home sales in July alone, ERA First Advantage Realtor Annabelle Ismail says the local housing market is shaping up proving national trends are holding true. "That's really good for this year."

Ismail says The National Association of Realtors shows pending home sales were up in June at a rate of 3.6 percent.

"There are a lot of incentives out there right now for all buyers, especially first time home buyers," Ismail said.

Ismail says houses ranging in the $125,000 to the $130,000 range are in high demand, but with incentives for first time home buyer up November 30th, time is ticking for some.

"There's more of an urgency right now to buy," Ismail said.

Chris Dickson, Secretary and Treasurer of the Evansville Area Association of Realtors, says the market has really warmed up, and the numbers prove it.

Dickson says from year to year in Vanderburgh County the housing market is seeing a definite upswing.

When comparing 2008 and 2009 second quarter numbers, total units sold is up by 4.2 percent, total sale price of a home is up 10 percent and totals sales volume is up 14 percent, according to the Evansville Area Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service.

"Now that demand is coming forward, we have a lot of buyers and a lot of sellers getting back on the market," Dickson said.

Dickson says even though property values are up by 14%, things like incentives and lower home loan rates are bringing the buyers out.

"Home buying is a driver for the economy and so this should bode well," Dickson said.

Buyers interested in cashing in on first time home buyer's tax credit should have a contract together by mid-October. Dickson says that will give buyers plenty of time to close before the November 30, 2009 deadline.


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Tuesday, August 11 2009

The down economy hasn't affected tourism at a popular southern Indiana amusement park. Holiday World & Splashin' Safari President and Chief Executive Officer Will Koch believes the increase has been triggered by families staying closer to home for entertainment and vacation during the recession. He does say there has a drop in the number of company events at the park. Koch adds the park is also preparing for a major announcement later this week.

The new project will be a $5.5 million investment.

Pilgrim's Plunge opened in the spring. Koch believes the world's tallest water ride made a big difference in drawing crowds to the park.

August 16 will be last day for daily operations at Holiday World. After that, the park will only be on open on the weekends through Labor Day. Koch notes Holiday World will be closed September 12 and 13, but after that it will stay on its weekend schedule through October 11.

Source: Inside INdiana Business


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Tuesday, August 11 2009

Lowered energy costs key to breaking perception of green homes as a luxury.

Most Americans are willing to pay extra for a home with eco-friendly features, according to a new national survey by the Shelton Group.

Released last week, the 2009 Eco Pulse report found nearly two-thirds of consumers would be willing to pay a 10% or higher premium for a home with a number of green features. Nine percent were willing to pay 30% more.

“While consumers might not always be clear on what features should be included in a green home, what is clear is that consumers are increasingly aware--but not 100% convinced--that green can be associated with saving money,” said Suzanne Shelton, founder of the Knoxville, Tenn.-based Shelton Group. “In today’s economic climate, home builders can really benefit from marketing the money-saving aspects of their homes, as commercial builders have done for years.”

While 53% of respondents were able to name at least one green home feature unaided, the item they named most often is also the most expensive: solar capability. “This contributes to the consumer perception that green homes cost more and are a luxury,” says Shelton.

Consumers have high standards when it comes to eco-friendly housing. When asked to pick three features from a list of 17 possible features required for a green home, 33% said all of them would be required, an all-or-nothing mentality that also contributes to the perception that high-performance homes are luxury homes. “We need to do more to explain how green features can actually save homeowners money,” Shelton notes.

The green features chosen most often were:
--Renewable electric power generation systems such as solar, geothermal, or wind (25%).
--Higher-efficiency appliances like those certified by Energy Star (25 %).
--Water-conserving features including low-flow showerheads and rainwater collection systems (21 %).

Learn more about the survey at

Jennifer Goodman is Senior Editor Online for EcoHome magazine.


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Monday, August 10 2009


Back to school is just around the corner but there is still plenty of summer left to enjoy. Make the most of your outdoor spaces!
If you have any family, friends, or loved ones this month looking to buy or sell a home, please give them my name!

