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Saturday, September 26 2009

Indiana's Business Tax Climate Ranking Improves

Sept. 24, 2009- Indiana's growing national reputation as a great state to do business has received another boost. The state moved up two places in the Tax Foundation's 2010 Business Tax Climate Index for business tax climate. Indiana is 12th overall, up from 14th in 2009, and remains the top state in the Midwest for business tax competitiveness.

The Tax Foundation is a nonpartisan tax research group based in Washington, D.C. 
Rankings for other nearby states include Michigan 17th; Kentucky 20th; Illinois 30th; Wisconsin 42nd; Minnesota 43rd; Iowa 46th; and Ohio 47th. In its seventh year of publication, the report measures five indexes of states' business tax competitiveness including property tax rates, sales tax, individual tax, corporate tax and unemployment insurance taxes.  The Tax Foundation presents the Index annually as a tool for lawmakers, businesses and individuals to gauge how their states' tax systems compare.

"While other states are imposing tax increases to cover budget shortfalls, Indiana's solid fiscal house and competitive tax environment have earned us national attention as a frontrunner for new jobs and investment," said Mitch Roob, Secretary of Commerce and chief executive officer of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.  "While there is still much work to be done, Governor Daniels' focus on job creation and economic development continues to pay off, even during a time of national recession."
The Tax Foundation study is the latest in a series of national accolades the state has scored in economic development.  In March, Chief Executive magazine found the Hoosier state to be the best place to do business in the Midwest and among the top 11 states nationwide for business, according to feedback from more than 500 businesspersons and published in its annual "Best & Worst States" survey.
The Tax Foundation's full report is available at


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 10:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, September 24 2009
U.S. home prices rose 0.3 percent in July compared to June, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said Tuesday.

The index is 4.2 percent below what it was in 2008 and 10.5 percent off its peak in April 2007.

The index excludes most expensive homes from its calculations, so prices appear to have declined less than they have by other measures.

The report "supports other evidence that the three-year long decline in prices has come to halt," Paul Dales, U.S. economist with Capital Economics, wrote in a note to clients.

Other economists were less positive. "We think house price indexes are likely to edge somewhat lower in the fall when foreclosures become a larger share of home sales," Barclays Capital economist Nicholas Tenev wrote in a note to his clients.

Source: The Associated Press, Alan Zibel (09/22/2009)
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 07:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, September 23 2009

Old National Bancorp (NYSE: ONB) in Evansville has launched a $150 million public stock offering. The company plans to use the proceeds to support ongoing and anticipated growth, which could include acquisitions of other financial institutions, possibly involving assets of failed banks. The underwriters have an option to purchase up to an additional 15 percent of the shares.

Old National Bancorp (NYSE:ONB), the holding company for Old National Bank, today announced it has commenced an underwritten public offering of $150 million of its common stock, subject to adjustment.

The Company intends to use the net proceeds from the offering for general corporate purposes and to support ongoing and future anticipated growth, which may include opportunistic acquisitions of other financial institutions, possibly including acquisitions of assets and liabilities of failed or distressed financial institutions in FDIC-sponsored or assisted transactions.

Sandler O'Neill & Partners, L.P. is the sole book-running manager.
Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, Inc. and SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc. are co-managers.

The Company intends to grant the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 15 percent of the shares offered to cover over-allotments, if any. The shares will be issued pursuant to a prospectus supplement to the prospectus filed as a part of the Company's effective shelf-registration statement on Form S-3 (File No.

About Old National Bancorp

Old National Bancorp, with $8.0 billion in assets, is a financial holding company headquartered in Indiana. Old National Bank, its banking subsidiary, is focused on community banking in its primary footprint in Indiana, eastern and southeastern Illinois, and central and western Kentucky. Old National Bancorp also owns financial services companies that provide services to supplement its banking business, including fiduciary and wealth management services, insurance and other financial services.

Source: Old National Bancorp

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Tuesday, September 22 2009

Mead Johnson Nutrition (NYSE: MJN) is expanding its Evansville operations over the next year and adding 35 jobs. The pediatric nutritional company will invest nearly $33 million in equipment and building improvements for a powder infant formula production line at one of its existing facilities. Mead Johnson employs approximately 1,200 workers at its Evansville-based North American production headquarters.

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (Sept. 21, 2009) — Mead Johnson Nutrition (NYSE:MJN), a pediatric nutritional company, announced today that it will expand its operations here, creating up to 35 new positions by 2010.

Best known for its infant formulas, Mead Johnson will invest $32.8 million in equipment and building improvements needed to bring a powder infant formula production line to one of its existing facilities located on the Lloyd Expressway.

“From Fort Wayne to Evansville, well-known, global companies have recognized the value of doing business in our state,” said Governor Mitch Daniels. “Mead Johnson’s expansion and commitment to Indiana brings new, high-paying jobs for Hoosiers and reinforces southwest Indiana’s economic strength.”

Mead Johnson employs approximately 1,200 associates at its Evansville-based North American headquarters. Also located in Evansville is the Evansville Supply Center, where Mead Johnson develops, manufactures and packages liquid infant formulas. The company plans to begin staffing the additional manufacturing positions over the next year as the new powder production line is phased in.

