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Old April 10th, 2007, 08:02 PM   #121
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Mezzo-forte: Terre Haute ranked by Forbes

Tirey Memorial Union, seen from Downtown
Published: April 09, 2007 11:25 pm

Forbes ranks Terre Haute No. 56 small metro for business
By Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Terre Haute ranks in the top third in the nation among small metropolitan areas in best places for business and careers, according to Forbes.com.

The online publication and magazine ranked Terre Haute 56th of 179 small metro areas. Bloomington, in sixth place, was the highest-ranked Indiana small metro. Lafayette was ranked 24th and Columbus 45th.

Other small Indiana metros which were ranked include Muncie at 64th; Anderson at 98th; Michigan City at 99th; and Kokomo at 138th, according to the April 5 publication. The top small metro in the nation was Sioux Falls, S.D., while the last was Victoria, Texas.

The criteria used for the rankings included costs of doing business, job growth, educational attainment and population per thousand in the metropolitan statistical area.

While Terre Haute’s overall ranking was 56th, it ranked 16th in the cost of doing business, based on an index on the cost of labor, energy, taxes and office space; 154th in job growth; 110th in educational attainment (based on the share of population over age 25 with a bachelor’s degree or higher); and the metropolitan statistical area has a population of 168,000.

Bloomington’s overall ranking of sixth includes ranking ninth in cost of doing business; 115th in job growth; 19th in educational attainment; and an MSA population of 180,000.

“I don’t hold a lot on these kind of things, but at the same time, you get excited when all of the hard work that has been going on is being recognized,” said Rod Henry, president of the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce.

“There obviously have been significant improvements in this community over the last handful of years. For that to be felt, seen and evaluated according to the way Forbes does it, that says we are doing something right,” Henry said.

“That also ties into, I am convinced, in why there is such an attitude change, a more positive attitude on living, working and doing business” in Terre Haute and Vigo County, he said.

Steve Witt, president of the Terre Haute Economic Development Corp., said the ranking “is relatively good news. With the success stories we had from 2006, with the Pfizer expansion, and expansions at Clabber Girl and Bemis, plus Certainteed and Boral Brick coming to the community, Terre Haute and Vigo County stock has risen in development circles and companies are looking at our community for projects for the future.”

Mayor Kevin Burke said the Terre Haute MSA also was mentioned in a March publication of Site Selection Magazine, which ranked the city seventh in areas with populations less than 200,000. The rankings were for capital investment in new or expanded business facilities in 2006. Terre Haute tied with Parkersburg, W.Va.; Marietta, Ohio; Decatur, Ala.; and Danville, Va.

“This is even more evidence, on top of Site Selection [Magazine], that the changes we are making are getting noticed and that Terre Haute and Vigo County is being viewed as a business-friendly location, and a place that businesses can come and grow and prosper,” Burke said.

“It is very gratifying after the amount of work that we have put into this to be ranked like this and it is very encouraging,” Burke said.

Forbes.com said the best region to do business or start a career in the United States is the Southeast.

“While most economies in the West have also outperformed their peers in the Northeast and Midwest over the past four years, living costs in those regions have risen dramatically,” according to Forbes.com. “Housing costs in Phoenix, spurred in part by easy lending, are up 57 percent in the past two years, knocking it out” of Forbes’ top 10.

The southeast was chosen because of strong economic growth and keeping business costs down, according to Forbes.com. The best state in which to do business or start a career is North Carolina.

The state is home to banking giants Bank of America and Wachovia. The top spot is Raleigh, N.C., which has expanded its economy 6 percent annually over the past three years. Business costs are 13 percent below the national average and the city has a labor force where 38 percent have a college degree, 12th-highest in the nation, according to Forbes.com.

The rankings relied on a business cost index, which factors in labor, tax, energy and office space costs. For living costs, Forbes used Economy.com for weighing housing, transportation, food and other household expenditures. It also supplied five-year historical figures on job and income growth, as well as migration costs.

Education, crime rates and cultural and recreational opportunities also were factored into the rankings.

Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or [email protected].

Indiana’s small metros

• No. 6, Bloomington

• No. 24, Lafayette

• No. 45, Columbus

• No. 56, Terre Haute

• No. 64, Muncie

• No. 98, Anderson

• No. 99, Michigan City

• No. 138, Kokomo
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Old April 15th, 2007, 07:26 AM   #122
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HUF may gain passenger service last seen in Mesozoic Era

I'm not sure how I feel about the county/airport guaranteeing a positive cash flow for Delta, but it seems like the former could come out ahead in the end. A fine move for Terre Haute's underutilized "international airport." But I really doubt that the city can reach 26K boardings a year, since it barely surpassed that during the peak of the 1980s under Britt.

Delta eyes Terre Haute airport
By Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Delta Airlines is considering use of Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field as a stopover facility for an east-west route to Cincinnati, returning scheduled airline service to the airport for the first time in eight years.

A 19-seat Beech 1900 turboprop aircraft would provide at least three round-trip, non-stop flights each weekday and two to four non-stop, round-trip flights each weekend to serve as a Delta carrier to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.

The Cincinnati airport offers 512 flights per day to 121 non-stop destinations.

Vigo County and Terre Haute officials have agreed to fund the return of air service to the airport in hopes it can become self-sustaining. The Vigo County Council is expected to address funding for the service at its Thursday meeting, said Robert Hellmann, president of the council. Costs include a revenue guarantee for the airline carrier, which would pay the carrier money should it not reach its targeted revenue. The carrier would operate more than 1,900 flights, each costing more than $1,100.

The target goal is to reach 70 percent of available seats sold on each flight, which is more than 26,000 passengers a year. At that rate, the airport would pay the carrier more than $79,000.

In the worst-case scenario, at 50 percent of available seats sold or 18,500 passengers, the airport would pay just over $681,200 to the air carrier, airport Director Dennis Dunbar told the Vigo County Board of Commissioners, Hellmann and Terre Haute Mayor Kevin Burke in a meeting last week.

Dunbar said the airport would need $1 million over four years for that revenue guarantee. The airport would not pay more than $1.75 million over the first 396 days of service, under a proposed agreement.

Dunbar said if passenger levels reach 10,000 boardings annually, the airport would be entitled to receive $1 million from the Federal Aviation Administration, through its Airport Improvement Program.

Ticket price is subject to change and could be lower, but is estimated at $89.

As an incentive, the airport would waive any landing fees during the first year, Dunbar said.

Immediate costs include $30,000 to make temporary renovations to the airport’s existing terminal, required under new federal security requirements. In addition, $175,000 is needed for new equipment, such as baggage carts, belt loaders, tugs and refurbishing a de-ice truck.

After a year, the federal Transportation Safety Administration would require a terminal expansion, costing $3.5 million to $4.5 million from a bond issue, Dunbar said.

Mayor Burke said the city, to facilitate air passenger service as quickly as possible, would pay for the $30,000 needed to temporarily renovate the existing terminal and cover payments, from the city’s portion of the Economic Development Income Tax, on a bond issue for an expanded terminal until the airport generates enough revenue to assume payments.

The county, Hellmann said, would cover the cost of revenue guarantee for the air carrier. The city and county would split the overall costs equally, Burke and Hellmann said.

One hurdle, officials said, would be marketing the service, as Terre Haute has not had airline passenger service since 1999. Great Lakes Aviation, doing business as United Express, operated in Terre Haute from 1995 through summer 1999. The airport reached a peak on the number of boardings in the 1980s at 33,000 a year, Dunbar said.

To restore interest in passenger service, $100,000 would be spent on extensive marketing. Hellmann said he would like to see the Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau cover that cost.

State Rep. Clyde Kersey, D-Terre Haute, said Friday he requested and received a proposal to go before a joint state House and Senate conference committee seeking $1.25 million to $1.5 million in state matching funds for the airport terminal/security expansion. The Indiana General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn April 29.

“If we can get it, this would go a long way” to restoring passenger service, Kersey said. “I think the state realizes this is a good project in Terre Haute and is a tool for economic development. When a community has a commuter flight out, it puts it a level above other cities, and the state understands that.”

State Sen. Tim Skinner, D-Terre Haute, on Tuesday attempted to put the funding into an amendment to the Senate version of the House budget, but the measure was not approved.

Steve Witt, president of the Terre Haute Economic Development Corp., said the Wabash Valley has travelers who can make the passenger service a success, “but the key is to convince those folks to use it instead of Indianapolis, Chicago or St. Louis. Marketing is the key, but it would be a tremendous plus for the community. If the airport had air passenger service, it would bode well for future projects at the airport.”

The airport may face one other issue, which is fire protection.

Currently, the Indiana Air National Guard provides crash fire protection. The cost is $1.2 million in salary and benefits to 24 firefighters. A joint-use agreement for the fire protection expires at the end of September. Dunbar said the airport needs at least 12 firefighters, costing about $600,000 for salaries and benefits, to maintain the service.

On Saturday, Dunbar said he is more confident the airport will have the firefighter service, as funding was apparently placed into the state’s budget for the National Guard. Dunbar said he did not yet have any specific budget information. The military has a proposed plan for Terre Haute’s airport to be a support base for training.

Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or [email protected].
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Old April 16th, 2007, 06:55 AM   #123
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Historical Treasure: Downtown U.S. Post Office is a ‘classic’
The absolute saddest thing about these photos is that almost every other building is now gone - the Deming Hotel, and a few church steeples are all that remain of the original structures, and of course, the post office.

By Linda Patrick
Special to the Tribune-Star

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” This quotation from Herodotus has become the unofficial motto of the U.S. Postal Service.

This week’s historic treasure is a familiar feature to downtown Terre Haute — the U.S. Post Office at Seventh and Cherry streets. The present building is actually the second one to occupy this site. It replaced the post office and federal building that opened in 1887. The columns and pediment from that building were moved to Fairbanks Park to become part of the Chauncey Rose Memorial.