Create a Fun and Budget-Friendly Outdoor Room
Sitting Area - When creating an outdoor room, think comfort. For upholstered furniture, use outdoor fabrics and synthetic fill. All-weather curtains cast welcome shade from the sun.
Kitchen Area - Avoid the price tag of built-in cabinetry for cooking and dining utensils by using watertight, airtight plastic storage bins that tuck under the counter. Conceal a storage area or a garbage can with a      pretty fabric curtain attached with hook-and-loop tape. Also, use stainless-steel fixtures, which don't expand and contract with weather changes.
Sink Station - An outdoor sink is easy to install. Unless you plan to wash dishes, you need only a cold-water connection. This sink is fed by a garden hose (or you can connect directly to the house's water supply) and drains in a bucket. The gray water is then used for the surrounding plants.
Grilling Station - When space allows, add a countertop or island next to the grill to make food prep and service easier. A peninsula works well in this outdoor kitchen. It provides additional seating for outdoor dining that's close enough for the cook to chat with guests, but it keeps people away from a hot grill.
Source: Good Housekeeping
Cut Your Energy Costs - Simple tips for saving resources, money and  the planet.
Cool your home naturally: Open windows on cool summer nights. Use energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs (they emit less heat). Hang washing out to dry, and grill food outside. Install window awnings. Plant deciduous trees on the east and west to shade your house and cool it by as much as 20 degrees.
Install an Energy Star–certified ceiling fan (50 percent more efficient than others) and comfortably keep your home four degrees cooler in the summer.
Consider switching to a natural-gas water heater (which uses less than half the energy of an electric one) and turn the setting down to 120 degrees.
Seal your house: Close the fireplace damper; install a timer (available at hardware stores) on the bathroom exhaust fan; seal ductwork.
Potential savings: About $500 a year.
Green point: If one household in 10 bought Energy Star–rated heating and cooling equipment, the change in greenhouse-gas emissions would be equivalent to taking 1.5 million cars off the road.
Source: Real Simple
August Quote
Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.
     ~ Sam Keen
The Free Lunch Lives! Where to Find Hidden Handouts.
Believe it or not, there are plenty of places where people can eat, drink, play and find treasures without paying a dime. Check out some of these great deals.
Free Kids Meals Year-Round - If you play your cards right, you could eat out almost every day of the week and not spend a dime on your kids’ food. Kids can eat free at many Denny’s restaurants on Tuesday and Saturday nights and at many Perkins and IHOP restaurants on multiple nights of the week. For a list of Kids Eat Free Restaurants, check out
Free Grub on Your Birthday - Free birthday burgers at Red Robin. Free birthday spaghetti entrees and desserts at Spaghetti Warehouse. Free birthday desserts at Applebee’s and Romano’s Macaroni Grill. Free birthday ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery and Baskin-Robbins.
Free Admission - Most museums offer free admission one day of the week or month. Many art galleries also offer free receptions that feature wine, cheese & other snacks. Also, don’t forget the power of the Internet. A quick online search for the name of your city along with the words "free activities" can do wonders.
Free Tastes - Warehouse clubs, such as Costco and Sam’s Club, offer oodles of free food samples as you roll your cart up and down the aisles. Time it right and you can score the equivalent of a full meal. Trader Joe’s and other specialty grocery stores also offer exceptionally yummy free samples. Eat up!
Ice Cream Sandwich with Strawberries
3 prepared round ice cream sandwiches
1/2 cup chopped California Almonds, chopped finely
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup prepared chocolate sauce 
Allow ice cream sandwiches to soften slightly, about 3 minutes.
Place almonds in a shallow bowl and roll ice cream sandwiches in almonds, so almonds stick well to the sides.
Stack sandwiches onto a dinner plate. Top with any remaining almonds and scatter strawberries on bottom of plate and atop stacked ice cream sandwiches. Drizzle with chocolate sauce.
Warranty Wisdom
Home service agreements, for resale properties, are often used as a negotiating tool in competitive real estate situations. They are not a substitute for a professional home inspection, but sellers find them helpful in attracting buyers. Buyers find that home service agreements, which can be renewed, where allowed by law, after the first year can save them money in the cash-tight early days of owning a home. Ask me about a HomeTrust Warranty® home service agreement today!
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Monday, August 10 2009
You hear the bad news everywhere you turn. It’s on the television, the Internet, the radio
and in print headlines. What you don’t hear is the good news about the real estate market.
Bad news sells newspapers and gets high television ratings; therefore, the media has no reason
to report the upside of today’s real estate market to the average American. This is where I
come in. For example, did you know that approximately 30 percent of homeowners own
their home free and clear?
The current market also affords some great opportunities for those looking to purchase a
home. First-time homeowners, move-up buyers and investors can all benefit from low home prices, large selection and historically low interest rates.
In addition, the government recently approved a First Time Buyer Tax Credit, up to
$8000, that does not require repayment if the borrower resides in and maintains ownership
of the property for at least three years. Regulations do apply and can be reviewed at, or just give me a call and Iwill be happy to discuss
it with you.
Call me at 812-499-9234 to hear more about the good news in today’s housing market.