“The additional manufacturing capacity will enhance the company’s ability to respond to the growing consumer preference for powdered infant formula products,” said Jeff Jobe, Mead Johnson senior vice president, global supply chain. “The new facility will allow us to better meet consumers' needs and help fulfill our mission to create nutritional brands and products trusted to give infants and children the best start in life.”

Founded in 1905, Mead Johnson markets more than 70 products in over 50 countries in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia, employing 5,300 associates worldwide.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered Mead Johnson & Company up to $3.25 million in performance-based tax credits and up to $28,500 in training grants based on the company’s job creation plans. The city of Evansville will create a tax increment financing district which will allow Mead Johnson to capture and reinvest property taxes into its business and it will offer an additional property tax phase-in.

“This investment proves that Evansville has created the right climate to attract new business at a time when there is such strong competition among cities for new jobs,” said Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel. “We are pleased that we are able to continue our partnership with Mead Johnson and create additional jobs and investment in our community.”

Mead Johnson’s growth in Indiana comes just over a month after Dow AgroSciences announced that it would expand its biotechnology research operations in Indianapolis, creating 100 new jobs. Since the IEDC was created in 2005, more than 60 life science companies have committed to create 10,000 new jobs and invest more than $1.1 billion in their Indiana operations.

About Mead Johnson
Mead Johnson & Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mead Johnson Nutrition Company (NYSE: MJN). Mead Johnson Nutrition, a global leader in pediatric nutrition, develops, manufactures, markets and distributes more than 70 products in over 50 markets worldwide. The company’s mission is to create nutritional brands and products trusted to give infants and children the best start in life. The company’s “Enfa” family of brands, including Enfamil® infant formula, is the world’s leading brand franchise in pediatric nutrition. For more information, go to

About IEDC
Created by Governor Mitch Daniels in 2005 to replace the former Department of Commerce, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation is governed by a 12-member board chaired by Governor Daniels. Indiana Secretary of Commerce Mitch Roob serves as the chief executive officer of the IEDC. For more information about IEDC, visit

Source: Indiana Economic Development Corporation

Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 09:44 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, September 19 2009

The start of construction on the new downtown Evansville arena is going to mean the start of big traffic headaches in the surrounding area.
Now, we know what form those headaches will take.
Hafer Associates, one of the design firms on the project, discussed Tuesday at an Evansville Redevelopment Commission meeting what traffic patterns will have to change downtown to accommodate the arena construction.
The city will shutdown the southeast-bound lanes of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard between Walnut and Main once the building process gets under way.
"While we recognize that it is one of the most traveled arteries downtown, it is also adjacent to a construction site where a building several stories tall is going to be constructed," said Jeff Justice, with Hafer Associates. "So, we have to have room around that facility to accommodate all of the lifts and construction vehicles that are necessary to build the exterior envelope of the arena."
He said traffic will still flow both directions on MLK.
The change will just confine drivers to one lane each way on the currently northwest-bound side.
Crews will take out the median for fencing then replace the median when the project is done.
And, the closures don't stop there.
The arena will sit on top of what is now locust street between MLK and 6th.
So, that part of Locust will be gone for good.
There's 6th street, too.
The city will go a step further there than it will on MLK.
"There is a two-way street just to the river side of that, 5th St., so we felt like it was possible to be able to completely close 6th St. between Main St. and Walnut," Justice said.
The Evansville Philharmonic offices and the Victory Theatre sit at the corner of 6th and Main Sts.
The organization will feel the effects of this as much as anyone.
But, Executive Director Glenn Roberts isn't worried.
"We don't have any major concerns about it," he said. "It's going to be a little noisy for us as they do the construction. And, as far as, patrons coming to the philharmonic for concerts, we know that the traffic will be redirected, and patrons mostly come from the north. So, it's not really an issue for us."
The Signature School also sits in that area.
And, Justice said his firm and the city are working with the school to accommodate its unique concerns, like car pool pick up at the end of the day.
He said these closures will likely go into effect around the start of November and run through the completion of the arena.
Redevelopment Commission President Bob Goldman said the road closure discussion at the meeting was purely informative for his board.
It took no action on the matter.


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Friday, September 18 2009

The local FBI and computer repair shops are being swarmed with calls regarding an email you don't want to open. This scam isn't about tricking you into revealing personal information, all they want you to do is open the email.

The email poses as an FBI agency or some sort of government authority. Inside they may ask you to send money, or personal information. However, if you opened the email they could already have all the information they need to steal your savings.

Scam emails have been circulating throughout the Tri-state for several weeks. The sender falsely claims to be an FBI agent. “They may claim to be the FBI, the IRS, The Secret Service. In any case, these institutions would never contact you by email," said Detective Kurt Pritchett with EPD.

Pritchett says, if someone see's a reputable company on the email like the FBI for example, they're more likely to open it. That's exactly what scam artists want. "This type of email contains software that can be like a Trojan Horse or something where they can gain access to your computer,” he said.

This means, hackers can steal your personal information and your bank account numbers just because you opened an email. The FBI has received several hundred calls about this scam. Over the past few weeks, numerous calls have came to computer repair shops like PC Quest. "One gentleman called and said he clicked on some FBI email and now his computer is frozen. His computer wouldn't let him out of the program," said Angie Tennison the manager of PC Quest.

