The 40 who died

Thomas Deitemeyer was a quiet young man who loved hunting and fishing.

He worked at the Kemper Cabinet plant in Richmond before joining the U.S. Army in 1966.

He didn’t want to go to Vietnam, his mother Evelyn Deitemeyer said in 1990, but he tried to calm her fears by telling her, “I’ll only be over there for a year.”

He died there Feb. 12, 1967, 11 days short of his 21st birthday. He was a platoon leader, walking patrol in the Mekong Delta when one of the men walking behind him stepped on a land mine. Deitemeyer and several other soldiers were killed.

Today, his name is listed on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., Panel 15E Line 019, and on The Wall That Heals that opens Wednesday in Richmond.

img_0903-copyDeitemeyer was one of the 40 men from Wayne County killed in Vietnam. He, in many ways, is representative of those who died in that far away war in that far away land.

They were young, good looking men, trusted sons, loving brothers, husbands, cousins and classmates, full of energy and purpose. Futures were bright in those days as young men thought of cars and girls, high school graduation and landing good jobs.

Clothing was going mod, music morphing from Motown and surf tunes to psychedelic. Manufacturing was still booming and factory jobs were plentiful, but there was this distant war and a chance to serve and see the world.

Most understood little of the politics that surrounded Vietnam. Many could not find it on a map. But they knew this war was expanding, communism must be stopped, and they knew their country needed them.

Most were just anxious and proud to serve.

PFC Darrell Lee Covington attended Short High School in Liberty and was a 1968 Richmond High School graduate. He worked at Johns-Manville after graduation until he enlisted in the Marine Corps. He was killed in fighting near An Hoa in South Vietnam June 9, 1969. He was 19 years old.

These men had many things in common. One was that their parents really never got over the loss. Covington’s father, Lee Covington of Richmond, wrote a poem to his son, which was published in a Johns-Manville newsletter.

In a short excerpt, his father wrote

“He was full of life and he lived it well,

But he loved his country more than tongue can tell.

Yes, his life was short with its laughter and pain

But I know that someday we will meet again.”

Covington’s name is at Panel 23W Line 188.

Robert Person worked as a machine operator at NATCO before being drafted into the U.S. Army. He was walking patrol when he stepped on a land mine. He died three days later, Sept. 11, 1969.

“He was a very good son,” his mother, Mary Louise Person, said in 1990. “But he never talked about his experiences over there in his letters. In his last letter he said he was going out in the field for a couple of days and he would be right back. But he never came back.”

Person’s name is at Panel 18W Line 084.

Most didn’t talk about it in their letters, the awful things they saw and did. They did their jobs until the day they died. Most of those returning also didn’t talk about it. That’s why bringing the Wall back to Richmond every five years or so is so important.

They served, and died, as young men, fearless and full of enthusiasm, brimming with patriotism. Twenty-six of them died during the war’s most brutal years, 1967-1969. Most were 21 or younger.

David Downing was a standout football and basketball player and wrestler at Centerville High School. A trophy honoring the school’s best all around student athlete is still given in his name. It honors on-field heroics as well as classroom performance and citizenship.

Downing was killed by a booby trap during Operation Junction City, a massive U.S. operation near the Vietnamese-Cambodian border March 11, 1967. It was the largest U.S. airborne operation since World War 2. He was 21 years old.

In 1990, his father, Raymond Downing, said he felt it the instant his son was killed. He said he felt it in his heart. David Downing’s name is at Panel 16E Line 057.

Former Palladium-Item photographer Steve Koger served in Vietnam in 1969. So did his friend Danny Sinnott. Both had worked in the PI mailroom before joining the military.

Koger was wounded in fighting near Chu Lai on June 13, 1969. He was sent to a hospital in the rear for a month to recuperate. When he returned his company commander told him they had lost one man in Koger’s absence.

It wasn’t until weeks later when Koger received a back copy of the Palladium that he learned that that one soldier was Sinnott.

“It was real hard,” Koger said in 1990. “For a while after that I thought maybe if I hadn’t been hit or if I had come back a couple of weeks early maybe he wouldn’t be dead. Maybe something else would have happened.

“But in reality there’s probably nothing I could have done,” he said.

Danny Sinnott’s name can be found at Panel 21W Line 049.

That’s war. Nothing is fair. The good die young. Every one of the 40 has a story, all sad. Young men fighting the good fight, chewed up by the meat grinder of a distant war.

