Stop the Mid States Corridor!

I attended the Mid States Corridor hearing on April 28 at the Jasper Arts Center. I was struck by the irony in the public comments made by the corridor’s proponents. Rockport Councilman Darrell Wilson spoke first supporting the MidStates Corridor in order to bring desperately-needed business to Rockport. The 4-lane US 231 through Spencer County from the Ohio River to I-64 opened to traffic in 2011. Rockport is dying because the new US 231 bypassed them, as well as Chrisney and Dale. Changing US 231 from I-64 north through Dubois County will do nothing to help Rockport. The 4-lane US 231 caused Rockport’s demise, and will probably cause the demise of Huntingburg, Jasper and Ferdinand.

Ferman Yearby, another public official from Spencer County, spoke next that the highway was a dream that William J. Koch, founder of Holiday World, started working towards over 40 years ago. I found that ironic because Holiday World doesn’t even direct their customers to use the 4-lane US 231 from I-64 south to Santa Claus. Each summer, Holiday World places electronic signs along both eastbound and westbound I-64 instructing Holiday World traffic to use I-64 Exit 63, the Ferdinand exit which connects to State Road 162, and not the 4-lane US 231 that Mr. Koch worked so hard for. Ironic.

Jasper Mayor Dean Vonderheide spoke in favor of the corridor, citing the many accidents along Hwy 231 within the Jasper city limits. Those accidents are almost exclusively fender-benders, while the many accidents along the 4-lane US 231 in Spencer County involve fatalities. (Google “fatalities along US 231 Spencer County”.) I would much rather be involved in a fender-bender than a fatality, wouldn’t you?

Doug Bawel, CEO of Jasper Engines, asserted that his company will not benefit from the new corridor, their trucks use SR 162 and I-64 to then ship out of their Crawford County facility. He said he supported the new corridor because of safety. The irony there is that the new corridor will cross heavily-traveled State Roads 64, 162, 164, 56 and the Schnellville Road. Other county roads will be cut off, forcing even more drivers onto those state roads. With no overpasses and no stop lights at intersections, and with traffic traveling 60-70 mph (regardless of posted speed limits) it will be very dangerous for at-grade intersections and any planned insane J-turns. Traffic congestion? Just wait till this project puts ALL the heavily-traveled roads in Dubois County together at dangerous intersections, especially during commutes to and from work, causing backups, delays and fatalities. That includes delays for Jasper Engine trucks and vehicles using SR 162 to get to I-64. Ironic.

Ed Cole of Dubois Strong spoke of the “projected” economic development to be brought by the new corridor. In 11 years along the 4-lane US 231 in Spencer County, the only development was a Dollar General Store at the ridiculous J-turn intersection at SR 70. Hardly the projected millions in economic impact. Ironic.

And a heartbreaking irony — Gary Hochgesang spoke against the corridor because it will destroy the farm that has been in his family for generations. The State of Indiana recognized the Hochgesang family farm’s 112 years with a Hoosier Homestead Award on April 1, just a few weeks before the corridor public hearing on April 28. INDOT now wants to obliterate that family farm. Ironic.

Take a drive along the 4-lane US 231 from I-64 south to the Ohio River. See the lack of development, see the many county roads that now dead-end. Talk to folks who only had to drive a half-mile on back roads to visit family or to get to their farmland and now have to drive miles out of their way because the local road was cut off. See the narrow, now-useless strips of land between the 4-lane US 231 and the original US 231 that parallels it. Drive into Rockport and see the boarded-up businesses and buildings. See what the MidStates Corridor will bring to Dubois County. No vague studies are needed, the proven 11-year history of an upgraded US 231 is right there. See it.

Learn from the 11-year history of the existing 4-lane US 231. It will NOT be an economic boon, it will NOT be safer. It will cause endless frustration for Dubois Countians every day, for what? To save someone, somewhere, two to five minutes to get to Indy? STOP the Mid States Corridor!

Sue Krampe, Ferdinand

Demand more for mental health

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. As a volunteer and advocate with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, this month I am asking everyone to join us and demand #MoreForMentalHealth.

During my time as a college student, I have advocated fiercely for better access to and education about mental health and suicide prevention. I started a student organization for it, I host countless programs on campus for it, and I have frequent conversations with administrators about it. Since I took on this work, we have lost students to suicide and that prompted the campus community to come together to ask questions about what they could do to support students better. My organization hosts multiple events each semester to help our peers learn what it means to nurture their mental health and how they can best support those around them. This is not just a campus issue though, this is a global issue. Everyone has mental health. Suicide is 100% preventable. That is why I work so hard to educate those around me about prevention tactics and actions. I know that every person in this world is valuable and contributes to the welfare of the world. Everyone should have access to mental

healthcare, even if just to know that someone is always on their side. My hope is that the public supports and agrees with that idea.

Even then, I am always doing more by calling on my legislators at the federal and state levels to support legislation that will fund the implementation of 988 and the suicide and mental health crisis system across our nation, particularly for those in underserved communities.

Currently, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-8255 and de-escalates the crises of tens of thousands of callers each day. On July 16, those in distress and those that support them will be able to reach the Lifeline through a simple 3-digit number: 988. By making the Lifeline more accessible through this shorter number, calls, texts, and chats to the Lifeline’s network of crisis call centers are expected to increase. It is vital that the federal government work with states to ensure callers in distress will have: 1) someone to call, 2) someone to come help, and 3) somewhere safe to go. We must act NOW to secure funding to equip call centers and community crisis response services throughout the country with the staff and resources to respond to everyone in crisis.

I invite you to join me this month in urging our federal and state public officials to do #MoreForMentalHealth. You can start by visiting moreformentalhealth.org.

Together, we can help #StopSuicide.

Brianna Aldana, Evansville