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Monday, August 10 2009

Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden in Evansville has experienced record attendance thanks to the $13 million Amazonia rain forest exhibit. The zoo says 215,208 visitors have passed through its gates since the exhibit opened last August. That's an increase of 83,000 visitors compared to the previous 12 months.

Amazonia Helping Break Zoo Records

It's been a very big year for AMAZONIA at Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden. Since AMAZONIA opened on August 4, 2008, 215,208 visitors have passed through the Zoo gates. That's nearly 83,000 visitors more than the Zoo had the during the previous 12-month period (August 2007- August 2008: 132,240), an increase of 61%.

"We had great hopes for AMAZONIA when it opened one year ago and the public response has been overwhelming. This exhibit has created a new excitement around Mesker Park Zoo for staff and visitors alike. Along with the recent unveiling of the renovated Nocturnal exhibit, we hope to continue to see great things happening at the Zoo," said Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel.

All-time attendance records were broken in all but three months during AMAZONIA's first year (September 2008, January and February 2009). The total number of visitors to the Zoo in calendar year 2008 was 180,857 compared to 140,019 in 2007. Attendance thus far in 2009 is on a record pace, with more than 129,000 visitors already through the end of July.

AMAZONIA has also boosted revenue at the Zoo. In 2007, zoo revenue was $799,061 compared to $1,206,645 in 2008, an increase of 66%. Revenue is already at $983,132 through July of 2009.

Attendance at AMAZONIA has also helped the cause of conservation. More than $3,300 has been raised so far by visitors putting coins into the talking tapir, jaguar and toucan heads in the exhibit. Hundreds of Zoo visitors have learned about conservation during educational programs that have taken place at AMAZONIA since it opened. In honor of the exhibit’s anniversary, Zoo staff has scheduled an educational program for 1:00 p.m. each day through August 31st at AMAZONIA. Today’s program is Tapir Talk; others include fish feeding, bat chat and the plants of AMAZONIA just to name a few.

Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden is open 365 days a year from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p..m.; the entry gate closes at 4:00 p.m. Admission for adults is $8.50 and $7.50 for children ages 3-12. Children under 3 are free. In recognition of their support, Vanderburgh County residents receive a $1 discount. Please visit for information regarding yearly memberships or other Zoo services.

Source: Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden & Inside INdiana Business

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 07:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, August 09 2009

For the first time in more than two years, local Realtors are optimistic about Southern Indiana’s housing market, and with good reason, according to Suzann Slayton, president and CEO of Southern Indiana Realtors Association.

“The market is up. Agents are busy. During the week they’re writing multiple offers whereas before — one and a half, two years ago — they weren’t writing any offers during the week,” Slayton said.

“The second quarter is really encouraging. Our sales are up about 35 percent [from the first quarter of this year].” From Jan. 1 to April 15, SIRA recorded 549 sales, compared to 845 sales from April 15 through July 19.

Despite those encouraging statistics, the number of homes sold and the average sales price remains lower than they’ve been since 2002, according to information provided by the Southern Indiana Realtors Association, which represents Floyd, Clark, Harrison, Perry, Scott, Crawford and Washington counties.

In New Albany, the number of homes sold from January to May was down 2 percent from the same period in 2008, and down about 30 percent from that period in 2007. Elsewhere in Floyd County, home sales for that period decreased about 1 percent from last year and 18 percent from 2007.

In Jeffersonville, the number of homes sold from January to May decreased 18 percent compared to the same period last year, and 47 percent during that period in 2007. The rest of Clark County saw a 1.5 percent decrease in homes sold from January to May of this year versus January to May of 2008, and a 29 percent decrease from the same period in 2007.

The average sales price continued to decline as well, down to $126,400 for January-June from $134,400 for the January-June period a year earlier.