Regernaild Webster was not from Richmond, but he lived here for several years while working at Richmond Perfect Circle Division of Dana Corporation. He was murdered in Phuoc Long Province in South Vietnam Dec. 27, 1969. Military records do not indicate if his murderer was ever caught.

But Webster’s image lives on in Richmond history. He is pictured in a famous photograph as one of several young men who volunteered and fought fires in downtown Richmond after a massive explosion April 6, 1968. His name is at Pane 15W Line 100.

Steven Wright of Centerville was a conscientious objector and served as a medic in the war. His father was a CO in World War II as was his grandfather in World War I. In a letter home, he wrote “I personally dragged my platoon sergeant’s body through 50 feet of water so he could be sent home. He was dead from a bullet hole in the back of his head. I know I would not want to be left behind for the VC, dead or alive.”

Wright died from small arms fire while aiding comrades during combat operations in Dinh Tuong Province July 9, 1968. His name can be found on Panel 52W Line 005.

Heroes all:

*Tommy Hofer (Panel 27W Line 049) of Richmond enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 1968. He was shot and killed by a sniper only three weeks after arriving Vietnam and was buried the day before his 19th birthday.

*Karl Klute (Panel 06E Line 007), a pilot and daredevil type, volunteered for Vietnam in the hopes of one day qualifying for the astronaut program. He died piloting his F-100 jet during a strafing run against the Viet Cong March 14, 1966.

*Kenneth Musselman tried to talk his son Harold (Panel 30W Line 021) out of going to Vietnam. Harold planned to follow his brother Robert (Panel 28E Line 069) to Southeast Asia. “I tried to talk him out of it but it didn’t pan out,” Kenneth said in 1990. “They were darn good boys and I think about ‘em every day.”

Robert Musselman was 25 when he died Oct. 25, 1967. Harold Musselman was 19 when he died March 3, 1969.

*Cary Miller died Oct. 6, 1969. In August, eight members of his former unit in Vietnam, returned to Richmond for the sixth time to honor his memory. “He will never be forgotten,” said Linda Retter, the woman Cary planned to wed when he came back from overseas.

Long wars yield long lists of war dead and tear apart towns like Richmond. They kill young men and leave long lines of grieving parents, relatives and friends.

Still, a country that honors its fallen is a great nation, one that will remember and learn from its past. When these 40 men died, a little piece of the community died with them. We rebuild our lives and rebuild our community by honoring that tragic loss.

They are gone now but, thanks to the veterans who live on, who build memorials in Washington and Richmond, they are remembered. And thanks to those veterans and their families, The Wall That Heals will let us remember again.

Wayne County casualties included:

  • Curtis Lamarr Foster
  • Jon David Vannatta
  • Karl Edwin Klute
  • Jesse Floyd Wages
  • Burnie Harris
  • Terry Lee Wiles
  • Thomas Paul Deitemeyer
  • David Allen Downing
  • Donald Ray Rybolt
  • Herman Ray Cull
  • Thomas Clayton Benge
  • Teri Leigh Hines
  • Eddie James Allen
  • Robert Eugene Musselman
  • Terry Richard Clark
  • Jack Wayne Miller
  • Conrad E. Ross
  • Larry Robert McKinney
  • Ronald Lloyd Frazer
  • Stephen Louis Wright
  • Charles Vernon Firth
  • Raymond T. Conway
  • Thomas Herschal Schneider
  • David Joe Stansbury
  • Robert John Kuhlman, Jr.
  • Harold Earl Musselman
  • Joseph Walter Wysong
  • Thomas Edward Hofer
  • Darrell Lee Covington
  • Regernaild Webster
  • Daniel Bernard Sinnott
  • Billy Joe Caudill
  • Robert Lee Person
  • Cary Duane Miller
  • David Allen Hockett
  • Robert Kenneth Cole
  • Harry Thomas Henthorn
  • Gerald Vincent VanWinkle
  • Robert Lee Sowers
  • Jerry Duane Vance

Vietnam: A little background

vietnamOkay, so here’s a short (I hope) history lesson about the Vietnam War in advance of The Wall That Heals, the traveling Vietnam Wall, that is coming to Richmond Sept. 22-25.

I hope they teach this in schools but I wonder. And I hope if you are reading this you will share it with all those born after 1975 to provide them with some perspective.

Anyway, here goes.