The three-story structure, designed by architects Miller and Yeager of Terre Haute, is art deco in style, considered the most modern at the time. It’s faced with Indiana limestone on the exterior and marble on the interior. Work on the building began in 1933 once the old post office was demolished. Funded as a Public Works Project from a grateful Franklin Roosevelt, construction gave jobs to citizens during the Depression. The building was completed on Dec. 1, 1934 and opened in 1935.

Some characteristics of the art deco style are hard-edged, low-relief geometric designs and figures (notice the eagles near the roof), an emphasis on the vertical (notice the windows), multicolored designs of zigzags, chevrons, spirals and scrolls, with machined aluminum detailing. Egyptian forms were popular (notice the papyrus reed pattern on the grill in the elevator area and in the borders). The elevator doors have raised stars on them, symbolizing patriotism. The building is undergoing renovation; the chandelier fixtures have been repaired and the exterior and interior have been thoroughly cleaned, once more revealing the white limestone outside and the brilliant turquoise borders and cream-colored ceiling inside. It’s a classic example of governmental architecture of the ’30s. If City Hall looks a lot like it, that’s because it was designed by Miller and Yeager, too.

Besides the post office, the building originally housed the Social Security Administration, the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, the federal court and other courtrooms on the upper floors. A point of interest in the federal courtroom is a 20-foot-by-20-foot mural, “The Signing of the Magna Carta” by Frederick Webb Ross of Shelbyville. Ross painted the mural in his New York City studio and shipped it to Terre Haute in pieces, where it was reassembled and mounted in the courtroom.

Indiana State University plans to relocate the School of Business to the upper floors, with the post office remaining on the first floor to serve the downtown area. There’s so much more detail to see, the next time you’re in the area, stop and take a look at a “classic.”

Extra: Photo of the Vigo County Courthouse from the 1950s? From the IUPUI Image Collection:

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Old May 2nd, 2007, 05:42 PM   #124
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Old National Banks on New Downtown Museum

Published: May 01, 2007 11:19 pm

ONB commits $200,000 toward Children’s Museum

Museum has raised $3.3M toward new facility
By Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Old National Bank has committed $200,000 toward construction of the new Terre Haute Children’s Museum at Eighth Street and Wabash Avenue.

Groundbreaking for the project is expected in June.

“This is really an exciting day for us,” said Don Schroeder, Old National Bank’s regional chief executive officer, during an announcement Tuesday. “This is going to be the beginning of a great partnership … It will be awesome to have a new neighbor.”

The Children’s Museum is being built in concert with a new, extended-stay hotel called Candlewood Suites.

The museum will occupy the first three floors of a new building next to a renovated Tribune Building. The top three floors of the new building, along with the renovated Tribune Building, will house the new extended-stay hotel, which will be managed by Dora Bros. Hospitality Corp.

The museum has now raised $3.3 million toward construction of a new facility, said John Thompson, president of the Children’s Museum board. The project will cost about $4.8 million.

“We can see the top of the mountain, and we’re almost there,” Thompson said.

A new, state-of-the-art children’s museum “will be an integral part of a revitalized downtown,” Thompson said.

Old National is committing more than money, Thompson said. Through the partnership, it will assist with museum marketing and promotions and employees will be involved in many other ways, including charitable activities to benefit the museum.

“It shows to me a true passion and commitment for this cause,” Thompson said.

The project is on schedule, he said, and demolition crews will begin tearing down the old theater portion (former press room) of the Tribune Building later this week.

Demolition will make way for construction of the museum and Candlewood Suites, with a groundbreaking expected in June. The target opening date for the new museum is August 2008, provided fundraising efforts go as planned, Thompson said.

“We want to make sure we’re fiscally responsible. We’re not going to overextend ourselves,” he said.

The new museum will have about 23,000 square feet, compared with the current site’s 3,000, Thompson said. The existing facility is at 523 Wabash Ave.

In acknowledgment of the bank’s gift, a street-level science store in the museum will be named the Old National Bank Science Store. The museum will operate the gift store.

The bank’s donation was made possible through a $175,000 gift from the Old National Bank Foundation. Locally, Old National will raise an additional $25,000.

The $3.3 million raised so far for the museum includes a $1 million commitment from the city of Terre Haute, Thompson said. The city agreed to spend up to $1 million from the Economic Development Income Tax fund to match up to $1 million in new contributions for the Children’s Museum.

The museum still needs to raise an additional $1.5 million for the facility. “We’re looking for help there,” Thompson said.

Mayor Kevin Burke said the museum is an example of what Terre Haute can achieve when people work together.

The city’s contribution represents neither charity nor a giveaway, but an investment in economic development and an “investment in ourselves,” Burke said.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or [email protected].
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Old May 10th, 2007, 04:36 PM   #125
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Wabash Riverside Development Plan Unveiled

River development organization knows ‘what we want to do’
By Crystal Garcia
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Wabash River Development and Beautification Inc. is out of its conceptual stage.

“We know what we want to do,” said John Mutchner, president of the group. “Now we’re identifying grant possibilities and applying for grants.”

What started out as a citizen committee has become incorporated and received not-for-profit status in the past two weeks.

“We needed to incorporate so we are a legal entity,” Mutchner said. “We can seek grant money and then turn around and spend it.”

As part of this change, the board of directors elected a senior leadership team that consists of Kevin Runion, associate vice president of facilities management at Indiana State University, as vice president; Nancy Brattain-Rogers, American Humanics campus director and director at the Center for Public Service & Community Engagement at ISU, as treasurer; and Rod Henry, president of the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce, as secretary. Corporate bylaws also were adopted.

“The bylaws are just basic that were drafted by an attorney just to give us structure,” Henry said.

Wabash River Development and Beautification Inc. is dedicated to developing an active waterfront in Terre Haute and Vigo County. It originated from the Terre Haute strategic plan agenda formulated by the Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Corp. in 2000, Henry said.

However, the group itself has been meeting monthly for about two years at the Chamber of Commerce.

It is made up of 18 representatives from local government entities and people from the county such as Pat Goodwin, engineer for the city of Terre Haute; Greg Ruark, superintendent of the Terre Haute Parks and Recreation Department; and David Decker, a Vigo County commissioner.

Some plans the group has include buying land up and down both sides of the river, working with the Indiana Department of Transportation to get some work done on U.S. 40 and developing wetlands for nature trails, nature studies and hiking paths. They also hope to add a lake to that area, Mutchner said.

“There’s a lot of exciting things that can happen,” Henry said. “The key is getting something moving forward that the community can look to and say, ‘Wow, this is becoming a reality.’”

All plans for the river development are only in discussion phases. Mutchner said whatever happens first, all projects depend on what the group can get funding for first.

For more information about Wabash River Development and Beautification Inc., call the Chamber of Commerce at (812) 232-2391.

Crystal Garcia can be reached at (812) 231-4271 or [email protected].
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Old May 10th, 2007, 04:38 PM   #126
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Paris, St. Louis....Terre Haute

Classic small town boosterism hyperbole, but after years beating up on itself, the city could use some. Will post images once they become available.

New pedestrian bridge across the Wabash could become Terre Haute’s Eiffel Tower

Bridge would be 130-feet tall, 630-feet long
By Crystal Garcia
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Discussions are under way to build a pedestrian bridge across the Wabash River, a project that some say could make Terre Haute stand out.

“We think this is a great project for the community,” said John Mutchner, president of Wabash River Development and Beautification Inc. “The river is Terre Haute’s, probably Terre Haute’s largest underdeveloped asset, and it’s presently not being used aesthetically or recreationally or in any way, really.”

The project was presented to the public as well as city and county officials Wednesday in the Vigo County Annex.

Five students from the senior civil engineering design class at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology used their project to design the pedestrian bridge for Wabash River Development and Beautification Inc. It would connect Fairbanks Park on the east side of the Wabash River to the west side just south of Dresser, an area many hope to develop into recreational wetlands.

Dustin Duvorak of Cincinnati, Adam Knack of McHenry, Ill., Devin Cook of Greenwood, Jason Bednarko of Athens, Ill., and Josh Heigert of Sherman, Ill., began working on the project in September.

Heigert said the hardest part was coming up with the design because “it was a big project and we hadn’t been through something that extensive before.”

Of four options for bridge structures, the students chose to come up with their own signature structure that has a double thrust arch, is 130-feet tall, 20-feet wide and 630-feet long.

“This was the design option that we felt would, like, shoot for the stars for Terre Haute,” Cook told the crowd during the presentation, “and this was the one that we thought would be the landmark structure, which we thought the city would like.”

Other structures wouldn’t work because they would cost more to build or wouldn’t be visually pleasing, he said.

If built soon, the bridge would cost at least a $4.5 million.

Pat Goodwin, engineer for the city of Terre Haute and member of the development group, explained that because the bridge would be visible from the Historic National Road, such a project is eligible for at least five different types of federal grants.

Mutchner noted, however, grant money will not cover all the costs.

“Can we get a grant for this whole bridge? No, most grants are usually 80/20, 70/30, something of that sort,” he said. “ … Say we get up to $3 million in grant money. You don’t want to throw that away, but that’s going to have to come up, one way or another it’s going to have to be local.”

He said a project such as this as well as development along the river will improve the quality of life for the people in the area.

“If you’ve got a nice town, industry’s more likely to settle here because the people who make the decisions on companies coming to a city, they look at everything … ,” Mutchner said.

City Councilman Todd Nation, D-4th, thinks it’s an exciting idea.

“The idea of making a safe way for pedestrians and cyclists and people not in cars to get across the Wabash River is a big step forward for us,” he said. “I wish we were building it and not just talking about designing it.”

Nation said he’s not sure if the City Council would play a role in its fruition because the mayor would decide if the match money for the grants could come from the Economic Development Income Tax money.

Also, if it takes three to five years for the vision to become a reality, Nation said, people in office now could be gone by then.