To keep this from happening, officials say do not open emails from anyone you do not know. Plus, make sure your computer has a reputable anti-virus running at all times. If you get the FBI scam delete it. If you've already opened it go ahead and delete it anyway, run a virus scan and call your computer technician.


Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 09:50 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, September 17 2009
Housing starts rose 1.5 percent in August to an annualized rate of 598,000, led by a 25 percent increase in apartment construction, the U.S. Commerce Department announced Thursday.

Single-family starts fell 3 percent to a 479,000 annual rate, the first decline since January. Single-family starts rose 24 percent in the Northeast, 0.9 percent in the Midwest, and fell 2.4 percent in the South. The West was unchanged.

Analysts blamed the expiration of the first-time home buyer tax credit for the decline. “These tax incentives often borrow from future sales and the pickup does not last,” Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in New York, said before the report was announced. “This does not throw the recovery idea into a tailspin, but the housing normalization will come at a slow, measured pace.”
Source: Bloomberg, Bob Willis (09/17/2009)
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 02:25 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, September 16 2009
More than 40 percent of all home buyers in 2009 will qualify for the federal tax credit, costing the government about $15 billion, twice the original estimate, but most housing experts applaud the policy and favor expanding it.

Now the decision is up to Congress.

Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s, believes that the credit should be expanded to all homebuyers, even investors, through summer of 2010. “The risks of not doing something like this are too great,” he said. “I don’t think the coast is clear.”

James Glassman of JPMorgan Chase also favors expanding the credit but continuing to limit it to first-time buyers.

Industry members who are lobbying for the extension are optimistic and say they believe an extension will be approved in some form. “There will be a lot of water under the bridge, a lot of compromise, between now” and a final bill, said Richard A. Smith, chairman of the Business Roundtable’s Housing Working Group.

Source: The New York Times, David Streitfeld (09/15/2009)
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 05:10 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, September 16 2009
Anybody who will be selling a property in the spring should get a jump on curb appeal by working now on beautifying the lawn.

Here are some key tasks that will lead to a green and healthy yard in the next selling season:
  • Calculate the total lawn area to learn how much seed and chemicals are required.
  • Treat weeds with an herbicide.
  • Test the pH level and, if indicated, add lime.
  • Plant ground cover like pachysandra and hardy ferns in low-light or slopping areas.
  • Before preparing, seeding and fertilizing the rest of the lawn, consider whether there are areas that might be better candidates for stepping stones or another attractive alternative to plantings.

Source: Charlotte Observer, Nancy Brachey (09/05/2008)

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Tuesday, September 15 2009

St. Mary's Rehabilitation Institute and the University of Southern Indiana are joining with the American Occupational Therapy Association to conduct a Backpack Awareness Day on Wednesday.

The goal is to educate children, parents, school administrators, teachers and communities about the serious health effects on children from backpacks that are too heavy or worn improperly.

This local event is part of the National School Backpack Awareness Day being held in schools and community centers across the country.

The American Occupational Therapy Association recommends that school backpacks make up only 15 percent of a child's weight.

The growing awareness of potential long-term problems to children has resulted in increased medical research and more coverage of the issue in mainstream publications, as well as medical journals.

A Backpack Awareness Day "Weigh-In" of fourth- and sixth-graders and their backpacks will take place at St. Theresa, St. Benedict, Holy Redeemer, St. Philip, Good Shepherd, St. John, St. Joseph, St. Wendel, Resurrection, Corpus Christi and St. Matthew schools.

— Tom Lovett


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Monday, September 14 2009

— For the third year in a row, Holiday World's Voyage roller coaster has been named the No. 1 wooden coaster in the world while its new Pilgrims Plunge water ride tied for fifth in the "best new amusement park ride" category.

The announcement was made Thursday night by the trade journal Amusement Today during the industry's annual "best of the best" Golden Ticket Awards ceremony at Legoland California in Carlsbad, Calif.

The 1.2-mile Voyage is the Southern Indiana theme park's longest, tallest and fastest coaster, known for its 24.2 seconds of "air time" — time in which passengers are lifted from their seat.

For the 10th straight year, Holiday World was named the country's cleanest park, outranking Disney World, Kings Island, Dollywood and Cedar Point. However, it came in second in the friendliest park category that it has won in the past.

Holiday World spokeswoman Paula Werne said Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo., "squeaked by" Holiday World as the friendliest park "and we congratulate them."

Splashin' Safari remained the No. 2 water park behind perennial winner Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels, Texas. Holiday World's ZOOMbabwe water slide was voted second-best water park ride.

'Incredible honor'

Holiday World President Will Koch called the Voyage's top ranking an "incredible honor" because there are so many "amazing roller coasters around the world."

Pilgrims Plunge, the world's tallest water ride, opened last May to much fanfare, but Werne said it was competing against "some great new roller coasters" for the best new ride title.

The awards and rankings are based on surveys of theme park customers.

Holiday World & Splashin' Safari is closed this weekend, but it will reopen for weekends only from Sept. 19 to Oct. 11.


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Friday, September 11 2009
Homebuyers contemplating purchasing a condominium should review a long list of documents and other information to make sure that the property they are considering is a solid buy in this challenging market.