The Vietnam War (it is widely accepted) lasted from Nov. 1, 1955 to April 30, 1975, though that depends on your definition of the war. Some argue that the war started Sept. 2, 1945 when Ho Chi Minh, a nationalist and eventually a community leader of North Vietnam, declared Vietnam independent of French control.

The U.S. government said the “Vietnam Era” lasted from Aug. 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975. U.S. front line troops fought in Vietnam for eight years from March 1965 to March 1973.

Okay, that’s confusing. But I hope you get the idea.

The war centered around Vietnamese efforts to oust the French from their country, eventually leading to the belief among many that the fighting was part of a worldwide plot by communists to take over Southeast Asia and later the world. The concept was that Southeast Asian countries would fall to the communists like dominoes, hence the Domino Theory.

Again, confusing and based on perspective, but we know the North Vietnamese and their Viet Cong counterparts in South Vietnam were supported by Russia, China and other communist countries and the South Vietnamese were supported by the U.S., South Korea, Australia, the Philippines and other “free world” countries.

So let’s stick to the facts of U.S. involvement. Here goes:

From Jan. 1, 1965 to March 28, 1973, 3.4 million U.S. military personnel served in the Southeast Asian Theater (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, flight crews based in Thailand and sailors in adjacent South China Sea waters). Another 50,000 served there from 1960 through ’64, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Website VA Stats.

That Website reported that Vietnam veterans represented 9.7 percent of their generation.

Almost 2.6 million U.S. military personnel served in the borders of South Vietnam. Of those, 1 million to 1.6 million either fought in combat, provided close support or were at least fairly regularly exposed to enemy attack.

Of those, 7,484 women served in Vietnam, 6,250 as nurses. The U.S. troop strength in Vietnam hit a high of 543,482 on April 30, 1969.

The Wall That Heals is a replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. At its dedication in 1982, the Wall (as it is known) included the names of 57,939 U.S. soldiers, sailors, Marines and air force personnel killed in Vietnam. That number grew to 58,286 by Memorial Day 2013.

By Memorial Day 2015, the number was 58,307.

That number included 1,534 from Indiana and 40 from Wayne County.

The bloodiest year of the war in terms of U.S. casualties was 1968 when 16,899 were killed. Next was 1969 with 11,780, then 1967 with 11,363. If my math is correct, that means 40,042 U.S. military personnel, or 68 percent of the total casualties, happened during those three years.

If you know someone who served in Vietnam during that time, please thank them for their service and congratulate them on surviving.

Who died in the Vietnam War? Mostly young men. The website reported that 14,095 U.S. 20-year-olds were killed in the Vietnam War, the most of any age group. Next were 21-year-olds at 9,705 and then 19-year-olds at 8,283.

That means that of all those U.S. troops killed in Vietnam, 32,083 were 19- through 21-year-olds, or 55 percent. A sad and tragic number.

The bloodiest battle for U.S. troops in the war? Again, hard to tell. For instance, officials list U.S. casualties in the Battle of Khe Sanh at 246, but that does not include skirmishes prior to the beginning of the NVA and Viet Cong siege, efforts to resupply or rescue the trapped U.S. forces, skirmishes on surrounding hills and those who died when the base was dismantled.

Taking those into account, Ray Stubbe, a U.S. Navy Chaplain during the siege and now a Khe Sanh historian, lists the number of U.S. casualties at closer to 1,000.

That too is confusing But these are the facts.

Eight women, all nurses, died in the Vietnam War, including one killed in action.

Sixty-one percent of the men killed in Vietnam were 21 years of age or younger.

U.S. wounded in action totaled 303,704; 75,000 severely disabled; 5,283 lost a limb; and 1,081 sustained multiple amputations. Amputations and crippling wounds to lower extremities were 300 percent higher in Vietnam than in World War II and 70 percent higher than Korea. Multiple amputations occurred at the rate of 18.4 percent compared to 5.7 percent in WWII.

Twenty-five percent of the total forces who served, or 648,500, were draftees. Draftees accounted for 30.4 percent, or 17,725, of combat deaths. Total draftees during the war numbered 1,728,344. Of those 38 percent served in Vietnam.

The last man was drafted June 30, 1973.

A total of 5,977 reservists were killed in the war and 6,140 National Guard personnel.

Seventy-six percent of the men sent to Vietnam were from lower middle/working class backgrounds.

Of those who actually served in Vietnam, 88.4 percent were white, 10.6 percent were black and 1 percent belonged to other races. Of combat deaths, 86.3 percent were white, 12.5 percent black and 1.2 other.