“Paris has got the Eiffel Tower, St. Louis has got the Arch, what does Terre Haute have?” Mutchner asked. “This could be its signature piece for Terre Haute.”

Crystal Garcia can be reached at (812) 231-4271 or [email protected].
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Old May 10th, 2007, 04:55 PM   #127
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That sounds quite lovely in my opinnion! Hopefully, this has better luck getting built than the IC did in Indy. LoL
Indianapolis. EVERYTHING you NEED & NOTHIN ya DONT! ;-)
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Old May 11th, 2007, 08:31 AM   #128
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TH Parks NFP announced

Terre Haute parks officials creating new non profit

Group will help with improvement ideas for parks
By Austin Arceo
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Terre Haute residents may soon have a direct effect on some future city parks projects.

Members of the Terre Haute Parks and Recreation Board are starting a not-for-profit organization to help create improvement projects. The group will be able to determine park projects and raise some of the funding for them, officials said.

“It’s not only a financial thing,” said board vice president Nancy Cummins, “but it’s a way to involve people in the community in what they want and what they like in our department, too.”

Cities comparable to Terre Haute have similar groups that help the parks systems, officials said.

Terre Haute parks officials will contact people who might be interested in belonging to the group from those who attended the board’s informational meetings late last year, when the board promoted its $4 million capital improvements plan.

The idea for the new not-for-profit came about during the board’s planning for the multi-million dollar initiative.

The group, likely to be named something similar to “Friends of Terre Haute Parks,” will be a way that people donate money and have it spent specifically on park projects, said Parks Board president John L. Wright.

The group will work with the city’s parks department on potential projects that may be undertaken, he added.

“I think we saw it through … the capital improvement process, that there are a lot of people interested in the park system…,” Wright said.

The parks officials are expected to submit documentation to state officials to create the group by the end of next week. The group’s first meeting likely will be conducted in early June.

Austin Arceo can be reached at (812) 231-4214 or [email protected].
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Old May 13th, 2007, 08:40 AM   #129
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Details on Terre Haute's New Downtown Transit Facility

Cherry Street Transit Facility :

Location -
7th and Chery Street,
Terre Haute, Indiana

Terre Haute’s new multi-modal transportation facility in downtown Terre Haute, also known as the Cherry Street Facility, scheduled for completion in early 2008, will function as a transit headquarters and bus transfer facility and will have 638 automobile parking spaces on five levels.

The project is a key economic development initiative for the community and a catalyst for additional projects that will bring students and citizens into downtown Terre Haute and stimulate new private development expected to create hundreds of local jobs. The Cherry Street Facility project is a partnership of the City of Terre Haute, Indiana State University and the local business community. It will be maintained and operated by the City of Terre Haute, Transportation Department.

Cherry Street Facility - At AGlance:

* Multi-modal transportation facility
* Automobile parking facility
* City and interstate bus transfer facility

Maintained and operated by the City of Terre Haute,
Transportation Director, Brad Miller

Project representative for the City of Terre Haute,
The Department of Redevelopment,
David Walker, Public Works Administrator


* Three elevator towers
* ISU land lease - 40 years
* Building square footage - 216,000
* Parking spaces - 638
* Construction time - 455 days
* Completion date - January 8, 2008

Construction cost:
Federal Transportation Grant $8,900,000
Bonding Amount $4,500,000
TOTAL CONST. COST $13,400,000

Original start date of design:
May 28, 2002

Sanders and Associates, Terre Haute
Mr. Dan Sanders

Consulting Architects:
Rich and Associates, Southfield, Michigan
Mr. Rick Kinnell

General Contractor:
Hannig Construction, Inc., Terre Haute
Mr. William Biddle, President
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Old May 14th, 2007, 09:37 PM   #130
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Mayor Burke Breaks Streak; Wins Democratic Primary

Mayor Kevin Burke, elected in 2003 with a promise to "do something" about downtown, appears to have convinced Democratic voters in Terre Haute, who handed him a victory in the recent primary election. He will face, and very likely defeat, Republican challenger Duke Bennett, as Burke did in 2003.

See the Tribune-Star editorial about the rematch here.

I recently came upon a couple of Burke's reelection videos, posted on Youtube, where he touts the success of his downtown redevelopment initiatives.

Congratulations Mayor Burke, and best of luck in the general election!

Downtown ad

"Phenomenal Progress" ad

Neighborhoods ad

Burke speaking to the Blue Dog Dems on jobs
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Old May 21st, 2007, 04:19 AM   #131
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Vigo County Population Estimated To Rise Slightly

Vigo County's Census Totals:
2006 103,009 (est)
2005 102,592 (est)

2000 105,848
1990 106,107
1980 112,385
1970 114,528 highest population recorded
1960 108,458
1950 105,160
1940 99,709
1930 98,861
1920 100,212
1910 87,930
1900 62,035
1890 50,195
1880 45,658
1870 33,549
1860 22,517
1850 15,289
1840 12,076
1830 5,766
1820 3,390

Published: May 19, 2007 11:58 pm

Vigo County’s population on the rise

Slight increase in birth rate, influx of international residents leading to growth

By Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — For the first time in six years, Vigo County’s estimated population is on the increase, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The increase, while slight, is attributed to an increase in the birth rate, plus an influx of international residents, offsetting the exit of residents from the county, according to the Census Bureau.

Overall, the county’s population increased by 274 people, or a 2.7-percent population increase from July 1, 2005, to July 1, 2006.

The county still remains in a deficient from previous population estimates, losing more than 2,800 residents since April 1, 2000. The Census Bureau had projected Vigo County’s population would increase about 1,000 people from 2000 to 2005.

Vigo County’s estimated population for July 1, 2006, is 103,009. The Census Bureau currently projects the county’s population to be more than 107,100 in 2010.

“I would say the declines were unexpectedly big, but economic or employment trends may be reversed. I would say this is good news for the county to have the first increase since 2000,” said Matt Kinghorn, economic research analyst at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.

“The biggest thing that jumps out is the decrease in internal migration, which is folks moving around in the United States,” Kinghorn said.

“In 2005, Vigo County had lost 482 residents, so 482 people moved somewhere else in the U.S. than moved in, but in 2006, that net migration loss was only 98, the lowest of this decade,” Kinghorn said.

In 2004, the net migration loss was about 1,300 residents.

“When you combine the internal migration with the international migration, you get the total migration number. Vigo County gained 28 people for 2006. That is the first time since 2000 the county has seen a positive migration,” Kinghorn said.

The number of births versus deaths has been on the increase in Vigo County since 2004, when there were 100 more births than deaths. That increased to 215 more births than deaths in 2005 and 225 more births than deaths for 2006 (1,288 births to 1,063 deaths.).

Steve Witt, president of the Terre Haute Economic Development Corp., said a stronger economy in the county most likely is part of the growth.

“I think certainly the strengthening of our local economy can be attributed to some of that positive growth, although small. With some of the new manufacturers who have come into the community coupled with our long-time manufacturers, such as Pfizer, Sony DADC and Bemis, some of the growth they have had, all helps to give people a reason to live here and that is employment opportunities,” Witt said.

“Our population peaked around 1970 and has been on a downward spiral since until most recently with this data, so perhaps we are on the way back up a little bit, certainly it has leveled off,” Witt said.

“By having a base population that is stable or growing a bit, it is positive for so many reasons. It is more people paying local property taxes, which means less for each individual. In terms of federal funding for initiatives, a growing population helps in that regard. The more children we have enrolled in our school corporation, that bodes well for their funding. It is a positive development,” Witt said.

In 2005, manufacturing was the largest of 20 major sectors in the county, accounting for nearly 16 percent of all jobs in the county, according to STATS Indiana, from the Indiana Business Research Center at IU’s Kelley School of Business.

Manufacturing had an average wage per job of $45,375. And Vigo County’s per capita income grew by 14.3 percent between 1995 and 2005 (adjusted for inflation), according to STATS Indiana.

In figures released earlier this week, the Census Bureau reports the nation’s minority population now tops 100 million. The minority population is 100.7 million residents, according to national and state estimates by race, origin, gender and age, the Census Bureau reports. A year ago, the minority population totaled 98.3 million.

“About one in three U.S. residents is a minority,” said Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon. “To put this into perspective, there are more minorities in this country today than there were people in the United States in 1910. In fact, the minority population in the U.S. is larger than the total population of all but 11 countries.”

The population in 1910 was 92.2 million. On Oct. 17, 2006, the Census Bureau reported that the nation’s overall population had topped 300 million.

California, according to 2006 figures, had a minority population of 20.7 million — 21 percent of the nation’s total. Texas had a minority population of 12.2 million — 12 percent of the U.S. total population.

There were other milestones reached, as well, during the July 1, 2005, to July 1, 2006, period: The nation’s black population surpassed 40 million, while the Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander group reached the 1 million mark.

Hispanic remained the largest minority group, with 44.3 million on July 1, 2006 — 14.8 percent of the total population. Black was the second-largest minority group, totaling 40.2 million in 2006. They were followed by Asian (14.9 million), American Indian and Alaska Native (4.5 million), and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander (1 million). The population of non-Hispanic whites who indicated no other race totaled 198.7 million in 2006.

The Hispanic population is also Indiana’s fastest growing minority, Kinghorn said. It grew by 40.2 percent from 2000 to 2006. The state’s Asian population followed closely behind with a growth of 37.4 percent from 2000 to 2006, compared to 22.9 percent for the nation, Kinghorn said.

The state’s black population grew 9.1 percent, and the white population grew 2.7 percent, each between 2000 to 2006. Indiana’s estimated population is 84 percent non-Hispanic white, compared to 66 percent for the nation, Kinghorn said.

Nationwide, the Hispanic population in 2006 was younger, with a median (equal number above and below) age of 27.4, compared to the population as a whole at 36.4. About a third of the Hispanic population was younger than 18, compared with one-fourth of the total population.