“What’s holding prices down are the foreclosures working through the market. Foreclosures are generally [in the] $100,000” price range, according to Slayton, and when those numbers are figured in they lower the overall average price figures.

The area is seeing fewer foreclosures though, following a trend that’s tracking across the state and country. Indiana foreclosures were down almost 18 percent in the first quarter of 2009 compared to the first quarter of 2008, according to RealtyTrac, which tracks foreclosures around the country. Indiana is currently ranked No. 14 in the country in the number of foreclosures.

Homes in the $120,000 to $180,000 range are leading the marketplace in sales, according to Slayton.

“A lot of properties, if they are in good condition, are selling at list price or very close to list price,” Slayton said.

Anecdotal evidence like that — as well as the fact that local foreclosures and unemployment rates are down, coupled with the burst in second-quarter home sales — lead Slayton to believe the housing market is beginning to turn around.

“I gauge [the strength of the market] on talking to people in the field. They have a different demeanor now — they’re not talking about getting out of the business anymore. They’re upbeat.”

Area Realtor Steve Elmore, of The Elmore Group, gave a similar optimistic report to Realty Times in July.

“The Southern Indiana market is very stable compared to other parts of the state and country. Buyers are out and looking to buy,” Elmore said.

Slayton said the $8,000 first-time homeowner tax credit being offered by the federal government is “what’s really fueled” the recent increase in home sales and she expects it to continue increasing sales through the fall. The tax credit, which expires Dec. 1, offers first-time homebuyers a tax credit for 10 percent of the home’s purchase price, up to $8,000.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist with the National Association of Realtors, added, “It should take a few months for the market to gain momentum, but this increase could be the leading edge of first-time buyers responding to very favorable affordability conditions and an $8,000 tax credit.”

The tax credit, along with historically low interest rates and an abundance of inventory, has encouraged people who were waiting to buy homes to make their move, Slayton and Yun agreed.

Still, Yun noted, “We need several months of sustained growth to demonstrate a recovery in housing, which is necessary for the overall economy to turn around.”

Slayton said she expects the market to be strong through the fall, and then level off as it usually does in the winter months. After that, “it all depends on the overall economy. Unemployment is down, people are more confident in the stock market — I think things are looking great for the market.”

“I think right now, as we talk, the market is as hot as it’s been. An agent told me yesterday, ‘I’ve written three offers since Monday.’ Three offers from Monday to Thursday, that’s like the heyday,” Slayton said


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Sunday, August 09 2009

The Chamber of Commerce of Southwest Indiana and the 2009 ATHENA Award Committee announced the 11 ATHENA finalists on Tuesday, August 4 at The Chamber of Commerce on the fourth floor of Innovation Pointe. They are as follows:

· Nancy Bizal, Instructor of Business Communication & Coordinator of External Relations for the University of Southern Indiana College of Business

· Barb Butler, Chief Executive Officer for HealthSouth Deaconess Rehabilitation Hospital

· Janie Chappell, Manager of Community Services & Business Development for Deaconness Cross Pointe

· Nadine Coudret, Interim Provost & Vice President of Academic Affairs at the University of Southern Indiana

· Carrie Ellsperman, President for Wealth Management at Old National Bank

· Susan Hardwick, Vice President, Controller & Assistant Treasurer for Vectren Corporation

· Holly Dunn Pendleton, Executive Director for Holly’s House, Inc.

· Karen Ragland, Teacher at Joshua Academy and also a member of the Evansville-Vanderburgh School Board

· Maura Robinson, President, Owner & Founder of MG Robinson, Inc.

· Lisa Seif, Director, Warrick County Drunk Driving & Drug Court Program and the Substance Abuse Services

· Ann Whitty, Vice President & General Manager of the Rigid Packaging Division for Alcoa Inc.

The 2009 ATHENA Award recipient will be announced at the ATHENA Award Luncheon that will take place on Thursday, October 22 at noon at The Centre. The ATHENA Award program promotes women’s leadership and honors outstanding leaders. By recognizing exceptional individuals, the award program seeks to inspire others to achieve excellence. The ATHENA Award presentation is a celebration of excellence and a premiere community event.


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Saturday, August 08 2009
 The University of Evansville's civil engineering program has been named recipient of the American Society of Civil Engineers' Walter LeFevre Award for 2009.

The award is given each year to the nation's top large civil engineering program and also to the nation's top small civil engineering program.