Also, 97 percent of Vietnam Era veterans were honorably discharged.

I know, these are all just numbers and don’t in any way represent the reality of the war, the sacrifice of our nation and the tremendous loss that families felt in communities around the country.

With that in mind, I will also take a look at those from Wayne County who died in Vietnam, based on my 26 years of reporting on veterans and veterans affairs in this community.

And, by the way, I was a draftee and served in Vietnam from January to the December 1972. I was honorably discharged and was one of the 1 million or so not in combat and not fairly regularly exposed to enemy attack. Still, at times, it was scary as hell.

Reflections from an ancient newsroom

“Terrorism: Explosions rock New York, D.C.” screamed the Palladium-Item headline on Sept. 11, 2001.

Yes, in those days the Palladium actually captured the day’s breaking news.

It was news that would change the lives of every U.S. citizen forever.

The day had started with the casual 5-minute ride to work. Kids were in school and wife was at her job. As I eased my car into its parking spot, the radio guy interrupted the morning jangle of music with news that a small plane appeared to have hit a tower of the World Trade Center in New York.

By the time I walked into the newsroom, a gaggle of PI employees had surrounded the TV to watch the Trade Center tower smoldering. We stood and watched startled and confused.

What in the hell was happening?

In a few moments, confusion turned to horror. We watched as a second plane cruised through the sky and ripped into the second tower, issuing a huge fireball.

Everyone stopped and the moment was frozen in time. It can’t be. It cannot be. This can’t be happening. It began to sink in. We were under attack and we were watching it live on TV.

People gasped. I might have been one of them.

Everyone watched in total shock. Then we did what journalists often do in these situations. We met.

Bill Church was managing editor. I never liked Bill much and he liked me even less. But this seemed to be a situation he was made for. He began barking orders, delegating where possible, but mostly he took command of the copy desk that was tasked with putting the finishing touches on that day’s paper.

In those days pictures came over the Associated Press wire on a separate machine a few feet from the copy desk. He stationed a copy editor at the machine, who screamed out what pictures were coming across as he tore up the front page and began watching the news wire for updates.

What in the hell was happening?

Church broke only to yell at the jabbering group of staff gathered at the TV to quiet down and get to work. We were drawn to the TV like moths to a flame.

As the morning drifted into afternoon I was tasked with calling the Army Reserve and National Guard centers, the state police and local sheriff’s and police for any news of their status, any updates. I also called Fred Griffin at county emergency management for any news there.
“I know what you know,” he said in his calm, professional manner. “Go back to your TV.”

Later, I trundled off to the American Legion and VFW posts for reaction. Everywhere people were gathered in shock around their TVs.

Many things stick out in my mind from that day but two more clearly than the others. And they both give me chills to this day. First is Pam Isaacson, our education reporter and a native New Yorker, literally in tears as we all watched first the first then the second tower collapse. How many were dead? Five thousand? Ten thousand?

The second is Bob Johnson, our promotions director and an ex-military intelligence man, calmly sitting around the copy desk saying, “There’s only one person in the world who could have done this, Osama Bin Laden.”

The day was manic. There were additional reports of the Pentagon being hit, another plane crashed in Pennsylvania, possible gas and food shortages, planes everywhere being grounded.

What in the hell was happening?

The rest is a blur. Night classes (I was teaching at the time) were cancelled at Indiana University East, Earlham students and faculty joined hands in silent prayer, families with relatives in New York and Washington called frantically for news of their loved ones.

We at the Palladium continued our vigil while trying to find local people to share their thoughts and find contacts of relatives directly touched by the disaster.

We published an extra edition. “Terrorism strikes home,” the headline screamed, followed by a quote from President Bush, “Freedom itself was attacked this morning and I assure you, freedom will be defended.”

Residents expressed shock, anger, fear. Some likened the attack to the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor that brought us into World War II.

As I drove home that night I saw an absurdly long line of cars waiting to buy gas at 16th and Main. Moments later I heard a frightening sonic boom as (I assumed) Air Force One roared overhead, bringing President Bush back to Washington.

That night, with children tucked safely in bed, my wife and I watched hour after hour of coverage of the attack. We couldn’t turn it off and walk away. Thousands of innocents were dead.

In the days going forward we explained the attack to our children and, in the years since, we have come to terms with the whole tragedy and the wars and ongoing terrorism that has become part of our lives.