The following information is a the top of the must-consider list:
  • Budget. Examine the current budget, a year-to-date statement of income and expenses, and a couple of previous years’ budgets to see how they’ve changed.
  • Reserve study. Understand the plan for maintenance and how it will be paid for.
  • Special assessments. Ask if there have been any and whether more are planned.
  • Delinquencies. How many owners are behind in their payments? Many lenders say no more than 15 percent of owners can be in arrears or they won’t write mortgages in the complex.

Source: Chicago Tribune, Lew Sichelman (08/23/2009)
Posted by: Rolando Trentini AT 07:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, September 10 2009
We trust you enjoyed a relaxing Labor Day weekend. I know we did.   The next two months will be busy in the real estate business. The $8,000 first time homebuyer’s tax credit is scheduled to Expire November 30th. There is very little time to complete purchases in time to take advantage of this program and we anticipate that title companies will be scrambling to accommodate closings scheduled for the end of November. 
There have been some very positive articles recently about home sales nationally. Specifically pending contracts (a forward looking indicator) have increased for six consecutive months and are at their highest level since July of 2007. Although reviewing National information is fine, local statistics are much more important to your personal housing decisions. Locally, average sales price for all of 2008 was $119,301. This year through August average sales price is $117,390, a decline of only 1.6%. List price to sale price is also virtually unchanged from 95.61% for 2008 compared to 94.69% this year to date. These numbers suggest that prices have declined but only very slightly and that buyers who think they are going to buy homes at significant discounts from a couple of years ago will be disappointed. As we said last month sales and inventory levels in our local market remain remarkably consistent. Our market, although not booming, is still healthy. The best way to determine market value for your home is to compare it to recent sales of homes of similar condition and location. We would be happy to help you determine the market value of your home, just give us a call at 812-499-9234 or email at
Things are going very well here at F. C. Tucker Emge Realtors and next month we will update you on some of the services we make available to our customers and clients.
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Thursday, September 10 2009

The Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation (EVSC) is implementing a program to address issues at three schools designated by the state department of education as chronically underperforming. Educators have voted in favor of what the corporation calls the Equity School Concept, which will investigate the needs of each of the schools. EVSC Superintendent Vince Bertram says the schools are in need of fundamental change if educators are going to make a difference with the students.

Educators in the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation have voted in favor of the adoption of the Equity School Concept in three EVSC schools – Delaware Elementary, Howard Roosa Elementary, and McGary Middle School. The concept was developed by EVSC personnel and Evansville Teachers Association leadership. Voting through the Evansville Teachers Association took place for the past several days and was completed on Sept 2.

Excellence and Quality Unite in Transforming Youth will investigate the individual needs of each of the schools, which have been identified by the state Department of Education as chronically underperforming schools.

“We must fundamentally change these schools if we are to make a difference for our children,” said Superintendent Vince Bertram during a news conference on Friday (9-4-09). Bertram explained that Equity Schools will include a professional development academy that trains educators for these schools, a longer school year and a change in the structure of the school day.

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett believes that in many cases innovation is necessary for improvement. “The leadership of the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation in the quest for student success is well documented,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett. “When I look at districts that are known for innovation, the EVSC is one that always is at the front of my mind.”

In order to work at one of these schools, an individual must have successfully completed the professional development academy that will be offered from October 2009 through December 2009 – for a total of 40 hours of training. Participation in this academy is by application and approximately 150 teachers, administrators and counselors will be selected. After completing the academy, teachers will be able to teach in an Equity School, or have the opportunity to take the knowledge gained in the academy out to other schools and build capacity throughout the corporation.

Evansville Teachers Association President Keith Gambill said the program will devote more resources “to teachers in the classroom who understand the children they serve each day.” Applications for participation in the Equity Schools Academy were sent today to administrators, teachers and counselors in the corporation. Individuals will be selected to participate based on responses the employees submit on their application.

Bertram said additional days of instruction and a longer time in the classroom, would be a benefit to students and will be employed at these schools. Teachers and administrators will work collaboratively to determine the school’s structure.

Educators selected for these positions will be compensated for the additional time and effort required to address the needs of our students in these schools. The EVSC is hopeful that these efforts undertaken by these innovative schools will be acknowledged by the awarding of Race to the Top funding, provided through the federal government for innovations in education. “This funding is critical if we are to sustain the expected ground-breaking results that our students and community deserve,” Gambill said.

Source: Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation & Inside INdiana Business


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Thursday, September 10 2009

Garbage crews will begin picking up “heavy trash” from Evansville residents later this month.

The collections will run from Sept. 14 to Oct. 16. The city considers heavy trash to consist of sofas, tables, chairs, mattresses, refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, televisions, stereos, building materials and similar things.

For the collection, the city has divided the city into a number of areas. Crews will spend one day picking up heavy trash in each of the areas.

To see a map showing the collection schedule, go to HeavyTrash.

To be picked up, items must be put out before 6 a.m. on the collection day.

The heavy trash should be set in the same place where normal trash is collected. Building materials or debris must be placed in trash cans or boxes. The containers should be light enough to be lifted by two adults.

No concrete blocks or steel poles will be collected. Sections of fencing should be cut in half or to a smaller size.