It was created in 2008 to recognize accredited civil engineering programs "that promote professional licensure, ethics and professionalism."

UE earned the 2009 award for the top small program, beating out last year's winner, the University of Idaho, and last year's runner-up, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

UE's civil engineering graduates in 2008 helped the university win the award by achieving a 100 percent passing rate on a national engineering fundamentals exam, said Brian Swenty, chair of UE's Mechanical and Civil Engineering Department.

"Without their amazing accomplishment, the university would not have won this award," Swenty said.

UE's curriculum requires students to take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam. Civil Engineering students also are encouraged to spend a semester studying abroad.

UE will receive the award at an October conference in Kansas City, Mo.

— John Martin


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Friday, August 07 2009

Here we have the information on the Evansville Home & Garden Show.

August 7-9. The Centre, 715 Locust St. Learn about the latest trends by browsing nearly 300 displays of home furnishings, accessories, remodeling ideas, and more.

This year’s show features a “Smart Home” section, which includes environmentally friendly options for homes. 3-9 p.m. Fri., 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun. Free.

(800) 876-8063 or

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Friday, August 07 2009

As far as Jerry Hopp is concerned, Grand Prix unlimited hydroplanes will bring the thunder back to Thunder on the Ohio on Aug. 21-23.

"We are supercharged 468 ccs, and we'll bring all kinds of noise," said Hopp, Graham Trucking's Grand Prix driver and a former unlimited driver.

The American Boat Racing Association announced Wednesday that the Grand Prix boats will complement the larger unlimiteds.

"Our top speeds are 160 to 165 mph," Hopp said. "We'll bring seven boats to Evansville and run on a 12/3-mile course. Our boats are 24 to 26 feet long and generate 1,300 horsepower. Most Most are Chevy motors." By comparison, unlimiteds are 28-foot, 6,800-pound crafts that run primarily T-55, L7C jet turbine military helicopter engines and can reach speeds of 200 mph on the straightaways.

For years, unlimited hydroplane fans have bemoaned the absence of thunder at Thunder, with the exception of Posey County resident Ed Cooper Jr.'s piston-powered U-3 Master Tire. Jimmy King drove Cooper's U-3 to a second-place finish Sunday at Seattle's Seafair.

"I think the unlimiteds are the fastest, biggest, meanest things on water," Hopp said.

"But the turbines don't make the noise the (old piston-powered) Allisons and Merlins made. I think that has been missed. When the Grand Prix boats stand next to each other, four or five deep, you can feel the power. The noise will knock you over."

Sam Cole, American Boat Racing Association chairman, said 11 unlimiteds are expected to compete at the 31st annual Thunder, the final unlimited race of the season before the boats are shipped to Doha, Qatar, for the world championship Nov. 12-14.

In addition to the Rib America Festival, the Evansville Road Knights classic car show and the boats, two concerts are planned for Thunder weekend at Sunset Park.

The Thunder on the Ohio Concert Bowl will open at 5 p.m. on Aug. 21. Jason Clutter and the Dirty South Band will perform at 7, with the Marshall Tucker Band to follow at 8:15. New addition Tara McCormick will open the Aug. 22 concert at 6 p.m., followed by Jack Ingram at 7 and Travis Tritt at 8:30.

For information, log on to Tickets for Thunder, which give holders admission to all events, are $15 in advance and $20 at the gate. Advance tickets are available at area banks and grocery stores.

Thunder on the Ohio Inc. consultant Ken Deans was not certain how many tickets have been sold.

"The initial interest has been very positive," Deans said.


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Friday, August 07 2009

— It wasn't quite the same as sitting in the Hofbrauhaus, the famous beer hall in Munich.

But eating at the tent set up for Germania Maennerchor's Volksfest on Thursday was about as close as a Tri-State resident could come without getting on a plane. By noon of the first day of the annual festival, a solid number of people had ventured out to enjoy the food, beer, music and camaraderie.

Scott Lantaff was fortunate to have the day off from his job at SABIC-Innovative Plastics in Mount Vernon, Ind. Lunchtime found him at the Volksfest.

RIGHT: Jeff Westfall of Evansville smiles after singing "Ein Prosit" with a stein full of beer in hand at the opening of the annual Volksfest.

RIGHT: Jeff Westfall of Evansville smiles after singing "Ein Prosit" with a stein full of beer in hand at the opening of the annual Volksfest.