We’ve come to terms with a different world. But we’ve never forgotten.

Great news for RAM

It was Great News Tuesday for the Richmond Art Museum with the announcement that $1.3 million has been raised in a capital campaign for improvements.

The goal, said art museum executive director Shaun Dingwerth, is to raise $1.6 million over the next six months to update and improve the museum’s galleries, its climate control and fire suppression systems, create a new gallery space dedicated to the Richmond Group art colony and improve technology.

The campaign is titled Renewing a Masterpiece.

Dingwerth Tuesday said lead donors in the campaign are Paul and Pat Lingle, Dr. Dana Reihman and Dr. Eileen Cravens and the late William Starr.

Dingwerth said the remaining $300,000 will be raised over the next six month and work is scheduled to begin in February 2017 and last four to six months.

Robin Henry is campaign chairman. She announced that an anonymous donor has pledged $100,000 to the campaign if local volunteers can raise $200,000. That pledge campaign begins today and runs through Dec. 31.

The Richmond Art Museum was founded as the Richmond Art Association in 1898 and is the only active public art museum in the U.S. that is housed in a public school.

The museum’s collection has been hailed as a Midwest treasure by art experts. It’s collection includes works by important impressionist artists like John Elwood Bundy, William Merritt Chase, Frank Duveneck, Marcus Mote and T.C. Steele. It also includes a significant collection of ceramics by the Overbeck sisters of Cambridge City.

The campaign will also support educational programs at the museum. Dingwerth said the museum offers 280 programs annually, most aimed at students, and serves 7,700 young people each year.

Donations can be made at, by mail at P.O. Box 816, Richmond, IN 47375 or in person at the museum, located at the north end of Richmond High School, 350 Hub Etchison Parkway.

Joining museum volunteers at Tuesday’s announcement were mother and daughter TV personalities, Karen Laine and Mina Starsiak, who appear on the HGTV home renovation series “Good Bones.” The women are known for revitalizing the Fountain Square neighborhood in Indianapolis.

Gorge discussion continues

It was a diverse group who attended Wednesday’s discussion of future plans for the Whitewater Gorge through Richmond at the Richmond City Building.

But they had one thing in common, they all were interested in the Gorge.

And, though there was nothing decided, there were a dozen opinions as to what should come next.

The main one was voiced by Ray Ontko, who represented the Richmond Shakespeare Festival at the gathering of about 25 people.

“My main hope at this point is that we update our Gorge plan to see where we are, where we can go next and how we can get there,” Ontko said. “By doing that we can look at what’s the next major effort to tackle and how we go about it.”

The next best opinion came from Richmond Parks Superintendent Denise Retz, who said,  “I think we all agree that the Gorge is hugely important to all of us and to our community.”

Those attending heard a summary of the past Gorge plan, which is now over five years old, presented by Kevin Osborn of Rundell Ernstberger Associates of Indianapolis, the consulting firm hired to do the previous report.

Osborn discussed previous plans and accomplishments in the Starr Gennett Valley, Veterans Memorial Park and the Gorge land in between. He then highlighted plans for the future, presented in the past, that included an “elevated” walking trail on the east rim of the Gorge, a “Gorge Park” just south of the Third and D streets trail head for the Cardinal Greenway Trail and a visitor’s or interpretative center on land just south of the Main Street Bridge.

Those attending wanted to talk about connecting the entire trail with features like the Starr Gennett Valley, trail heads, veteran’s park, downtown Richmond and the city’s Depot District.

They also wanted to find new ways to create more access for people into the park.

“I don’t think we can create a vision for the Gorge without solving the problem with connection,” said Joe Hellrung, president of the board for the Society for Preservation and Use of Resources (SPUR). “There is a spectacular trail system south of the Starr Gennett area that should not be forgotten.”

Hellrung pointed out that if SPUR had not begun acquiring and developing Gorge land 50 years ago there would probably be no Gorge trail and no Starr Gennett Valley today.

“And we need better access to what’s in the Gorge,” Ontko said. “We need to let people know what’s down there and help them get there.”

Discussion also focused on developing the “little depot,” just south of the Third and D trailhead, but Len Vonderhaar, president of the Wayne County Rail Roaders Association, said action must come soon to preserve the historic building.

“There are several holes in the roof and every rain is a threat to that building,” he said. He added that the railroaders would be happy to help with that project.