The work crews will not pick up trash that can be set out for normal collections. Nor will they accept automobile parts, batteries, tires, computer equipment or hazardous substances. For more information, call Allied Waste at (812) 424-3345.


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Wednesday, September 09 2009

Later this month, drivers going east or west on Newburgh Road will find themselves stopping at Burkhardt Road.

In August, local officials approved turning the intersection there into a four-way stop. That change will require placing two stop signs on Newburgh Road, work that crews plan to undertake in the next couple of weeks.

The purpose is to make the intersection safer, said Brad Mills, the executive director of the Evansville Metropolitan Planning Organization. Mills said a study conducted in March found that 303 vehicles passed through there on Newburgh Road each hour. For Burkhardt, the frequency was 281 an hour.

Both counts exceeded the minimums required for stop signs to be installed at an intersection. Their concerns raised, officials next turned to accident reports.

Mills said they found 45 crashes had occurred at the intersection between Sept. 2003 and April 2009. Of those, many were “t-bones,” in which a vehicle traveling Burkhardt had been hit on the side while crossing Newburgh.

Mills estimated that a four-way stop would help to prevent 87 percent of the crashes there.

Such is the hope of Rusti VonderHaar, who complained to local officials about Newburgh and Burkhardt roads about three years ago. Two of the intersection’s features give rise to her fears: its being on a hill and its being formed with Newburgh Road on a diagonal.

Both make it difficult for drivers on Burkhardt to see cross traffic, VonderHaar said.

“That intersection, because of its curvature, is extremely dangerous,” she said.

Still, she wondered if traffic lights wouldn’t serve the purpose better. Stop signs present their own difficulties, she said.

“People can never figure out whose turn it is to go,” VonderHaar said.

Others think they have a better way to make the intersection safer: simply cut down the hill on Burkhardt Road. Joe Kiefer, who sits on the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s board, said that change would prevent further congestion.

Newburgh Road between Interstate 164 and Green River Road is one of the few stretches in Evansville where drivers can travel east or west without having to stop often, Kiefer said.

“Putting that four-way stop there, to me, ruins a nice little transportation artery,” Kiefer said.

Mills said that is one way to look at it. Another is to consider the drivers on Burkhardt Road, who now must sometimes wait a long time for a gap in traffic on Newburgh Road.

Besides, Mills said, lowering the hill would have no effect on traffic counts, which would still dictate that a four-way stop be installed.

“And that’s much more expensive than putting up a couple of signs,” he said.

Even so, Mills concedes that adding stop signs may lead to other troubles, at least in the short run.

More vehicles, for one, may be rear-ended since drivers on Newburgh Road won’t at first expect a stop at Burkhardt. To prevent such crashes, officials plan to install secondary signs that alert drivers to the approaching changes.

“But cutting down the hill would not solve the problem,” Mills said.


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Wednesday, September 09 2009

Evansville Living hometo open for tours

The 2009 Evansville Living Idea Home will be open for tours Saturday through Sept. 20. Tours will be held from 11 a.m. to7 p.m. daily.

The 8,300-square-foot showcase home is located at 5844 Cypress Pointe Drive, in The Estates at Victoria.

The home was built by Messinger Construction and features work from area designers, builders and craftsmen.

Tickets are $10 per person and can be purchased at any Schnucks location or online at

All proceeds will benefit the Tri-State Food Bank, Warrick County Community Foundation and other local charities.

— John Lucas


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Monday, September 07 2009

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is joining forces with the Evansville Levee Authority this week to assess the integrity of the city's 27 miles of flood protection levees and their pumping stations.

The Evansville levee system, begun after the disastrous 1937 flood, is designed to protect the city from the floodwaters of the Ohio River and is divided into seven sections.

Construction of the Knight and Howell levee — the city's first — began in 1939 and was completed in 1948. The newest section, along Pigeon Creek on the city's North Side, was added in 1994. The Federal Emergency Management Agency began calling for the certification of levee systems throughout the country in 2007 in response to levee failures at New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina

By FEMA regulations, levee systems must provide protection from an annual 1 percent flood chance, often referred to as a 100-year flood. FEMA also uses the information to formulate new flood insurance rate maps.

Jay Perry, superintendent of the Evansville Levee Authority, said monthly inspections are made to the system, but he added that the FEMA certification inspection process is much more intense and expensive.

The inspection process alone will cost the Levee Authority $408,000.

"It's a lot more thorough than our other inspections we've had, too," Perry said. "They're looking at everything from Point A to Point B and everything in between."

The 28 Corps engineers operate in teams that review the geotechnical, structural, mechanical, electrical and hydraulic aspects of the levees.

Daniel Frank, the Corps' levee safety program manager, said the inspections are just "the field scenario portion" of the accreditation process, which he expects to end Friday.

After the inspections and field reports, Frank said, the Corps will have until Nov. 12 to report to FEMA.

If Evansville's levee system fails to meet accreditation requirements, Frank said the levee authority then would have 18 months to meet the regulations before being classified as unaccredited. Such a classification could lead to FEMA deeming the area a flood zone.

"If that were the case, people who don't have to pay for flood insurance now may have to pay for it in the future," Perry said. "Hopefully, it won't come to that here. We have a few things here that aren't perfect, but that's with anything."

