Students learn military lesson

Mike Margeson teaches history to North Montgomery High School students. On Wednesday, Margeson, along with other chaperones, traveled with the school’s juniors and seniors to the Ropkey Armor Museum where students were taught about life as a soldier today and in the past. Margeson said his students always enjoy the trip to the museum.

“This is valuable to the students because they learn about options after graduation,” Margeson said. “Students get to talk to people who are out in the field doing some amazing things. It does help the students make connections with history. It is fun because now it is right in front of you.”

The museum has opened its doors to the students every other year for the past eight years as part of the school corporation’s Bratton Initiative. The museum staff, owners and members of the Armed Services were on hand to discuss military life with students. 

This year special guest Adjutant General of the Indiana National Guard, Maj. Gen. Courtney P. Carr, joined the students. Carr spoke about the importance of the National Guard, which is the fourth largest state guard in the nation.

Skip Warvel, who is employed by the museum, has been welcoming the North Montgomery students since the program began eight years ago. He said having the top general in the Indiana Guard was an honor.

“It was impressive to have the AG here, although I am not sure they kids understood how big of a deal that was to have him here,” he said. “For me it was great to have him here because he told me he has a background with tanks.”

Warvel believes the visit by the students is important.

“I think it is great to have the young kids here,” Warvel said. “They learn something about the real history. It is easy to read it in a book, but to actually get to talk to someone who has served is something to take with you. We hope they enjoy it. For kids it helps because they can touch and interact with a lot of old military stuff.”

The North Montgomery students engaged themselves not only in seeing the museums displays up close, but also by talking with several members of the Indiana National Guard and a representative from the Air Force.  Several students commented on the importance of learning about history after visiting the museum.

Junior Taylor Nine, whose grandfather served in World War II, said the day was well worth it.

“There is a lot to know and to learn at this place,” Nine said. “Seeing this place is important to make connections. It tells us what happened in the past. The men and women who used the things in this museum made us what we are today.”

Isaac Fruits also was impressed with the equipment housed at the museum.

“Seeing this stuff is cool,” he said. “This is cool so we can see how things were used. We don’t get to see things like this very often. We know what technology is used today, but it is cool to see what technology they had to use back then. This trip was well worth it.”

Indiana National Guard Staff Sargent Garett Whitely helped organize the event.

“I thought the kids responded very well and I hope they received some understanding of what we do,” Whitely said. “The National Guard has a duty to our state and we also have our federal mission where we can be sent oversees. I thought the kids were receptive.”

Retired Indiana Guardsman and Montgomery County Council member Richard Chastain attended the event. He was impressed with the students and how receptive they were.

“I am impressed with the kids because they were so attentive,” Chastain said. “They were a solid group of people.”

Students also had one more experience. For lunch, they were given military MRE’s, or meals ready to eat on the field. Surprisingly, even the meals got high remarks from students.

“The meals are better than school food and the diversity in the packages is interesting,” Lauren Odle said. “You would never think the food would be so similar as to what we have in the states. This trip helps you understand the environment our soldiers are fighting in today and it gives you a better idea how a soldiers life is on the battle front.”

CEL&P open house celebrates 125 years

Crawfordsville streets were lit up 125 years ago, making them part of the first electric municipality in the state. Crawfordsville Electric Light & Power still provides electricity today to city residents, and the company will celebrate with an open house Friday.

CEL&P Manager Phil Goode, who started with the company as a lineman and rose through the ranks, is proud to be a part of the history-making electric company.

“In 1890 Crawfordsville became the first city in Indiana to have its own electric company,” Goode said. “We were the first city to have its own power plant and the second city to have street lights. Today, we pride ourselves that we have provided our city with electricity for 125 years and we keep doing the things to help us improve our service.”

“Think about it. Crawfordsville was living in the dark,” Goode said. “People went to bed when it was dark. When we added street lights it extended the commerce for the city. It was a major economic development project.”

Goode credited Wabash College professors in helping to peak interest in electricity as a power source in Crawfordsville.

“They helped lead the way when in the 1880-1990’s they were experimenting with electrical lighting,” Goode said. “They had what was called a dynamo, which is a direct current generator. In 1889 these professors had a powerful light that could be seen for miles away and people came from all over to see it. I am sure that got people in Crawfordsville thinking about the benefits of electricity.”

It did not take long for local residents to realize they could power their homes with electricity. Goode said the first method of payment for electricity was through the use of coin operated meters before moving on to other forms of counting usage.

“People would put coins into a meter when they wanted lights,” Goode said. “The company would go around and take the coins out of the boxes and that is how people paid for their electricity. Later people were charged a flat fee for each fixture in the house.”

The next step for Crawfordsville was to build its own power plant along the banks of Sugar Creek. The plant would remain in operation until CEL&P sold the operation in 2013. 

“Selling the plant was big for us,” Goode said. “It got us out of burning coal and now we have more funds to put into upgrading infrastructure.”

Today, CEL&P has 42 employees and is an original member of the Indiana Municipal Power Agency, a wholesale electric distributor. Crawfordsville became a member of IMPA when it formed in 1980. Recently, IMPA opened a four megawatt solar park that will generate electricity to be used within the city.  

The open house will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday at utility office, 808 Lafayette Road. Mayor Todd Barton will read a proclamation at 9 a.m. concerning the company’s 125th anniversary. A ribbon cutting marking the event will immediately follow his comments.

The public is invited to attend the event and will be given the opportunity to tour CEL&P and talk to employees. IMPA officials also will be on hand. There will be snacks and giveaways during the celebration.

“We want people to come out and celebrate with us,” Goode said. “We will celebrate our history and the promising future for CEL&P.”