Asian and Black populations, as well as the American Indian and Alaska Native, have younger median ages, compared to the population as a whole. The Asian median age in 2006 was 33.5 and the back median age was 30.1. The American Indian and Alaska Native population median age in 2006 was 31.

The Census Bureau will release data on gender, age and race at the county level in mid- to late July, said spokesman Robert Bernstein.

Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or [email protected].
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Old May 25th, 2007, 07:07 AM   #132
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Study to provide neighborhood preservation, development plan
By Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A study of 512 acres surrounding Union Hospital will serve as a foundation for a new neighborhood preservation and development plan.

The plan will serve as a guideline for developers, architects, residents and business owners around Union Hospital. The Vigo County Area Plan Commission and the Terre Haute City Council are to vote on its possible adoption, but only after public input on the study, expected to take six to eight months.

Vigo County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved a contract between the county’s Area Planning Department and Camiros, Ltd., a city planning, development and design consulting firm based in Chicago, pending advance payment to the county of $75,000 from Union Hospital.

The planning department sent out 30 copies of a request for proposals for the study that includes the Collett Park neighborhood and Union Hospital. Four proposals were submitted, with Camiros, Ltd. selected, said Jeremy Weir, executive director of the planning department.

The study area includes 512 acres within Terre Haute city limits. The study boundaries are Florida Avenue on the north, then south down an alley between 11th and 12th streets to Lafayette Avenue, then southwest to Second Avenue, then west to Third Street (U.S. 41), then north and northeast back to Florida Avenue. “Union Hospital feels it needs to have a neighborhood plan surrounding [the announced new hospital building], not only to be a good neighbor, but also to provide them the stability through the future for what they can do. It is in their interest to have this plan prepared,” Weir said.

“It is also a benefit to our plan commission and the city of Terre Haute to have a vision for this community to help us administrate and develop regulations and policies toward this development,” Weir said. “It is a win-win.”

With the closing of Seventh Street, the hospital heard other, separate issues and concerns about the future of the neighborhoods around the hospital, said Lorrie Heber, system director, marketing and public relations for Union Hospital Health Group.

“Issues of safety of kids walking from Ouabache [Elementary] School … and some concerns about historic preservation and concerns about where the hospital would be expanding next and land use issues,” Heber said.

“The notion of doing more of a comprehensive neighborhood plan came up and we said that is a great idea. We are here and our neighbors are here and we need to find the best way to make sure that we live together in harmony,” Heber said.

“We are excited because this is the first study in the city of Terre Haute of this magnitude,” Heber said. “The folks who live in this area love their area. I think they are engaged and thoughtful and concerned about how to make this the best neighborhood possible for now and in the future. This is great place to start this kind of planning process for the city and we can set the example.”

Heber said Union Hospital expects to fund the contract within the next 10 days.

Weir said the study also will help with decision making for land use south of Union Hospital.

“We need to decide whether or not we need a redevelopment program [south of the hospital] and what is the potential land uses between Indiana State University and Union Hospital and what kind of program do we need to accomplish that,” Weir said.

“Does it need to be housing or a mixed-use neighborhood? We want to come up with a decision on development policies for that section of our community,” Weir said.

Under the contract, Camiros must hold public meetings with property owners, residents and other stakeholders to obtain input for development of the study area; make an analysis of the exterior of existing structures for potential designation as historic sites; analyze existing traffic patterns including automobile, public transit, pedestrian and bicycle traffic within and through the study area and assess the accessibility of Collett Park from the neighborhoods and businesses in the study area.

Camiros also must analyze “current massing, density and height regulation in relationship to the residential, commercial, institutional and historic character of the area,” according to the contract. In addition, it must analyze existing parking area and parking regulations and evaluate and assess existing zoning and city planning guidelines, as well as current goals and policies.

Camiros also will investigate existing commercial, retail, and institutional facilities in the area for their contribution to livability in the study area and assess public and personal safety in the vicinity.

Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or [email protected].
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WVJB photos by James Hehman

Downtown developers: John Thompson and Paul Thrift (Top) look over plans for their three downtown projects--Candlewood Suites ( middle left), the Hilton Garden (middle right), and the Clabber Girl facility (bottom).

ThompsonThrift builds downtown redevelopment

By Robert L. Flott
WVJB Editor

Anyone who has ever watch A&E's program, "Flip This House" may have wondered if anyone could be successful converting old houses.
After all, They do tend to make it look pretty easy.
Yet, John Thompson and Paul Thrift began their company and their careers just that way, flipping old houses in Terre Haute.
Thompson and Thrift met at Terre Haute Baptist School (now Terre Haute Christan Academy). "We played played basketball and soccer together," Thompson said.
John graduated in 1985 and Paul in 1986. About that time, as both were beginning Indiana State University, they decided to find a common project.
"When Paul graduated, we began talking about going into business together," Thompson said. "We got together and bought our first piece of real estate. That's really how it all got started."
"I believe we bought something like thirty or forty or fifty old homes in Terre Haute," Thompson said. "At the time, there was a lost of opportunities for somebody..it seems like there were a lot of bank foreclosures. We'd buy a house and doing everything from just cleaning it up a little bit to major renovations.
"We had a lot of success at that, but we found out it wasn't something we could repeat regularly. We might buy five house one month, and then go six months and not find anything."
Their first new construction project was the Sycamore Place apartment complex, near Indiana State University on Spruce Street.
"It was the first new apartment complex built specifically for Indiana State students," Thompson said "It was successful, so we built another. We ended up with five units totaling 120 apartments. We had one hundred percent occupancy. About four or five years ago, we sold it."
Soon after, ThompsonThrift was contacted by Ralph Wagle, then with Hannum & Wagle Engineering. Wagle had a project for the pair.
"From a construction standpoint, our first third-party construction project was for Ralph Wagle," Thompson said. "We built some apartments for him. That was our first project where we went out and worked for somebody else for a fee. Ralph had done some engineering work for us. Hannum Wagle and Cline were the architects on the Sycamore Place."
Projects continued to appear for Thompson Thrift. They build Blockbuster Video on the Northside of Terre Haute, and a subdivision in West Terre Haute for the Sisters of Providence."
In 1996, ThompsonThrift went back to its roots, this time flipping an old shopping mall in Noblesville. Around the same time, Thompson and Thrift split the responsibilities with their growing business. Thompson took over operations of the construction side, while Thrift took over construction of the development side.
"We both have very defined roles within our company," John said.
In 2002, Thompson and Thrift began one of the first major renovation projects in downtown Terre Haute when the bought the former Eston Fuson building at 901 Wabash Ave., which they transformed into their new headquarters. The beautiful and spacious offices are spread over one and half floors and include a workout and spa for employees.
From there, ThompsonThrift seemed to explode upon Terre Haute. First in 2004, they purchased at auction TowneSouth Plaza, which had fallen on hard times. At almost the same time, they announced purchase of the former Maryland Community Church property at 5599 US HWY 40 South. This property was to become Honey Creek Commons, a new shopping center anchored by a Kohl's department store.
"The last three years have been extraordinarily busy for us, both on the construction side and on the development side," Thrift said. "It meant a lot both to our company and to the community to see both those properties redeveloped."
Currently, all eyes are on ThompsonThrift's project at the corner of Seventh and Wabash. Literally all eyes: nice days will find several people sitting along the sidewalks watching construction.
"Certainly that corner has a tremendous significance both historically, and hopefully looking forward into the future," Thrift said. "Hopefully, it will have a significant impact on the future."
Thrift points to all the festivals that taking place downtown such as the Brickyard Barbecue, the Blues at the Crossroads, Strassenfest, and the Street Festival as a catalyst for growth downtown.
"Hopefully both hotels will, and the Children's Museum can work together to help create a new and vibrant downtown."
How does it feel to be responsible for constructing a building that replaces a major Terre Haute Icon"
"Certainly, it's an honor have that responsibility," Thrift said. "I don't remember the old hotel ever having been open. It was before my time. I have seen many photos and heard stories. To be a part of this renaissance is exciting."
"It's a project that has a lot of eyes on it," Thompson said. "We're obviously aware of that aspect. I want us to focus on what we do every day. If we do, then the end will take care of itself. I don't want to put additional pressure on our people."
Thompson has a bird's eye view of three of his major projects--the Hilton Garden, Candlewood Suites and the new Clabber Girl facility. All three are visible from the ThompsonThrift offices at 901 Wabash Ave.
"It's nice right now, Thompson said, "but it's going to change rather quickly. It seems to cycle. We'll have a situation where sixty percent of our work is in Terre Haute, then next year it will be thirty to forty percent, and we'll be out about the state." Cobblestone Apartments, a fourth local project located just south of the Ivy Tech campus, is nearing completion.
ThompsonThrift currently has projects under construction in five states including a shopping center in Fort Wayne, another center in Mattoon, and an LA Fitness Center in Chicago.
"We are spread out beyond Terre Haute, and we're going to be for some time," Thompson said.
"We always take it one project at a time," Thrift said "We've had good steady growth for 21 years. It's really been a slow progression. In the last three to five years we've gotten some attention, so it seems as if we just came on the scene. Hopefully we can keep that going."
Keep so many projects straight in so many locations is part of the secret of ThompsonThrift's success.
"It's almost cliche to say it, but we've got good people," Thompson said. "We give them their authority, and we let them do their jobs. I guess it starts at the top. Paul and I both understand our roles. I'm there anytime he needs help, and he's there for me whenever I need it."
The many multiple projects have also constructed some rumors that the pair had added a third partner to mix. Thrift said nothing has changed.

Developing: ThompsonThrift is also building an industrial park on the city's north side.