Lantaff said he comes to the event as often as he can.

"Every once in a while, it's nice to get some good German food," he said.

Another draw was good weather. Temperatures in the 80s made for another beautiful day in a summer distinguished for its mildness.

Yet organizers doubted the usual heat would remain absent for the rest of the event. According to the National Weather Service, thermometers were to register in the 90s by Saturday. Still, at least 11,000 people were expected to attend the Volksfest.

Germania Maennerchor, a social and singing club, has held the festival in many of the 109 years of its existence. The biggest exception came between the late 1930s and early 1960s, when patriotic feelings stirred by World War II turned public opinion against anything smacking of German culture.

Earl Young, the chairman of the Volksfest, said this year's event features many of the attractions popular in the past — polka bands and a "kinderfest" for children, among others.

There was a special ceremony in honor veterans Thursday night. Members of a group gathered in Evansville for LST Week were expected to attend.

Mike Forcum, the vice president of Germania Maennerchor, said their attendance is significant because the LST was used in World War II. Many of the veterans in town fought in that war and still might bear hard feelings toward Germany.

For others, the night was not so much an opportunity to bury historical animosity, but an excuse to go out and have fun. Young described the festival as "the biggest reunion in town."

For Ann Austin and her husband, Larry, Thursday was their first visit to the Volksfest, even though they have lived in Evansville since 1961. Not surprisingly, the bratwurst and potatoes met their approval.

Also attractive was the architecture of the Maenner-chor's building on Fulton Avenue.

"We were just commenting that everything looks antique," Austin said. "They were telling us that a lot of it is original."


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Friday, August 07 2009

I continue to see improvement in the housing market on both a national and local basis.  The national pending home index (a forward looking indicator based on signed contracts) increased for the fifth consecutive month in June.  This is the first time this has happened since July of 2003.  

Locally sales have been very consistent for the past three months averaging just under 400 closed transactions per month.  Keep in mind our multiple listing service only had 197 closed transactions in January, so one can see how much the market has improved.  I believe that sales will remain fairly steady for the next several months.  Even though sales have doubled since January we have not significantly increased the number of homes currently listed.  

In mid January, our local multiple listing service had 2968 active listings and in mid July the number had only increased 4% to 3080 active listings.  If you are thinking about listing your home buyers are looking.  The market is still stronger for homes listed under $150,000 (partially due to the $8,000 tax credit) but we are seeing signs of improvement in more expensive homes also.

We are constantly looking for ways to improve our web site and just recently enhanced our Property Compare function.  Now you can compare as many homes as you want side by side from practically anywhere on our site.   Go in a give it a try. is also the best place to get detailed information and pictures about open houses. You can also acess all seach functions under our own website at

I’ll send you another update next month after school starts but please call if you have any questions in the meantime.

Please feel free to call me at 812-499-9234 if you have any troubles with signing up at the Tucker or TheTrentininTeam website.

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Friday, August 07 2009

— After the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945, American soldiers had plenty of time — and an island full of debris — on their hands. So, they fashioned a go-kart using parts from wrecked Japanese vehicles and American planes.

Mike Riefer has the pipes-akimbo contraption on display at the Vanderburgh County fairgrounds as part of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association's international convention.

"You could go around the world, and there's probably nothing else like it. The four-wheel drive, the frame and the transmission come courtesy of the Japanese. The wheels are from our side."

There's just one problem. Riefer is too big to drive it.

"Mario Tucci is the GI who supervised the construction on the island and had it shipped to his native Brooklyn," said Riefer, 54, who is from Owensville, Mo.

"His nickname was Midget. You can't be much more than 5 feet tall and be able to squeeze into the seat and reach the pedals."

The association's get-together continues through Saturday.

At 11:30 a.m. today, a convoy of about 100 vehicles will leave the 4-H Center and travel to Evansville's Riverfront.

This afternoon, several amphibious vehicles will make their way to Newburgh's riverfront for a parade and barbecue at the American Legion. The downriver "swim" back to Evansville will begin around 4 p.m.

Riefer says the go-kart can accelerate up to 60 miles per hour.

"I bought it for $2,500 from a man in Colorado and put it in the back of my pickup. The vehicle is really neat. I don't think I'll ever sell."