At the river stage of 26 feet, station pumps begin dumping rain and storm water into the Ohio River, Perry said.

"Our pumping season is from November to June. Sometimes we pump into July. This year, the river came up in August, so it really all depends on weather conditions."

The levee sections have 19 pumping stations that include 55 pumps.

Perry said small units can pump about 1,000 gallons of water per minute, and the larger units can process 143,000 gallons per minute.

In addition to paying for the inspections, Perry said, the Levee Authority will spend $100,000 to clean six miles of pipes at the pump station locations. The process must be videotaped and sent to FEMA for further assessment.


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Sunday, September 06 2009
Investors are returning as the real estate market recovers.

BusinessWeek’s real estate guru Marc Roth points out these opportunities, which he says make sense if investors are willing to look over the property carefully and ask tough questions.

Options they should consider include:
  • Buying a single-family house. This could be a first home or a dream home or a home to rent out.
  • Buying a multi-family investment property.
  • Snapping up a vacation property. There are deep discounts to be found in high-end resort areas.
  • Investing in a Real Estate Investment Trust. REITs were hit hard in the downturn, but many are on their way back.

Source: BusinessWeek, Marc Roth (08/26/2009)
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Saturday, September 05 2009

The U.S. Department of Energy has approved the state's proposal to use nearly $132 million in federal stimulus funding to help more than 30,000 low-income Hoosier households. Within the next two weeks, auditors will begin evaluating residences to determine energy needs. The state says it has trained 190 energy auditors and 483 contractors. Following the audit, homeowners may receive energy savings equipment including programmable thermostats, insulation, new furnaces or hot water heaters.

The state's energy conservation proposal to use nearly $132 million in federal stimulus funding to help more than 30,000 low-income Hoosier households has been approved by the U.S. Department of Energy.

“We appreciate the department giving the green light to our program. We’re eager to get going,” said Governor Mitch Daniels. “Our goal is to lower utility costs for as many people as possible as quickly as possible, putting a dent in Indiana’s overall energy consumption along the way.”

This new program, combined with annual weatherization programs operated by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA), will be 11 times the total of all current annual weatherization programs. New non-profit partners such as the Rural Electric Member Cooperatives (REMC) and the Indiana Builders Association, Inc., will be involved for the first time.

Within the next two weeks, energy auditors will begin evaluations of households to determine energy needs. To date, the state has trained 190 energy auditors and 483 contractors. The state will have exceeded its training goals by the end of September.

Eligible households, which must be at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level, will be notified of their participation. Those who have already qualified for the state’s Energy Assistance Program will be contacted, and priority will be given to elderly and disabled residents and families with children.

Following the audit, homeowners may receive energy savings equipment such as programmable thermostats, insulation, new furnaces or hot water heaters. A state quantity purchasing plan will be used to purchase those materials in bulk using the state’s Buy Indiana initiative, to the extent allowable by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act legislation.

“The Obama administration has flagged weatherization as its number one concern for potential fraud under its stimulus package. While stretching dollars to reach more households, central purchasing will eliminate the chance for fraud or cronyism on the materials front,” said Sherry Seiwert, executive director of IHCDA.

Expenditures of up to $5,000 per household will be made. It is expected that about 2,000 contractors will be used to complete the work in Indiana households.

Earlier this year, the IHCDA sought bids and selected non-profit entities from throughout Indiana to administer funds and oversee completion of the first half of the energy conservation work for $55 million. The contracts with 30 service providers will be performance based; measurements will include how much conservation is achieved per dollar spent, and renewal will depend on each provider’s results.

A list of the selected service providers may be found at this link:

Source: Office of the Governor

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Friday, September 04 2009

The former Welborn Baptist Hospital building in downtown Evansville is headed to the auction block.
St. Mary's owns the building, but officials said they haven't used it for anything in three years.
And, now the hospital system wants out.
The biggest part of the property is this hospital building and the land it's on.
But, St. Mary's is also including two other disconnected parking lots.
Kurtz Auction and Realty is running the bid process.
Interested parties can make bids through October 22.
And, there will be a final decision on October 28.
Tim Flesch, St. Mary's CEO, said he doesn't know if anyone's interested yet nor how much money people would be willing to pay for the site.
And, Jason Blue, with Kurtz, said there's no minimum bid.
So, if high bid is one dollar, then that's how much the winner will pay for the property.
Commercial developers across the region are now asking themselves if they can make a profit by owning the old Welborn Baptist Hospital.
The medical system is eager to get it off the books.
St. Mary's spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on it each year.
And, the building hasn't even been used since 2006.
"We do pay real estate taxes on it. I don't know those numbers," Flesch said. "We still have it insured. We maintain the grass and the facility and the building. And, we have heat, light, power still on at the levels necessary to maintain the building."
But, how much the property costs for St. Mary's to own right now and how much its worth to a commercial developer could be two very different numbers.
"There's some value there," said Jason Blue, with Kurtz Auction and Realty. "But, it's tough to determine what that value is."
The bids will determine exactly what that value is, especially because there's no minimum bid.
Commercial developers FOX 7 spoke with had mixed feelings about the property.
Some said it was a good building with a lot of potential.
Others said there are so many questions about the property they'd be hesitant about bidding.
One of the potential issues in selling this property is that the Welborn building actually shares some of its utilities with the one next door. And, that one isn't on the auction block nor owned by St. Mary's. Just think about that. What if you and your next door neighbor had the same furnace to heat your homes?
Another possible issue, it was built as a hospital.
Moving forward, the new owner can't use it that way.
"We don't believe we need another acute care facility in town, another acute care hospital. So, a restriction is that it can't be turned into that," said Flesch.
But, that doesn't exclude the possibility of putting in a nursing home or assisted living facility - the path that might be easiest for a developer to handle.
Speaking of nursing home facilities, there's one that's been in the news a lot recently, Riverwalk Communities, which currently uses the McCurdy Building.
The plan is to move the residents to the old Knights of Columbus building.
Ben Kunkel, whose company is working that space, said going into this space instead is not a realistic option.