"We have exacting the same ownership structure we have had since we started 21 years ago," Thrift said, adding that he hadn't even heard of the rumor. "My world exists with me coming in at 6 a.m. every morning and working until 6 p.m. each night," Thrift said. "I usually don't even leave me desk."
Thrift is proud of his partner's leadership efforts with the Children's Museum
"I'm very please to see him take on that role," Thrift said. "He really took on a challenge there, and he's really taken the bull by the horns."
ThompsonThrift has come under considerable criticism in recent years for not hiring union labor for its projects, a charge Thrift quickly denies.
"I think every project we've built there has been some element of union labor on it," Thrift said. "Many projects are predominatingly union labor. "
"We simply don't set that as a criteria as to how we are going to staff a project," Thrift continued. "We simply provide the best service, the best warranty, for that particular job. That's our philosophy now. It always has been. It always will be"
Thrift's most important recent "construction project" just appeared on the scene. Harrison Michael Thrift was born March 16. Harrison joins an older brother and sister. Thompson has a boy and girl of his own.
Thrift laughes at the prospect of becoming a "multi-generational" firm.
"I don't know about that," Thrift said. " My children are nine, five and two weeks! [at the time of the interview]."
For now, young Harrison will grow up in a Terre Haute his daddy and uncle John have helped to rebuild.

Robert Flott can be reached at [email protected].
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Dozens of farmers readying wares for Terre Haute Farmers Market’s 2007 season
By Arthur E. Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Nikki and Scott Royer didn’t know what to do with the small family farm in Vermillion County after Nikki’s father died unexpectedly in 2000.

The farm, which is divided into two picturesque pastoral settings north of Clinton, has been in Nikki’s family, the Overpecks, since 1876.

Eventually, the couple decided to leave their jobs with the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and operate the small family farm themselves. They would run the farm without chemicals, massive livestock bins or other features of mass production agriculture. They would allow their livestock to roam freely in their pastures and they would offer fresh meats not for national distribution but to nearby customers.

“I love it up here,” Scott says looking out over the 170-acre rolling meadows of the “north pasture,” where cows could be seen grazing on a hilltop in the distance. Pfizer treated Scott well, he said, but he has never regretted his decision to start farming full-time.

The Royers are two of dozens of Wabash Valley small farmers who are selling to local customers through farmers markets and other outlets for fresh, locally raised or grown food. The Royers will begin selling their meats at the Terre Haute Farmers Market on Saturday, the first day of the market for the 2007 season.

“This is a place where business happens,” said Andrew Conner, indicating the Clabber Girl Festival Marketplace north of the corner of Ninth Street and Wabash Avenue in Terre Haute. Conner is executive director of Downtown Terre Haute Inc., which runs the Farmers Market.

Several hundred customers come to the market each Saturday, Conner said. There are usually 15-20 vendors selling fresh produce, meats and other items, he said.

A chance to get

“amazing stuff”

Terre Haute’s Farmers Market started as an every-other-weekend event in June 2005, Conner said. There were just two vendors when the market first opened, but now close to 30 vendors participate every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon throughout the season, which lasts until the last Saturday of October.

“Here’s a chance to get some amazing stuff,” said Aaron Warner, who grows vegetables, fruits and berries at a small “hobby farm” in southern Vigo County. He also keeps bees, allowing his garden to stay well pollinated and giving him the opportunity to sell fresh honey at the Terre Haute Farmers Market.

The berries, including blackberries, strawberries and blueberries that Warner grows sell “like crazy,” he said. They are usually sold out in the first hour of the market, he said.

Warner’s enthusiasm for growing fresh, chemical-free fruits and vegetables is obvious as he walks through his property pointing to pollinating bees he calls “my girls,” digging for worms, which he calls a gardener’s best friend, and eating fresh asparagus taken right out of the ground.

“I don’t put anything on my vegetables I wouldn’t put in my mouth,” Warner says, kneeling over some vegetable plants in his garden. He plans to participate in the Terre Haute Farmers Market at least every other weekend this year, he said.

A growing market

The Terre Haute Farmers Market is growing, said Andrea Lau, who, along with the other owners of L & A Farms near Elbridge in Illinois, was one of the original vendors at the market.

“It was just Saint Mary’s and us,” Lau said referring to the White Violet Center for Eco-Justice at St. Mary-of-the-Woods, a state-certified organic farmland that also operates its own Farmers Market and continues to participate in the Terre Haute market.

L & A Farms raises chickens for meat and eggs at its picturesque setting in southeastern Edgar County, Ill. Just down the road near a small creek, they also raise produce for sale at the market.

Andrea Lau, her husband Brian, and Kevin and Joyce Augustus operate L & A Farms. Their kids also help out along with other relatives, making the operation a real family business, something typical of many Terre Haute Farmers Market vendors.

“Family comes first,” said Warner, saying he allows his kids to eat anything in his garden they want. He never tells them they can’t eat fresh fruits and vegetables he might otherwise sell at the market. He also designates rows in his garden for his sons, William, 10, and Journey, 7, to grow what they want. Warner has also planted numerous berry bushes for his sons to harvest when they are older.

Not necessarily “organic”

Not only is the Farmers Market in Terre Haute growing, but such markets are a growing phenomenon all over the nation. Between 1994 and 2004, farmers markets grew over 111 percent in number across the country, according to a recent report in the Washington Post. The number of markets across the nation had reached nearly 4,000 by 2004 and there is little to indicate that number has stopped growing.

“People are voting with their food dollars,” said Nikki Royer. More and more people want to feel a connection to the land and want to know where their food was raised or grown, she said.

The consensus from participants in the Terre Haute Farmers Market interviewed for this article is that some of the food is a little more expensive than what you could find in a grocery store, but, they are quick to add, it is much fresher and was grown locally, often without any chemicals or antibiotics.

Many of the vendors at the market don’t use the word “organic” to describe what they sell because there are licensing laws – and paperwork – associated with what can and cannot be labeled “organic.” All of the vendors interviewed said they use natural, chemical-free growing and raising methods, but have not jumped through the hoops necessary to become “organic” farmers.

The cattle, pigs and sheep at the Royer farm, for instance, are all pasture-raised, antibiotic and hormone-free, Nikki and Scott Royer said. By keeping their livestock in a low-stress, clean environment, they said, they are very unlikely to need antibiotics in the first place.

“I think it makes a difference in the ultimate eating quality,” Scott Royer said of raising beef, lamb and pigs in pasture settings.

The Royers also are starting to raise 100 percent grass-fed cattle, something the Royers said enhances the flavor of beef and provides vitamins not found in grain-fed beef. Many of their customers have requested grass-fed beef, they said.

“Our vendors are very responsive to the customers,” Downtown Terre Haute Inc.’s Conner said. Talking directly to vendors allows customers to let them know what items they are looking for.

Giving the customers what they want

Not all items sold at the Farmers Market are more expensive than what you could find elsewhere, some of the participants said. For instance, Warner sells organic fertilizers for half the price it is available to customers shopping for it online, he said. And even some produce, such as rhubarb and spinach, sells for prices very similar to what you would find at a grocery store, Andrea Lau said.

But mostly, the people that sell and shop at the Terre Haute Farmers Market say they are there for fresh, chemical-free, locally grown meats and vegetables.

“There are all of these flavors out there we’ve been missing,” said Warner, speaking of Yukon Gold potatoes and other fresh produce he grows for the market. Most food Americans eat has traveled hundreds of miles before arriving at the local grocery store, he said. Food at the Terre Haute Farmers Market often was picked the same morning people buy it, Warner said.

“Very few people know what really fresh vegetables taste like,” Warner said.

Pasture-raised chicken meat is denser than most grocery store chicken that was not pasture raised, Andrea Lau said. It’s also less likely to be stringy, she said.

The beef and lamb sold by the Royers is “dry aged,” they said. This process, which takes two to three weeks, “makes a big difference in the taste,” Scott Royer said.

The sellers at the Terre Haute Farmers Markets are responding to what seems to be a growing demand for fresh, locally grown, chemical and hormone free meats and produce among many shoppers. The fact that sellers and producers meet face to face means vendors at the market are often told exactly what buyers are looking for, Andrea Royer said.

When the Royers first started selling meats at farmers markets, they tried selling in large quantities. They soon learned most buyers wanted smaller packages of individual servings, so they made the change.

“There’s nothing like talking to the people that actually eat the meat” we raise, Scott Royer said.

Customers at the Terre Haute Farmers Market are generally concerned that their food didn’t travel long distances to be sold and they are also concerned with how their food, especially meats, are raised.

“Usually it’s not all about saving money” for customers at the Farmers Market, Nikki Royer said. “We want the animals to have room to roam and exercise and have a clean environment,” she said, adding that is what their customers want as well.

Getting people


Another goal of the Terre Haute Farmers Market is to bring people downtown, Conner said. And it seems to be working. Shoppers at the market discover the Clabber Girl museum and other downtown attractions, he said.

“I think the whole situation brings business [downtown] and connects rural people with the city people,” Andrea Lau said. If the goal is to increase activity downtown, “I think it’s working,” she said.

Downtown Terre Haute Inc. is trying to get more entertainers to perform at the market to crease the fun, family atmosphere, Conner said. The market and other activities aimed at revitalizing the downtown are not designed to return to the “gold age of downtowns,” but rather find new ways to use existing downtowns and make them more attractive, Conner said.

Selling directly to customers is what the Royers wanted to do when they decided to leave Pfizer and start working their farm. They have only missed one market in three years, they said, and that was the day after their now 3-year-old twins were born.

“It’s nice talking with people about how good the meat we sell is,” Scott Royer said. If the customers think it could be better, they will tell you that, too, Nikki added.

The Terre Haute Farmers Market is a fun and, especially in the first hour, a busy place, Warner said. “It’s really nice” meeting so many people and selling fresh produce, fruits and honey, he said. “It’s fun.”

Arthur Foulkes can be contacted at (812) 231-4232 or [email protected].
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Terre Haute Developers Named Indiana Small Business Leaders of the Year

This award comes in great part because of T-T's development work downtown. Great job, guys!