Scores of military vehicles are on display, many dating back to World War II. The majority are Jeeps, but there also are cargo trucks, ambulances, tanks, motorcycles and dump trucks on the grounds.

Need a stretcher? They're priced to move on these staging grounds at $45. A mess kit goes for $8. So does a grenade pouch. Fifteen bucks gets you an Airborne scarf.

Jim Martz, 61, of Dayton, Ohio, is a member of the association. The vendor sells everything from vehicle parts to helmets. His priciest item is a $1,200 tool trailer that was used in Vietnam.

"My previous hobbies involved street rods, antique cars and off-road racing, but the military equipment is probably the best thing I've ever become involved with," Martz said, noting that he gets a good bit of his inventory from estate sales. "You meet so many good people."

He nods a greeting to an elderly man with military insignia on his cap.

"One reason I like to do this is because it brings me closer to the veterans who served our country. I thank every one I see and give them a pat on the back. It doesn't matter that I don't know their names. I know what they did."

Brice Bushau of Lexington, Ind., has a 1942 Dodge weapons carrier on display, as well as a 1955 Willys Jeep. The 44-year-old man operates copperplating equipment when he isn't going to military association shows.

"I got my first piece of military equipment — a German bayonet — when I was 5 years old," Bushau said.

"I wanted to join the Marines, but I had too many hip problems."

He has eight weapons from World War II, including machine guns, bazookas and a Browning automatic rifle. For heightened realism, he mounts them on top of sandbags.

"Most are dummies — meaning they won't fire — but the Browning can be locked and loaded. These items are getting harder and harder to find and more expensive. You're gonna pay $2,500 for a dummy 50-caliber weapon and as much as $40,000 for one that's fully automatic and fireable.

"Most people don't know very much about military history, and they don't know what it's like to make sacrifices like our soldiers did. Coming out here gives us a chance to share our knowledge."


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Friday, August 07 2009

By Amy Hoak, MarketWatch

CHICAGO (MarketWatch) -- Economic reports that were better than expected kept mortgage rates low this week, Freddie Mac's chief economist said on Thursday.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.22% for the week ending Aug. 6, down from 5.25% last week and 6.52% a year ago, according to Freddie Mac's weekly survey of conforming mortgage rates. Fifteen-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.63%, down from 4.69% last week and 6.10% a year ago.

Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 4.73%, down from 4.75% last week and 6.05% a year ago. And 1-year Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 4.78%, down from 4.80% last week and 5.22% a year ago.

To obtain the rates, the fixed-rate mortgages and the 5-year ARM required payment of an average 0.6 point and the 1-year ARM required an average 0.5 point. A point is 1% of the mortgage amount, charged as prepaid interest.

"Better-than-expected economic reports helped to keep mortgage rates low this week," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, in a news release. "The economy slowed by an annual rate of 1% in the second quarter, which was more positive than market forecasts."

Demand for housing improved as well, he added.

"The first half of this year contained the top six months with the most affordable housing conditions since the National Association of Realtors began calculating its Housing Affordability Index in January 1971. As a result, pending existing home sales rose for five consecutive months ending in June, a trend not seen since July 2003. In June, a typical family would have devoted 15.7% of their gross income to mortgage principal and interest payments, the NAR explained," Nothaft said.

Mortgage applications filed last week were up a seasonally adjusted 4.4% for the week ending July 31, compared with the week before, according to a separate survey from the Mortgage Bankers Association, released earlier this week. See full story.

Amy Hoak is a MarketWatch reporter based in Chicago.


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Friday, August 07 2009
Analysts predicted a 0.5 percent drop in construction spending in June, but they were wrong.

The U.S. Commerce Department said Monday that construction spending rose by a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent annually in June. That’s positive news, despite the fact that overall spending was still down 10.2 percent compared to a year ago.

The increase was driven by federal government spending, which rose 1.9 percent. This offset a 0.5 percent decline in commercial, nonresidential building, including shrinkage in retail and offices.

Source: The Associated Press, Christopher S. Rugaber (08/03/2009)
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Thursday, August 06 2009

The rising Ohio River has caused the cancellation of this weekend’s bierstube and concerts on lower Dress Plaza by Red Eye Max and Stompbox 40.

The events were part of the Bud Light Riverfront Concert Series presented by the Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville.