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Friday, September 04 2009
An Evansville attorney files a claim against the Executive Inn Hotel, which has the potential to slow down construction of the city's new downtown arena.

NEWS 25 has been following this story and talked to arena project coordinators to find out the implications of this move.

NEWS 25 obtained a copy of the paperwork which lists intentions of holding a lien against the hotel for $127,200. It was filed last Wednesday with the County Recorder, but the man behind this action tells NEWS 25 his intention is not to hamper the building of the new arena.

Since 1975 the law office of Evansville attorney, Ron Freson has been inside the Executive Inn, on Martin Luther King Boulevard. Tuesday NEWS 25 obtained the document, which states Freson's intent to hold a lien against the hotel.

NEWS 25 went to talk to Freson to find out more about his intentions. He did not want to issue a public statement but tells NEWS 25 demolition of a section of the hotel violates his lease agreement which doesn't expire until 2012. Freson says he wants to be compensated for damages and expenses his firm will suffer, with him losing his office space, and having to relocate.

"Mr. Freson is the only tent ant in the part of Executive Inn that is to be demolished and we know he has a lease and he's been trying to negotiate with the owners, Mutual Bank for sometime," says John Kish, Evansville Arena Project Coordinator. Now Freson is left to negotiate with the hotel's new owners, United Central Bank, who took over the property after the FDIC got involved with the hotel's previous owner's, Mutual Bank.

"The financial ramification of that negotiation are between him and the owner of the real estate and we're buying it free and clear of claims." 

NEWS 25 asked Kish, "Is this going to hold-up the demolition process?"

Kish says "We're confident that it will not interrupt the schedule for demolition." He did tell us demolition is about three weeks behind schedule, due to the FDIC involvement, and part of the hotel should come down by the third week in September.

We did talk to a United Bank spokesperson who would not comment about the lien because of the sensitive nature. The Executive Inn's new General Manager tells NEWS 25 it's still business as usual at the hotel until the sale of the property is finalized.


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Thursday, September 03 2009

Americans may want to check their sweaters and shovels — the Farmers’ Almanac is predicting a cold winter.

The 2010 edition of the venerable almanac goes on sale Tuesday. It predicts numbing cold from the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians.

Managing Editor Sandi Duncan says it’s going to be an “ice cold sandwich,” with milder weather on the coasts.

The Maine-based almanac issues forecasts based sunspots, planetary positions and the effects of the moon.

The National Weather Service is calling for a warmer-than-normal winter because of an El Nino weather system that has developed in the Pacific Ocean.


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Thursday, September 03 2009

According to published reports, the Internal Revenue Service is more closely examining how taxpayers are reporting mortgage interest deductions.

The IRS is reportedly examining some returns with high deductions for mortgage interest and enforcing obscure rules that most home owners and many accountants could be unfamiliar with.

The calculations are very complex and rely on precise records that some home owners may have trouble producing

Experts advise home buyers who have borrowed more than $1 million in mortgages and home equity loans since 1987, the year deductibility limits were enacted, to consult a tax expert because the newest loan may not be tax deductible.

Source: Investment News Daily, Art Auerbach (08/25/2009)


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Wednesday, September 02 2009

Evansville Regional Airport Authority officials say they are interested in property owned by Whirlpool Corp. (NYSE: WHR) for a proposed runway expansion. Our partners at the Evansville Courier and Press report airport officials would like to explore the possibility, if the 1.7 million square-foot refrigerator plant is torn down after production moves to Mexico next year. Airport officials have not discussed the idea with Whirlpool.

The company's corporate communications director tells the newspaper they plan to work with Evansville-area real estate agents and economic development experts to market the plant for a potential sale.

Whirlpool announced last week that it will close the facility in mid-2010, leaving 1,100 people out of work.

Source: Evansville Courier & Press & Inside INdiana Business


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Wednesday, September 02 2009

Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel says any discussion of using the Whirlpool Corp. (NYSE: WHR) property in the city as a landing strip are "premature." Our partners at the Evansville Courier & Press have reported officials with the city's airport authority want to explore the possibility of using the property for a runway expansion, if the plant is razed after production moves to Mexico. Weinzapfel says the focus for the property is "jobs and job creation."

“With regard to the future use of the Whirlpool property, our focus is on jobs and job creation. We will review all opportunities for the constructive reuse of this land that would allow us to bring in new businesses and jobs to the area. Any discussion of the use of this property as a landing strip is premature,” said Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel.