‘Pied Piper of Poetry’ visits local elementary schools

Students from Hoover and Nicholson elementary schools will be getting their creative juices flowing this week as they spend time with visiting author Barry Lansky.

Lansky, a children’s poet and author, began at Hoover on Tuesday with a whole-school assembly. The rest of the afternoon consisted of small group workshops with two classes at a time. The workshops will continue at Hoover today and then Lansky will spend Thursday at Nicholson.

Hoover’s media specialist, Jacinda Smith, said that in the age of standardized testing, it’s nice for students to spend time simply being creative.

Though he’s also known for his baby name books that have sold more than seven million copies, it’s Lansky’s humorous poems that have caused some of his followers to give him the title “King of Giggle Poetry.”

There were certainly a lot of giggles during the workshops on Tuesday.

“The students at this school are not only well-mannered and attentive,” Lansky said, “but I have managed to illicit a creative response from them that surprised me in a really good way.”

Lansky and the students worked on creating rhyming poems about various topics. Before lunch, the students created an eight-stanza poem about Oreos that kept getting stranger the longer it got.

“They were into it!” Lansky said. “I couldn’t stop them! It was like a flood that got started. Their enthusiasm and excitement was really great.”

Students would chime in when they thought of a new idea or a new rhyme that would work well for their poem.

“I loved coming up with parts for the poem,” said student Maya Eubank. “It was kind of hard and kind of easy, but ... I love poetry.”

Lansky thought students would simply give him plot ideas for the poem; he wasn’t expecting them to create lines by themselves.

“I was thinking when he was talking,” student Edgar Andrade said. “I kept raising my hand like crazy because I had new ideas.”

Lansky visits schools to promote his books. Some of the teachers buy the books for their classroom and use them throughout the year. Some books are also donated by Lansky to the schools’ libraries.

However, he also sees his tours as a way to help, encourage and teach students across the country. He sees himself as a “pied piper” who teaches students his craft in hopes some of them will follow in his footsteps one day.

Iconic Lyons Music sign removed

An iconic sign was lowered from its long-time, downtown perch. On Tuesday, the Lyons Music sign was removed from the front of 210 N. Green St., not to be discarded, but to be made to turn on again.

The plan is to have Phantom Neon Signs and Graphics restore the piece. Once in working order, the sign will be placed on display at the Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County.

Bernard and Robin Thompson, who bought the building that formerly housed the music store, and most recently a sewing machine shop, understood the sign represented many memories centered around music for many local residents. Many people remember buying instruments, instrument accessories and sheet music at the store.

“When we bought the building I told my husband that this sign means a lot to the people in the Crawfordsville area,” Robin said. “It hit me that we should give it to the Carnegie Museum. Looking down at the sign from the upstairs apartment we could tell it was in good shape considering how old it is.”

Crawfordsville Main Street board member Becky Hurt watched as the sign was lowered to the ground. She is happy the sign is being saved.

“I think this is marvelous that Phantom Neon can save this sign,” Hurt said. “And then, to be able to see it light up again at the museum is wonderful. I am so thankful the Thompsons are saving it and donating it for all to enjoy again. I remember having the Strand Theater sign all lit up and the Lyons Music sign lit up right on the same street. Lyons Music Store had the best selection of sheet music that you would find anywhere.”

Robin, who also is a Crawfordsville Main Street board member, has memories of taking music lessons inside the store.

“When I was a student at Tuttle Middle School we would meet our music director, Connie Meek, at Lyons Music Store,” Robin said. “We would work on our musical pieces in preparation for the contests at DePauw University.”

Taking down the sign down drew a lot of attention. Many people stopped to take photos on their phones. One motorist in particular stopped the vehicle and jumped out to find out what was going one. The man was Crawfordsville resident Rick Lyon. He asked what was going to happen to the sign, and was relieved to learn it would have a new home at the museum.

“My dad’s cousin owned the store, and if the sign was going to be junked, I was going to take it to save it,” he said. “I am thrilled with the plan that will see the sign end up in the museum. That is just great.”

The building will soon house a bakery, Maxine’s on Green. It will specialize in sweet baked goods.

Men set to model ‘Bras for a Cause’

Every October, players and cheerleaders in the National Football League get a new, pink look to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This Saturday, members from Wabash College’s Beta Theta Pi fraternity also will get a new look for the third annual Bras for a Cause.

The men will model bras designed by local artists and will be up for auction during the event, which will take 6-11 p.m. Saturday at the Crawfordsville Country Club, 3272 Country Club Road.


“They’ve been on board every year,” said Missie Bickel who began Bras for a Cause. She said fraternity members model the bras by strutting around the room, which is most people’s favorite part of the event. The past two years, people have gotten into bidding wars, which she hopes happens again.

Throughout the rest of the event, there also will be a silent auction, raffles and games.

Bickel tries to do something new for the event each year, so this year, organizers are having a wine pull. For $10, participants will get to choose any bottle of wine from the many different kinds that were donated by local companies, some of which may cost up to $75 in stores.

Bras for a Cause, with the theme “Peace, Love, Cure” this year, is a fundraiser benefiting the FAITH Alliance Fund through the Montgomery County Free Clinic. All proceeds raised during the event will go to FAITH Alliance and stay in Montgomery County.

“I am a three-year cancer survivor,” Bickel said, “and I just wanted to find a way to give back.”

Even though she is still in treatment, Bickel said so many people have supported her and prayed for her. She wanted to start Bras for a Cause to raise money and awareness.

Men wearing bras instead of suits and ties or button-up shirts puts a much different spin on fundraisers, which was Bickel’s goal.

Admission to Bras for a Cause is free and open to the public.