While those concerts had to be dropped, GAGE officials said the higher river does not affect entertainment planned by Casino Aztar on its outdoor Events Plaza.

Also, the farmer’s market, car cruise-in and Downtown Loft & Condominium Tour from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday will continue as planned.

— Rich Davis


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Thursday, August 06 2009
Pending home sales are up for the fifth consecutive month, the first time in six years for such a streak, according to NAR.

The Pending Home Sales Index,a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in June, rose 3.6 percent to 94.6 from an upwardly revised reading of 91.3 in May, and is 6.7 percent above June 2008 when it was 88.7. The last time there were five consecutive monthly gains was in July 2003.

Lawrence Yun
, NAR chief economist, said a combination of positive market factors is fueling the gains. “Historically low mortgage interest rates, affordable home prices, and large selection are encouraging buyers who’ve been on the sidelines. Activity has been consistently much stronger for lower priced homes,” he said.

“Because it may take as long as two months to close on a home after signing a contract, first-time buyers must act fairly soon to take advantage of the $8,000 tax credit because they must close on the sale by November 30,” Yun said.

Here are the regional figures from the Pending Home Sales Index:
  • The Northeast rose 0.4 percent to 81.2 in June and is 5.8 percent above a year ago.
  • The Midwest increased 0.8 percent to 89.9 and is 11.6 percent above June 2008.
  • The index in the South jumped 7.1 percent to 100.7 in June and is 8.9 percent higher than a year ago.
  • In the West, the index rose 2.9 percent to 100.4 but is 0.2 percent below June 2008.

Source: NAR
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Wednesday, August 05 2009
The 7th Annual Downtown Loft & Condominium Tour is set to showcase stunning finished and unfinished lofts to the public. The one-day event held in August will attract over 3,000 people interested in the free self-guided tours. All registered participants will receive a packet of information on each loft and a map to help guide them along the Downtown area. During the tour, local music and art will be featured in the park on Fourth and Main Street.
Registration is on Main Street at the office of Downtown Evansville, Inc.
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Wednesday, August 05 2009
Toyota Princeton to Hit Milestone This Week
Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana (TMMI) is expected to reach a production landmark on Tuesday. TMMI's Princeton factory will produce its 1 millionth Sienna minivan. The company began making Siennas at the Princeton facility in January 2003.
The 1 millionth Sienna is expected to roll of the production line after 1 p.m. EDT.
Toyota also plans to begin producing the Highlander sport utility vehicle at the Princeton plant in October.
Source: Inside INdiana
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Tuesday, August 04 2009
A day after Jillian's Billiards Club shut its doors for good, officials with Casino Aztar said they are in negotiations on a contract with a new business to fill the property.
Jillian's, a part of the Aztar entertainment district across Riverside Drive from the casino, had been open since September 2006. No advance notice to the public was released before it closed Sunday night.
Stacey McNeill, director of marketing for the casino, said she could not divulge the name of the potential new business but that officials are "working on a fast turnaround" on the project.
She declined to elaborate on why Jillian's shut down.
"There is no one real specific reason why," she said. "We're continuing to look to improve our products and our offerings."
Additional information on the new business could come as early as this afternoon or this week, McNeill said.
She said she was "not at liberty to discuss" the type of business that might move in, but said it was not going to be a Dave & Buster's.
The employees at Jillian's were laid off Sunday, McNeill said, adding that the casino has encouraged them to apply for positions at other Aztar restaurants. They were employed by Jillian's and not by the casino, she said.
Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel said he believes the closing was the result of contractual difficulties between Aztar and Jillian's. He said he has heard another national firm will fill the space.
"I can't imagine it will go vacant for very long," Weinzapfel said.
A message left with a spokesman for Jillian's was not immediately returned this morning.
- Gavin Lesnick
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Tuesday, August 04 2009
Spencer County Commission President Dan Rininger has been appointed chairman of the newly developed District 10 Oversight Committee, which will oversee planning, organizing and managing critical emergency response activities to natural and man-made disasters in 12 Southern Indiana counties — Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Gibson, Knox, Martin, Perry, Pike, Posey, Spencer, Vanderburgh and Warrick.
Vanderburgh County Commission President Troy Tornatta was named as second chairman and Warrick County Commissioner Art Noffsinger as third chairman.
Other committee members are the county commission presidents and the mayors of the largest city in each of the 12 counties.
— John Lucas
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