Retz said a feasibility study must be done soon to get an accurate picture of what must come next to the depot and to establish costs.

“These things don’t happen quickly but I know the longer we wait the greater chance of further decay of that building,” she said.

David Fulton of the Starr Gennett Foundation also discussed possible ways to better display the medallions placed in the “valley” commemorating the various artists who made recordings there.

In the end, Retz said REA will update the Gorge plan and another meeting will be set.

“If anyone has any additional ideas they should call me at 983-PARK or send me an email,” she said.

Overall, the meeting was a success in part because of the groups attending. There were park board and Richmond Common Council members there, along with representatives of the veterans park, railroaders, SPUR, Starr Gennett Foundation, tourism bureau, Shakespeare Festival, even Hayes Arboretum.

No one talked money, which, of course, was the 800-pound gorilla in the room, but the discussion was lively and showed, as Retz said, “that people really care about the Gorge and it’s future.”

I, for one, came in thinking the meeting was a waste of time, and the idea of a welcome or interpretive center one of the dumbest ideas of the year.

But upon further review, I guess, why not? Why not let people know the history of the Gorge, the settlers, the mills, the Starr Piano Company and Gennett Records, what the SPUR folks have done, what the veterans have done, the Starr Gennett Walk of Fame, and throw in information about downtown Richmond, the Depot District, Earlham College, etc.

Then let’s get people into the Gorge through festivals and other events.

In my opinion, that might just be a good idea. At least it’s something worth talking, and dreaming, about.

Beaman leaves park board

The Richmond Parks and Recreation Board of Directors is down one board member today after Deanna Beaman resigned last week.

Beaman had served on the board for two years, but some in the community had questioned her park board role versus her role as part owner of the group that owned first the Richmond River Rats baseball team and now the Richmond Jazz.

The Roosters, as you might remember, used McBride Stadium, which is owned by the parks department and controlled of the park board, under a facilities use agreement. The team played at McBride for several years before dissolving last year.

And now the Jazz is contracting with the city and parks department to use McBride for baseball this summer.

Beaman said she has always avoided any potential conflict of interest while conducting park board business.

In her resignation letter to the board Thursday, said “I have always recused myself and abstained from voting on any measure involving my work with one of the baseball teams or any related facility.”

Snow said that he had discussed the issue with Beaman recently but did not ask her to step down.

“I am tremendously supportive of the work Deanna has done for our community, especially as a member of the park board,” he said. “The decision to resign was all hers. But as a matter of transparency, I think it was a good decision.”

In her letter, Beaman said:

“I have had a passion for outdoor recreation for most of my life, which spurred me into a career of working with and supporting baseball teams for our community to enjoy. I have spent many years working to create an atmosphere in which our community members can come and enjoy “America’s favorite past time.”

In her letter Beaman called this is a “transformative time” for the parks department and for McBride Stadium.

“Given this transformation, I do not want to create any misconceptions of a conflict of interest in my serving on the board. My departure from the board will also give me more time to partner with the city and the parks department in order to assist in the revitalization of the future as it pertains to athletic facilities in our community.”

Park board president Mike Foley praised Beaman’s contribution during Thursday’s meeting.

“She has done a tremendous job for the parks department and for our community. It’s been an honor to serve with her on this board and she will be missed,” he said.

Beaman’s seat on the park board is by mayoral appointment, and Snow said he will begin the search for a replacement this week.

Foley is board president, Beaman was vice president and Tiuana Washington is secretary. I am the fourth member and Clay Miller is a non-voting member representing the Richmond Common Council.

Beaman has agreed to serve on the new McBride Stadium Advisory Committee that will assist park officials with short and longterm planning for McBride.