Published: May 31, 2007 11:59 pm

Thompson-Thrift named Indiana Small Business Persons of 2007

By Arthur E. Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

John Thompson and Paul Thrift, founders of Thompson Thrift in Terre Haute, were named Indiana’s Small Business Persons of 2007 by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) in Washington, D.C.

“The award challenges us to live up to the standards we’ve set in the past and hopefully will continue to set,” said Paul Thrift at his company’s headquarters at Ninth Street and Wabash Avenue in Terre Haute on Thursday.

Thompson Thrift, a full-service real estate development and construction company, started in 1986 as a two-man operation when the two entrepreneurs were students at Indiana State University. They started in business by purchasing homes and buildings in need of renovation, fixing them up and selling them.

The company now has more than 120 employees, is doing business in several states and has an annual payroll of more than $6 million, Thrift said.

Thompson and Thrift say they owe their company’s success to the team of employees they have assembled.

“Our people have made us successful,” Thrift said.

The Terre Haute-based company represented Indiana at the SBA’s Small Business Week awards luncheon in Washington in late April. Winners from 49 other states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands were also at the luncheon.

“There were a lot of neat stories there,” Thompson said.

The SBA award came as a surprise, Thompson said; they did not even know they had been nominated, he said.

Many people believe Thompson Thrift works only on large-scale construction jobs because those are the jobs, such as the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Terre Haute, that receive the most media attention, Thrift said. But the company is geared for doing much smaller jobs as well, he said.

“We want small jobs. We are set up to service that size and type of client,” Thrift said.

Thompson and Thrift do not spend much time dwelling on past successes, and frankly, Thrift said, they have already put the 2007 SBA award behind them and are looking toward the future.

For now, at least, that future looks very bright, Thrift said. The commercial real estate market looks “as good as we’ve seen it,” he said. That’s true inside and outside Indiana, he said.

“We hope that doesn’t change any time soon,” he said.

Locally, the economic picture also looks good, Thrift said. Public and private building activity in Terre Haute, which is still where the largest share of the company’s business is done, is at a level they haven’t seen in their two decades in business, he said.

“People have taken notice [of Terre Haute] around the state,” Thrift said. In the past, people they would meet around the state used to give them “funny looks” or had no reaction at all when the owners of Thompson Thrift said their company was based in Terre Haute. Now, however, they are getting a lot of questions about all the activity, Thrift said.
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The NFL champion Indianapolis Colts are starting their summer training camp in Terre Haute again soon!

On the trail: Painted colts attracting admiring attention in Terre Haute
By Arthur E. Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — It may be an unusual sight for Terre Haute, people walking around downtown wearing summer clothes, snapping pictures and leading young children by the hands, looking — in short — like tourists.

But that’s what has been going on since the Sheldon Swope Art Museum’s “Horsing Around in Terre Haute” fund-raiser hit the sidewalks of the city and other parts of town in late June.

Several local businesses and organizations have sponsored fiberglass colts that have been decorated by Wabash Valley artists.

The 41/2-foot-tall colts are visible all around town and attracting admiring attention.

“I don’t think I’ve seen so much activity downtown,” said Mary Ann Michna, curator of the Swope Art Museum. “It’s bringing people to the city,” she said.

There are 30 fiberglass colts in total. The bulk of them are downtown, but many are outside the city at places such as the Terre Haute Heart Center, Union Hospital, Honey Creek Mall, the eastside Wal-Mart, Harmonious Hedgehog and Bunch Nurseries. “I think it’s just great,” said Ronnie Jeffers, who, with his wife, Sandie, had just finished snapping a picture of their granddaughter, Stella, in front of a colt on South Seventh Street. “It’s nice to see Terre Haute coming back,” Jeffers said.

Each of the colts has been designed by a local artist.

In some cases, sponsors provided their own artists. In other instances, the Swope selected designs, submitted by local artists, from which sponsors could choose.

Smith Barney, which sponsors a colt in front of its office at Fourth Street and Wabash Avenue, specifically requested local artist Becky Hochhalter to design the colt, titled “Greenback.” The colt is designed using images from a dollar bill, Hochhalter said.

“It was a lot of fun,” she said. To make it even more interesting, Hochhalter included some hard-to-find images, such as 18 horseshoes symbolizing Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning’s jersey number. There is also, just for fun, Hochhalter said, a parrot image hidden in the colt’s design. For some reason, kids can quickly spot the parrot while adults often can’t, she said.

Having a colt emblazoned with the Stars and Stripes outside the Old National Bank building at Seventh Street and Wabash Avenue has “created a bit of a buzz,” said Don Schroeder, region CEO and northwest region president for Old National Bank. Schroeder, who also sits on the board of the Swope Art Museum, has had to leave his office at least once to snap pictures of people who wanted to be photographed with the colt, he said.

“It’s great to see the enthusiasm,” he said.

Some people are seeing as many colts as they can, using a map provided by the Swope. Others are just walking around finding colts at random.

“It’s fun. It’s different,” said Steve Hardin, a reference/instruction librarian for Indiana State University. Hardin was out taking photos of downtown colts during his lunch hour Friday afternoon and had seen about 12 so far, he said.

Hardin said the colt outside Merrill Lynch on Fourth Street was interesting because it had an old-style stock ticker as a bridle.

“It also has bulls and dollar bills on it … I’m assuming there are no bears,” he said.

Several people have made special trips to the Harmonious Hedgehog south of town to see its sponsored colt, called “Summer Solstice,” said Lesley Wilson, who painted the colt and who works at the shop. One man brought his granddaughter to the store just to photograph her with the colt, she said.

A few of the colts come with 3-D features, such as one downtown that has a small train for a mane and a large black crow perched on its back.

Another colt with 3-D designs is at the eastside Wal-Mart. This colt, called “Colt goes to Camp,” has a backpack, small tennis shoes and a baseball cap.

“He’s a cool kid,” said JoAnne Perigo Fiscus, the artist who designed the camper colt. Perigo Fiscus, who is a member of the Wabash Valley Art Guild and an art teacher at Woodrow Wilson Middle School, has two sons so she was able to capture some of the look and feeling of a small boy going off to camp and what he would look like, if he were a colt, she said.

“I wanted him to have that sparkle,” Perigo Fiscus said.

Another Wabash Valley artist, Karen LeVan of Center Point, had her colt design, called “Colts Gone Wild,” selected by the Village Quarter. Her colt now stands outside the Village Quarter management offices next to a lawn jockey holding the colt by a bridle.

“I suppose he must have looked lonely,” LeVan said of her colt with a laugh.

The fiberglass colts are the centerpiece of a fund-raiser for the Swope Art Museum.

The image of a colt was selected because Terre Haute is home to the Indianapolis Colts training camp, Swope officials have said.

Area businesses and organizations had the opportunity to sponsor a colt for $2,000. For an additional $1,000, the business could purchase the colt; otherwise, the colts will be auctioned Sept. 8 at the ISU stadium. Only a few of the colts have been purchased by sponsors so far, the Swope’s Michna said.

“Working with the people at the Swope has been wonderful,” said Jackie Cossio, advertising and marketing director at Forrest Sherer Insurance downtown, where a colt titled “Smoky Cabin Fever” stands outside the business’s door. Customers and others have stopped to take pictures of the colt, which is designed with covered bridges and other “hometown” images, Cossio said.

Yzabel, an 8-year-old student at Community Christian School, is the third young child in a matter of minutes to be led by adults to a pair of colts at Seventh Street and Wabash Avenue on Friday afternoon. Her favorite colt, so far, was the ocean scene colt, titled, “Seahorse,” in front of First Financial Plaza downtown, she said.

While not necessarily a big fan of horses, Yzabel enjoys all the different colors on the colts, she said.

“It’s a natural attraction” to the colts, Michna said. People are making time to come to Terre Haute to see the different colts — in many cases seeing as many as they can in a single day. “It’s getting people out and around the city,” Michna said. “It’s almost like an Easter egg hunt.”

Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or at [email protected].
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Old July 9th, 2007, 12:02 AM   #137
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Could Terre Haute support a minor league baseball team?

Financial issues are major concern
By Todd Golden
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — If Field Of Dreams was made about baseball in Terre Haute, its most famous line wouldn’t have the same lyrical majesty that the beloved movie had.

“Build it … and we will come” constitutes celluloid lore from the mystical baseball film.

Terre Haute’s hopes for a minor league baseball team hinge on, “Fund it, renovate it … and they might come?”

Not quite the same. But that’s the reality that Terre Haute faces if minor league baseball is to return to a city that hasn’t hosted a minor league team since the early 1960s.

The Frontier League — a 12-team independent minor league circuit that stretches from Slippery Rock, Pa., to O’Fallon, Mo. — has been interested in Terre Haute for a long time. When Indiana State Director of Athletics Ron Prettyman arrived two years ago, he immediately began to court potential club owners as well as those interested in funding a Sycamore Field renovation.

Frontier League commissioner Bill Lee met with Prettyman and city officials two weeks ago regarding progress on these matters. It was the second meeting Lee has had with interested minor league parties in Terre Haute in a year.

It is believed that the Frontier League would be interested in moving one of its existing franchises to Terre Haute, though neither Prettyman or Lee would confirm it. Potential owners — none of whom have been publicly identified — are also believed to be considering investment in a franchise, contingent on an available facility.

And the stadium is where the heart of the matter lies as far as local minor league baseball. Lack of money to make renovations to Sycamore Field was cited by Prettyman as the main roadblock to minor league baseball in the Wabash Valley.

“Money ...” said Prettyman in one-word answer about the road block to Terre Haute minor league baseball. “We’re essentially really confident with in a possible partnership with the Frontier League that we could find an ownership group to work with. But our facility doesn’t lend themselves to minimum standards of the league.”