Source: Office of the Evansville Mayor & Inside INdiana Business

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Wednesday, September 02 2009

Holiday World’s top-ranked wooden roller coaster, The Voyage, will be featured Wednesday night as part of The Travel Channel’s “Extreme” series.

The show will repeat on Friday and Sunday.

The one-hour episode, called “Extreme Terror Rides,” will premiere Wednesday at 7 p.m. CDT. The show will feature top thrill rides from around the world. The Voyage is currently ranked the No. 1 Wooden Coaster on the Planet by Amusement Today magazine.

The show will air again at 5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Sunday. The Travel Channel is Cable 59 on the Henderson Insight line-up


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Wednesday, September 02 2009
The University of Evansville says it welcomed its largest freshman class in more than a decade this morning. UE says the class of 701 is the largest in 13 years and the overall full-time student body is up 6 percent over last year. The university says it experienced increased enrollment from students in Vanderburgh and surrounding counties and saw its number of transfer and adult students grow this fall.

The University of Evansville began fall classes this morning with an increase in overall student enrollment, including the largest freshman class in more than a decade.

UE's freshman class of 701 is the largest in 13 years, and the full-time student body is up 6.0 percent over last year. The new class also ranks among the strongest in the last decade, with higher SAT scores and a larger percentage of students who ranked in the top 10 of their high school graduating classes.

"We are extremely pleased to see such strong growth of full-time students on campus," said Thomas Bear, UE vice president for enrollment services. "Seeing this kind of increase, especially in these difficult economic times, is an endorsement to the quality of education UE provides. Our recent rankings in U.S. News & World Report as a top 10 Masters-granting institution in the Midwest, #6 strong commitment to teaching, and #2 Best Value in the region has prompted more students locally to consider UE."

The University experienced increased enrollment from students in Vanderburgh and surrounding counties. Additionally, UE saw its number of transfer and adult students grow this fall.

"There continues to be a strong desire for many local students and residents to obtain a University of Evansville education. Several local veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan have embraced UE’s participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program. This financial award provides these servicemen and women a full-tuition scholarship," stated Bear. "To support the enrollment of these students, the University opened an Office of Veterans' Affairs on campus."

As in past years, diversity is a hallmark of the UE student body for the 2009-10 academic year, with students representing 44 states and 48 countries. Ten percent of the entering class are domestic minority students, meeting another University strategic goal.

Source: University of Evansville & Inside INdiana Business

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Tuesday, September 01 2009

The University of Evansville will provide an open discussion next week about health care issues. The forum, which will be held September 10 at UE's Schroeder Family School of Business Administration, will address America's health care system, some of the plans for change and possible ramifications of various ideas. UE says it wanted to create a non-political event to discuss the system and various options for changes.

With Congress preparing to return to work, and health care the topic on every American’s tongue, faculty from the University of Evansville are looking to provide an open discussion about the issues.

The forum, which will be held Thursday, September 10 at 7:00 p.m. in Harkness Hall (room 162) of UE’s Schroeder Family School of Business Administration, will be a discussion of America’s health care system, some of the plans for change, and possible ramifications of various ideas.

The event is free, and open to the public.

“Obviously, health care is always an important issue for quality of life. Currently, there is considerable controversy surrounding the best way to provide quality and access while managing cost,” said Lynn Penland, dean of UE’s College of Education & Health Sciences. “With all of the attention being paid to the issue, we wanted to create a non-political event where we can discuss our system and various options for changes.”

The forum will begin with brief comments from Penland, who will serve as the moderator, and the three panelists. They then will open the floor for questions and comments.

The panel will include:

· Dr. Amy Hall, chair of the UE Department of Nursing
· Dr. William Stroube, UE Professor and Director of Health Services Administration
· Mary Kessler, chair of the UE Department of Physical Therapy
· Dr. Robert Clark, dean of the UE Schroeder Family School of Business Administration

The Core Purpose of the University of Evansville is to provide life transforming educational experiences that prepare students to engage the world as informed, ethical and productive citizens.

Source: University of Evansville & Inside INdiana Business

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Tuesday, September 01 2009

The University of Evansville's Ridgway University Center is the second Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified building in Vanderburgh County — and the second on the UE campus.

The building, located on Walnut Street across from the Carson Center, opened in November 2008. It was designed by Hafer Associates and Mackey Mitchell Associates and built by Industrial Contractors as an environmentally friendly building, and was registered with LEED before construction began in mid-2007.

"At the University of Evansville, we are proud of our commitment to sustainable, 'green' living," said UE President Stephen Jennings. "As a university, we have made it one of our goals to reduce our carbon footprint in any way we can, and by building the county's first two LEED-certified structures, we are backing up that commitment with action. These campus facilities have been constructed so they require less energy, use less water, and adhere to all of the standards laid out by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design."

The Alcoa Foundation also provided generous financial support to the LEED components of the Ridgway University Center.

Buildings must earn points in six categories set forth by the U.S. Green Building Council in order to achieve LEED certification. Those six categories are: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation and design.

Construction was completed on Ridgway University Center in late summer 2008. The center opened in November 2008. After opening, all LEED-registered buildings must go through several months of use and testing before being officially LEED-certified.

— Mark Wilson


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