Happy Trails in Richmond

It’s a good day in Richmond for those who continue the work to build hiking and biking trails in the community.
Richmond Mayor Dave Snow today announced that the city has received a $250,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration to help with the creation of a new trail leg on the city’s north side.
The grant, which comes from the FHA’s Recreational Trail Program and comes to the city through the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, is a big deal because it’s the start of the effort to build the trail east to the Ohio line.
The money will be used to pave a 10-foot-wide trail from North 12th Street to North 24th along the East Fork of the Whitewater River. The trail is to be called the National Road Heritage Trail.
The grant is the result of an unique partnership between the city and Richmond’s Society for the Preservation and Use of Resources (SPUR).
You remember the SPUR folks. They are the ones who, in the 1960s, acquired the land along the Whitewater River, from Test Road north, that 30 years later became the Whitewater Gorge Trail.
For full disclosure purposes, I am a member of the SPUR board of directors.
SPUR board members will continue the effort to take the trail east to Ohio, west to a hookup with the Cardinal Greenway Trail and (hopefully someday) north to the Indiana University East, Ivy Tech and Reid Hospital campus.
The grant requires a 20 percent local match, which will come from a $50,000 donation of land and material from SPUR.
The city has also pledged to make $14,250 worth of improvements as part of the project.
Snow said the proposed project is the first phase of a multi-year effort to extend the National Road Heritage Trail across eastern Wayne County.
SPUR board members first met Sept. 26, 1966. They acquired the northside land between 1990 and 2004.
SPUR’s stated goal is preserving natural areas, soil conservation, beautification, promoting recycling and recreation and educating the leaders of tomorrow on important conservation legislation.
SPUR board president Joe Hellrung said the grant comes at a perfect time.
“This is truly exciting news,” Hellrung said. “This being our 50th year, it’s just such a great coincidence that we are able to get this grant.”
SPUR worked with former Mayor Sally Hutton and city staff for two years on the project, submitting the application April 30, 2015.
“Sally went to bat for us several times and really came through,” Hellrung said. “This is the first step to get us to the next steps of getting a trail to Hayes Arboretum, Glen Miller Park and beyond.”
Richmond City Planner Sarah Mitchell said the announcement fits in well with the city’s plan to be a destination for entrepreneurs and young professionals, and to coincide with its development of a bicycle and pedestrian master plan.
“We are expanding the trail system that will eventually travel through Richmond and across the county, and someday across the state,” Mitchell said.
Snow said one of the city’s biggest accomplishments in this time of economic downturn is to continue to promote the improvement of bicycle and pedestrian amenities.
“The proposed project is to be the first phase of a multi-year effort to extend the National Road Heritage Trail across eastern Wayne County,” Snow said.

A chance to honor Sally

For those looking for a way to honor the memory of former Richmond Mayor Sally Hutton, the Richmond Art Museum might just have the plan.
RAM recently announced the Sally Hutton Children’s Art Fund, a fund to provide scholarships for students attending RAM’s summer art camps.
The fund was established by the Richmond High School Alumni Association after that organization selected Hutton as its Distinguished Alumni in March.
Hutton never lived to receive the honor. She died April 8, seven days before she was to be feted at RHS’ annual Academic Excellence Awards dinner.
“She was my hero,” said alumni association executive director Mary Lou Griffey. “Sally was such a proud and strong woman and always supported young people. She loved the young people of this community.”
Griffey said that when Hutton died, Wayne County Convention and Tourism Bureau executive director Mary Walker suggested that the fund be established.
“It was perfect,” Griffey said. “We all really wanted something to have Sally’s name on it. She was so kind to me and was always willing to support the alumni association and Richmond schools.”
Griffey said the alumni award is given annually to someone who represents the school well, excels in their field and gives back to the community.
“That fit Sally to a tee,” she said.
Hutton, a 1966 RHS graduate, was a three-term Richmond mayor and served in city government for 30 years.
The RAM summer camps host about 30 Wayne County students in June and July.
“The award is to honor Sally’s commitment to youth in the community,” said RAM executive director Shaun Dingwerth. “Sally always helped us with our murals and in any other way could.
“This is a sad time for our community, but it’s a time to remember her love of Richmond and the people here,” he said.
The art camps are for ages 5 through eighth grade and allow students to explore drawing, painting and sculpture.
Anyone wishing to donate can send contributions to the Richmond Art Museum, 350 Hub Etchison Blvd., Richmond, IN 47375 or by stopping at the art museum during business hours
Contributions can also be made on line at the museum’s Website,
For more information, call the art museum at (765) 966-0256.

My time with Sally

Mayor Sally HuttonThey say the first blog is always the toughest.
This one’s about my friend Sally Hutton.
For fear of repeating everything that has so eloquently been written by Palladium-Item reporter Rachel Shelley and dozens of others about Richmond’s former mayor, I will celebrate her with my recollections of her time in office.
We had a funny, warm, weird, sarcastic relationship, much like Madam Mayor’s effervescent personality.
Within a month of her taking office, she became embroiled in the contentious battle over the rezoning of 33 acres of Hayes Arboretum land for commercial development.
I’ll bet most people have forgotten that fight, especially those searching for sales at Kohl’s, trying on yoga pants at Dick’s, munching burritos at Chipotle or sipping lattes at Starbucks.
But there was Sally in the eye of the storm. Republicans and Democrats screaming at each other. Business leaders screaming at tree huggers, neighbors screaming at council members and the mayor.
And people screaming just because they were unhappy.
If you remember, council approved the rezoning, Sally vetoed the vote and the Hayes folks filed an $8.25 million lawsuit against the city and the mayor.
Council failed to override the veto but Sally relented and the zoning went through.
Through it all, Sally stood tall, but her path forward was set.