Unlike many other cities that lost minor league baseball in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Terre Haute did not keep its old minor league stadium intact. Memorial Stadium was a suitable home for Terre Haute baseball before cultural changes such as television and greater middle class mobility killed minor league baseball here and in many other similarly-sized cities.

Some Frontier League cities — most notably Evansville with Bosse Field — use the WPA Depression-era stadia that Terre Haute once had in Memorial Stadium, but that was long ago converted to football usage only.

Terre Haute is left with Sycamore Field — a facility that is middle-of-the-road quality-wise for Missouri Valley Conference baseball, but is well behind the curve for minor league baseball.

How far behind the curve? Prettyman estimates that $1 to 5.4 million dollars worth of renovations would need to made to Sycamore Field to make it viable for the Frontier League. Prettyman indicated that a laundry list of things would need to be done to Sycamore Field — including major renovations to the physical plant inside and outside the stadium (see graphic) to make it work.

“We need someone who would love to leave their legacy to the area and attach their name to such a project,” said Prettyman, who said the benefit to the university besides an improved facility would be the opportunity for ISU’s baseball team to have access to a professional team as well as internship opportunities for ISU students.

Lee hinted that Terre Haute might be an important enough market to temporarily lift some of its requirements it desires at Sycamore Field, but not without a long-term commitment in place to make renovations.

“Sometimes I think the league has to go out on a limb and try and groom a city for the league long-term. Maybe we go in a limited type of basis and try to do it, but I don’t know whether we’d do that or not, it’s up to our owners,” Lee said. “The league in some cases has to be flexible in its restrictions and guidelines. It would at least help if there’s a commitment to make improvements in place, but when you are doing something new in a new market, it’s ideal to put your best foot forward with all guns blazing.”

The mayor’s office has given minor league baseball moral support. The economic and cultural benefits of having a team would be a potential economic boost to the city.

“It’s the best possibility we’ve had yet,” said Pete Ciancone, Communications Director for the City of Terre Haute. “The city is interested in seeing what happens and is excited at the prospect.”

Barring an unlikely change of political winds from city government and among city residents, financial support to subsidize stadium renovations is not likely to come from city government.

Which leaves organizers dependent on the private sector. And it seems that the gulf between basic local interest in minor league baseball and real financial commitment needs to be bridged for minor league baseball to happen in Terre Haute.

“I’d agree with that. No matter how you cut it or slice it, a lot of it rotates around the dollar,” Lee said. “Once you get someone to pull the trigger on making a commitment, now you got some potential for some good things to happen. There’s always a silent majority that doesn’t really respond to anything more than basic interest in something like this, but once you get something going, people will be on board.”

But who will get it going? Prettyman said that the quest to get minor league baseball at Sycamore Field has involved a small group of dedicated people to this point. But despite only tacit support among the community at large, Prettyman remains confident it can happen.

“I believe we could have a minor league team here next year if we could find funding and I’m not discouraged by any means as long as we’re in discussions,” said Prettyman, who added the proviso that his athletic director duties will take more of his time as the fall sports season gets closer, and will lessen his time on minor league baseball.

Lee said the Frontier League will maintain interest in the city as long as there’s a chance someone or a group of people could bankroll it.

“It’s a nice market because of the geography, the size of the city, and it’s own media market which is very attractive,” Lee said. “I’ve looked at Terre Haute for many years. It’s been on our radar screen since at least the late 1990s, but its always been about getting the facility where it needs to be for us to be there.”

What needs to be done?

Sycamore Field would need to be renovated to bring minor league baseball to Terre Haute. Here’s a list of renovations that would have to be made to lure minor league baseball:

• Locker rooms with showers

• More bathrooms

• Larger and improved spectator areas with chairback seating

• A dressing room for umpires to dress

• A ticket office that could be accessed during off-hours.

• A covered batting cage area.

• Satellite training room.

• Upgrades to the existing press box or a new one.

The Frontier League

Here are the 12 franchises currently competing in the Frontier League

Evansville Otters

Chillicothe (Ohio) Paints

Rockford (Ill.) RiverHawks

Slippery Rock (Pa.) Sliders

Florence (Ky.) Freedom

Southern Illinois Miners (based in Marion, Ill.)

Gateway Grizzlies (based in Sauget, Ill.)

Traverse City (Mich.) Beach Bums

Kalamazoo (Mich.) Kings

Washington (Pa.) Wild Things

River City Rascals (based in O’Fallon, Mo.)

Windy City Thunderbolts (based in Crestwood, Ill.)
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Old August 12th, 2007, 06:03 PM   #138
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Published: August 11, 2007 11:40 pm

Historic 12 Points area struggling to survive

But some continue to see potential in the once-thriving area
By Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Terre Haute’s 12 Points neighborhood is like a little village all its own.

Called 12 Points because it is at the intersection of Lafayette Avenue, Maple Avenue and North 13th Street — creating three distinct intersections with four corners each — the area has long had its own feel and it continues to play an important role in Terre Haute’s social and economic landscape.

“I love it,” said longtime 12 Points business owner Cecil Tilford, who has operated Tilford’s Variety Store in 12 Points since 1968 and is known to some as the “mayor” of 12 Points. “It’s just like a small town,” he said.

Twelve Points was “hot” when Anita Parkhurst, who now co-owns a business in the neighborhood, was a young girl and would visit the area. Parkhurst, 50, remembers eating Coney dogs in 12 Points and buying candy at Tilford’s Variety Store, she said.

Yet 12 Points also is struggling to stay alive. A large number of vacant and sometimes condemned buildings dot the landscape. Outside several storefronts, the smell of burned wood and plastic from recent fires still lingers in the air.

“12 Points is just kind of a neglected area, unfortunately,” said Jay Jones, owner of the 12 Points Hotel and several other buildings in the area. Jones, who has been active in the neighborhood since 1998, is the landlord for a number of small business tenants and also is an advocate for keeping the historic feel of 12 Points, often using his own money to promote the cause.

Yet Jones, who told the Tribune-Star in 1998 that he hoped the neighborhood could evolve into something like Broad Ripple in Indianapolis, seems a little less optimistic today.

“There’s not a lot of incentive to invest up here,” Jones said. Some of the buildings are beautiful, but much of what he is doing to the historic buildings he owns are just “stop gap” measures, he said. “It’s usually a break-even proposition,” Jones said.

What might be

But Jones and others in 12 Points continue to see potential for much more than the neighborhood currently offers. Many business owners in the district believe that just a few new businesses are all that’s needed for a major breakthrough.

“This is a cool area and we’d like to see it rejuvenated,” said Neil Ward, owner of Medusa’s hair salon on the corner of Lafayette and Maple Avenues. Ward, who set up his hair salon inside the former 12 Points State Bank building two years ago, would like to see a coffee shop, an art gallery and even other hair salons move into the neighborhood.

“You have to make a destination,” Ward said. With a few new businesses, 12 Points “could be very cool,” he said.

People have been saying similar things about 12 Points, however, for several years.

A 1984 Tribune-Star article quoted a 12 Points business owner saying the neighborhood needed a fast-food restaurant to bring in more visitors. Even then some were speaking of the neighborhood’s “deterioration” and looking back several decades to find the district’s “heyday.”

“Sometimes I call it Jay’s folly,” Jones said of his efforts to restore the 12 Points Hotel and other buildings in the neighborhood. There are simply not enough businesses in the neighborhood anymore to maintain the buildings, he said. And the infrastructure, such as the sidewalks, needs a lot of work, he said.

Historic district

Jones and other members of the 12 Points Greater Northside Merchants Association worked recently to get the neighborhood listed on the state and national registers of historic places, something that lends a little prestige to the area, Jones said.

The district also now can receive charitable contributions as a 501(c)(3) organization, Jones said.

But the historic designation does nothing to prevent older buildings from being torn down or changed, Jones said. He has tried hard to bring historic buildings in the neighborhood back to their original looks, he said.

“When we lose a historic building, that’s the end of that story,” Jones said.

Old buildings with a lot of historic character are a fairly common feature in 12 Points.

Apart from the hotel, the 12 Points State Bank building, which later became Merchants Bank and then Old National, there is another historic bank building at 13th and Maple, where Parkhurst’s Sewing Lounge is now. She and the business’s co-owner, Denny Thompson Jr., said they were attracted to the location by the inside of the old building, which includes a bank vault, now used as a fitting room.

“Everyone wants to talk about the vault,” Parkhurst said.

In addition to fixing up his buildings, Jones also worked to restore a historic Coca Cola advertisement on the brick exterior wall of the 12 Points Hotel facing Maple Avenue. He and others worked to make the sign look just as it did more than 50 years ago, he said.

A good place to go

Many people remember when 12 Points was a very active and vibrant part of Terre Haute.

Carolyn Dreher Burke, who grew up a few blocks from 12 Points in the 1940s and ’50s, remembers watching World War II news reels at the Swan and Garfield movie theaters that served 12 Points. She also remembers shopping at West’s Drug Store on Lafayette, window shopping at Mi-Lady’s Dress Shop on Maple Avenue and getting grilled cheese sandwiches and cold Cokes at the Steak ’n Shake.

Burke also remembers when the streets of 12 Points would be closed each year for a fall festival, complete with rides.

“It was just a good place to go,” Burke said. Every Friday night, she and other kids from the area would meet at the movie theater, sit in sections according to which school they attended and enjoy the shows. “It was always a lot of fun,” she said.

The 12 Points Hotel also has a colorful past.

For many years, the hotel was operated by Eddie Gosnell, husband of Terre Haute’s famous Madame Brown and one of the city’s “Red Light District” kingpins, according to a history of the district by local historian Mike McCormick.

At least two or three murders took place in the hotel, Jones said. The most recent murder, in the mid-1970s, remains unsolved.

Low rent, high traffic

The 12 Points area still serves an important purpose in Terre Haute’s economy.

Because of its high level of traffic and low rents, the district is a perfect place for small business entrepreneurs to set up shop on a small budget.

Many of these businesses come and go, but others such as Thomas Funeral Home have been a fixture in the neighborhood for decades.

“The store was perfect,” said Rich Curtis, owner of The Old Piano Shop at 1277 Lafayette. Curtis set up shop six years ago and business has been very good over the years, he said, adding that relatively low rents originally drew him to 12 Points.

“This is a good area, a busy area,” said Amy Lenges, owner of Amy’s Corner Mall at 1239 Lafayette. Lenges, whose father owned Mickey’s Corner on Maple Avenue in 12 Points for several decades, opened her shop just three months ago. “So far, I love it,” Lenges said.

Business also has been good — although for a much longer time — for Don Vrabic, owner of Vrabic Car Center on the corner of 13th and Lafayette. Vrabic has been working in 12 Points since 1954 and remembers well when Lafayette Avenue was U.S. 41.

In those days, there were four gasoline stations just at each corner of his intersection, Vrabic said.

Another 12 Points landmark, A Ring Brings Pizza on Lafayette Avenue, has been doing business since 1963, said manager Marty Patterson. The pizza shop’s sign, which advertises the restaurant’s phone number as both 232-5951 and C-5951, harkens back to an earlier time.

“We didn’t have the heart to change the sign,” Patterson said.

Despite losing U.S. 41, 12 Points continues to see a lot of automobile traffic. A new Circle K gas station and convenience store on Lafayette Avenue resembles a beehive during most of the day and another new, large-scale business, CVS Pharmacy, also sees considerable traffic.

Around 20,000 cars travel Lafayette Avenue each day, Curtis said.

“The traffic is excellent here,” said Pamela Blade, owner of Pamela’s Wigs and Hair Boutique on Lafayette. Much of her business comes from people just passing by, she said.

Here to stay

In addition to being an affordable place to start a small business, 12 Points still has its own charm and character. A small park with a historic marker in the middle of the neighborhood helps remind people of the area’s past and creates a little “green space” in an otherwise urban setting.

“I enjoy being here tremendously,” Blade said. “The people on this side of town are so nice,” she said.

And there are signs things may be picking up.

For the first time in six years, Curtis said, all of the storefronts in the 12 Points Hotel building are rented.

“Business is getting better every day,” Parkhurst said of business at her Sewing Shop.

Tilford agrees that, while business is still a “struggle” sometimes, he enjoys the area and is not ready to quit anytime soon.

“I like it up here,” Tilford said. “I’m here to stay.”

Still, 12 Points, which offers no sit-down restaurants other than A Ring Brings Pizza, or other attractions for casual foot traffic, has a long way to go to become another Broad Ripple or the kind of artistic shopping area many people have wanted to see for decades.

Yet, with a few dedicated business owners and a small-town feel, in addition to affordable rents, the area that was the first suburban shopping district in Terre Haute in the early 1900s remains its own unique part of town with a clear vision and hope for the future.

Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or [email protected].
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Old August 12th, 2007, 06:04 PM   #139
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August 12, 2007

Super impact
Terre Haute and its merchants get a boost as fans from across the country arrive to glimpse the defending Super Bowl champion Colts
By Dana Knight
[email protected]
August 12, 2007

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Alvaro Hernandez's family trekked thousands of miles to Terre Haute from California -- and it wasn't just to see relatives elsewhere in Indiana.
So why make the trip? For the blue, of course.
"We just decided it was a great idea to come and see the Super Bowl champs," said Hernandez, as he and his family sat in scorching heat last week just to watch the Indianapolis Colts practice.
Not always a destination draw for visitors from across the country, this city of 60,000 is getting more than its fair share of out-of- towners as the Colts conduct their eighth training camp at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
The city, its retailers, restaurants and hotels are reaping the benefits of fans traveling from as far away as Texas, Maryland, California, Georgia, Tennessee and Florida just to catch a glimpse of a bunch of sweaty guys on a practice field.
So what's different this year? These sweaty guys are the champions.
"It's just amazing. The scope of this camp is bigger than all the previous seven years combined," said David Patterson, executive director of the Terre Haute Convention & Visitors Bureau. "The cachet of winning the Super Bowl has just taken this place by storm, no question."
Terre Haute's Best Western Inn & Suites was booked with Colts fans this weekend, and business during this year's training camp is double what it was a year ago, said general manager Linda Hammond.
"Last year there was a little bit of interest. This year? It is absolutely crazy," she said.
The draw to Terre Haute is just one example of what an impact a Super Bowl win can have. Reebok says Colts merchandise is flying off the shelves with sales up 17 percent in July compared with a year ago. And the Colts' hometown of Indianapolis is getting visits from fans nationwide who just want a peek at the place Peyton Manning calls home.
The first day of training camp at Rose-Hulman drew 500 more fans than in 2006. As of Tuesday, as many as 15,000 visitors had attended a practice, with 12 days left. Last year, 20,000 people visited during the entire camp.
"We've seen a pretty good influx of people from around the country," said Craig Kelley, spokesman for the Colts.
Crystalyn Huegen drove from St. Louis to watch the team practice. The stay-at-home mom left her two kids and husband behind, rented a hotel room and stayed for two days of camp.
"I'm a very die-hard fan," said Hagen. "I live in Ramsville so I catch a little flak, but I wanted to see my Colts."
Friends of Colts' coach Tony Dungy also have visited from Tampa. A group of Colts fans from Wisconsin made the trip. And on a recent day, a family from Dallas sat in a Starbucks in Terre Haute waiting for the 3:30 p.m. practice.
"We aren't going to miss a chance to see the Super Bowl champs this up-close-and- personal," said Harvey Ballard. "I'd never heard of Terre Haute, but now boy do I know where it is and what it's all about."
The Colts' camp is one of the biggest sports draws for this city since 1979 when future NBA star Larry Bird led Indiana State University's basketball team to a dream season that ended one win shy of the national championship.
Located about 75 miles southwest of Indianapolis on I-70, Terre Haute also spawned the Hulman-George family, owners of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Clabber Girl baking powder company.
And for another week, the Super Bowl champs will make it their town, too, giving restaurants, hotels and retailers a boost of excitement.
Many businesses in a city the size of Terre Haute are guaranteed an economic benefit when thousands of visitors arrive over the course of a month, said Christian End, an assistant professor at Xavier University who studies the economic impact of sports and fan behavior.
"The increased interest in food sales, the Colts memorabilia, the retailers are definitely going to feel it," End said.
Mark E. Nasser, who owns Pacesetter Sports, a small sporting goods store on U.S. 41 in Terre Haute, has seen customers from across the country buying Colts merchandise in his shop. There was the father from Baltimore who took his two sons to the store.
"The Colts have this squeaky-clean image, and he wants his sons to be a part of that," said Nasser.
Pacesetter doesn't have much Colts stuff left. In fact, as Nasser went to show where he thought a Colts cap would be on the shelves, none were left.
"Oops, we're sold out," he said. "We've sold so much Colts stuff it's crazy."
At Texas Roadhouse, kitchen coordinator Bob St. Clair was beaming about a visitor to the restaurant: Peyton Manning. The quarterback appeared after practice last week and ordered a pork chop and loaded baked potato.
"It just seems like I've seen a lot more people coming in this year," St. Clair said.
In the parking lot of the Coffee Cup Family Restaurant, Madeline Short, decked out in a Manning jersey, was headed to the afternoon practice on Tuesday.
"I'm just so in love with the Colts," said the Virginia resident. "I had a few days vacation and thought, 'Why not?' "
Colts fever seems to be catching on nationwide. Season tickets are, of course, sold out -- with a waiting list. And the Colts home of Indianapolis is noticing the same sort of draw, as people stop in just to see the RCA Dome.
"People are coming through town who want a glimpse of the end zone where Joseph Addai took that diving catch that led us to the AFC championship game," said Bob Schultz, spokesman for the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association.
But for a chance to see the Colts live and in person, lots of people are heading to Terre Haute.
Dawn Conrad of Evansville traveled to training camp last week with her mom, Jackie Arman, and children, Randi and Cory.
"I usually try to go to at least one game every year," said Conrad. "But the better and better they get, the harder it is to get a ticket. This was our chance to see the Super Bowl champs."
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Old August 12th, 2007, 06:05 PM   #140
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Published: August 11, 2007 11:37 pm

Parks department working to finalize skate park plans
By Austin Arceo
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A skate park still is expected to be created this fall, a city official said Friday.

The Terre Haute Parks and Recreation Department and Parks and Recreation Board have been working to finalize the plans for the park, department superintendent Greg Ruark said. The board’s projected $300,000 will only pay for the main bowl-shaped structure and part of a second, accompanying bowl-shaped structure park officials want in the first phase of the project, he said.

The city is researching funding for that subsequent structure. The skate park, a structure specifically designed for people to ride and perform skateboard stunts, will be built in Voorhees Park.

“What we’re hoping is to be able to build both sections simultaneously,” Ruark said, “and that’s what’s making it come in slightly over budget.”

The company designing the skate park can schedule the city’s project for construction about three weeks after designs are finalized, Ruark said.

The Parks Department hopes to receive help from local groups and volunteers to do some work, such as laying pipes and creating sidewalks, to help save money on the overall project.

“Every dollar that we can get in-kind is a dollar we can spend in building a bigger skate park,” said Richard Shagley, a Parks Board member working with Ruark to finalize the deal.

The project initially was part of the department’s $4 million capital improvements plan, which included several million dollars for a new aquatic facility.

The plan was postponed, which led the Parks Board to create the skate park as an independent project. Money already in the department’s budget will help repay a loan taken out for the project.

Shagley anticipates a contract being signed this week. Construction “should be complete by Halloween,” he added.

“My guess is the kids will utilize it even if it’s cold” outside, he said.

Austin Arceo can be reached at (812) 231-4214 or [email protected].
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