We had a warm relationship, at the beginning. We were always friends because that’s the way Sally was.
I’m guesstimating that I called her more than 2,000 times in her 12 years in office. I called her in the office, at home, while she was driving, picking up the grandkids, cleaning alleys, out to dinner, just about everywhere she went.
At first, she answered with “Well, how are you?” with a heavy emphasis on the “you.”
In the proceeding years, she would answer with “What do you want?” or “I just talked to you!”
Still I knew she had not lost her sense of humor and the sarcasm was good natured.
Once, we were talking family and I told her my oldest sister was a department head in one of the biggest law firms in Chicago, and my other sister worked in the University of California library system and played a key role in digitizing the university’s entire library system.
Without missing a beat, Sally said “Well, what happened to you?”
I grew to know Sally during her years on Common Council and grew to love and respect her during her terms as mayor.
She was always the voice of the underdog, speaking up for the people who had little say in their governance. She was the champion of neighborhood associations, loved kids, visited the elderly and infirmed and was fiercely protective of those who worked for her, especially her department heads.
And she was great company, confirmed during hours of discussions when I featured her in 2005 in my Fifty Weeks of Success series and again in 2010 when I spent a day as mayor.

But she was not a great interview because her philosophy of government was too simple.
“You have to bring people together. Everyone has to have a voice. They have to have seat at that table. That’s how you get things done, by working together.”
I think she really believed that.
Still, she stayed too long in the mayor’s office. Even she would admit that. The final years were a grind. Some time around year nine or 10, things soured. The economy went south, businesses closed or left town, wages stagnated and drugs and crime began to spread like weeds around an abandoned house.
Critics blamed her for trash, lost jobs, pot holes, abandoned houses, weeds, drugs, the old Reid Hospital mess, low student test scores, stray cats, the inability to attract “high-paying jobs” (I heard it a million times) and traffic lights not in sync.
But she never backed down, never shirked her responsibility, nor swayed from her belief that Richmond is grand and wonderful place full of nice people.
Even the knuckleheads.
We spent a lot of time together in those 12 years and what I found was a wonderfully kind and caring person.
I got my first glimpse of her humor on election night, Nov. 4, 2003, when she walked into the Kuhlman Center and was ushered up to the stand where the final election results were posted. She leaned in and stared at the results, nodding and smiling, while her supporters cheered.
Later, she told me, “I didn’t have my glasses on. I honestly couldn’t see a thing. But I knew something good had happened.”
Of the almost 8,000 votes cast, Sally had won by 141 votes.
“I’m amazed. I can’t believe it’s true,” she said over and over again.

She had a way with people that few others have. People loved her. That was Sally.
When I did my day-as-mayor feature, we sat through a dozen meetings, talked to politicos and Average Joes. We also rode in the RHS homecoming parade, me up top in the convertible, her beside me in the passenger seat.
People were puzzled. Nobody knew me but everybody knew Sally, from the youngest kids to the oldest grandmas.
And Sally loved it. “He’s the mayor and from now on you can direct all your complaints to him. He’s dying to hear from you,” she shouted a dozen times during the parade.
What bothered her most was the pettiness and divisiveness that drove some in governance and every day life.
“If we had some money this would be a whole lot easier,” she told me for a piece I wrote in 2008.
“The thing I want people to know is we can’t do this by ourselves,” she said. “I can’t do this by myself. Citizens of this community have to be involved. That’s the only way it will work.”
Today, Richmond is a quieter, sadder place.
My last memory of her is Veterans Day 2015 when she managed to make an appearance in Veterans Park. She couldn’t last through the entire ceremony and retreated to a waiting vehicle.
I went to say hello and was interrupted by veteran after veteran who came up to the car to say “Take care, Sally,” “Be well, Sally,” “God bless you, Sally.”
When I got near her I saw tears in her eyes.
And felt the tears in mine.