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> The MCAS versus the Parks Department
Southsider2k12
post Mar 24 2008, 11:15 AM
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http://thenewsdispatch.com/main.asp?Sectio...amp;TM=47767.69

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Under MCAS, City Loses Again
It appears that the Michigan City Area Schools can't stand success. Look at all the great press recently. Students attacking each other, attempted poisoning of teachers, 50 percent drop-out rate, and now what very little is left of a growing girls basketball program is being squashed.

I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder toward the whole school system employee protection system. I am an entrepreneur, and a business owner and in my world if you don't get things done to go forward you lose your gig. Period.

Our school system seems to embrace laziness, apathy and greed. I am an Elston graduate and have lived here most of my life. I have personally directed hockey camps here with Chicago Blackhawks and NHL All Stars. The Michigan City Park Department, led by Darrell Garbacik, helped put together these great opportunities for our local kids, and he and his staff have a great attitude toward our city and, from what I read, they have helped with Mr. Butler's Girls Basketball Academy.

I would guess that Mr. Butler spends countless hours of volunteer time and effort to do something positive. He has built this program to the regional level and should feel very proud. Guess what MCAS, you are breaking Mr. Butler's heart.

Do we need to do an economic impact study to show the economic benefits this town, its residents and business of this program. It brings young athletes and good people to town and they spend money. I suppose MCAS isn't interested in the girls basketball team selling more tickets, which create revenue and increase the fan base, which is a positive thing.

I hope it isn't too late to fix this. MCAS should roll out a red carpet to Mr. Butler and furnish the best gym and facility we have for this program, and if not, Mr. Butler's phone will ring from a neighboring town and they will roll the red carpet out to him and Michigan City loses again.

We wonder why we can't grow our town and bring good people here to live. Until we fix our school system and its attitude, the downward spiral will continue. Mr. Butler, "Keep Diggin", you have a great program that needs to continue.

Tim Jahnz

Michigan City


http://thenewsdispatch.com/main.asp?Sectio...amp;TM=47767.69

QUOTE
Schools Wasted Cash Fighting Girls
I have previously shed light on the Michigan City Area Schools' decision to block our Michigan City youth girls basketball program (Michigan City Basketball Academy) from using gyms while never actually telling our program why we were being denied.

Out of courtesy to MCAS I left out a few details hoping that they would come to their senses, but I see that was a pipe dream. I am curious if the taxpayers of Michigan City know just how much of their money was wasted by MCAS and its legal staff fighting to ensure a group of MCAS kids would not be allowed to use facilities that they allow other MC Park and Recreation programs to use freely without question. I ask the school board president to release that information to the public so they can truly get a picture on this waste of money. They had no problems forking over thousands to their attorneys to ensure these kids could not use an empty gym, I guess their attorneys are more important than our kids, as it would have cost them nothing to let them play.

Now I see that School Board President Clyde Zeek has fingered MCHS Athletic Director Robert "Bear" Falls as the person responsible for our program's demise. Given all the conversations I personally had with Mr. Falls related to this issue I find it ironic that he always claimed to support our program, and was working to see we got gym time, as he believed our program was a great feeder system for our MCHS Lady Wolves basketball program.

Something sure smells funny surrounding this issue to say the least. He was in favor of our program, saw its relevance, and yet has sought to deny us access to gyms sitting un-used?

Seems somebody needs to figure out which story they are going to tell. I cannot believe MCAS can do business this way, or does morality have no place in our school administration now?

How can we expect students to respect a school system when this type of action is allowed to take place?

Roger Butler

Lady Wolves Basketball Assistant Coach

Organizer, Coach

Michigan City Basketball Academy
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Ang
post Mar 24 2008, 11:20 AM
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I am not surprised the School Board blamed Bear for this! They can't take responsibility for their own actions so they blame the little guys!


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Southsider2k12
post Mar 24 2008, 11:26 AM
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http://thenewsdispatch.com/main.asp?Sectio...amp;TM=47767.69

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Sad To See Girls Program Stymied
After reading Mr. Butler's letter stating that the Michigan City girls Basketball Academy program would not have a season, I immediately contacted Roger Butler and Brian Studtman and offered them the use of the Martin Luther King Center's gym. Mr. Butler informed me, though, that, unfortunately, their program has already missed the registration deadline and so their season must remain a no-go, even though they would now have a gym to use.

It deeply saddens me to hear that yet another program serving Michigan City's youth has come to an end because of political differences. As I have said before, it is high time that we put aside our personal dislikes, political opinions and unfair practices and come together for the youth of our city. There is room for no preferential treatment for some and exclusion of others (which I do know a "representative" of the Park Department has done).

It is when, and only when, we work as one city serving the one future of our youth that we will be successful in providing them a promising future.

And with that, I extend a welcome to any area program serving the city's youth to utilize our gym to do just that - to serve the youth in a positive and promising manner.

Rodney McCormick

Sports Coordinator

Martin Luther King Center

Michigan City


http://thenewsdispatch.com/main.asp?Sectio...amp;TM=47767.69

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Why Did Schools Deny Use Of Gym?
The Michigan City Area Schools board has denied the girls Michigan City AAU basketball program a gym to have games in. Even after we were willing to pay for the gym, the check was sent back.

You ask why - that's the same question as a parent I am asking. I have been with this program for six years with both of my girls participating. They have learned so much through this program and to sit there and have to tell my 13-year-old daughter she can't play this year because there is nowhere to practice broke my heart, along with hers.

Do you realize that three-fourths of the girls who play for the Michigan City High School team came from this feeder program, how it is such a good program that they went to sectional and WON, and how they moved on to regionals this year, plus two Duneland Athletic Conference titles. But now what does the future hold, girls?

My daughter's team at Barker Middle School went undefeated two years in a row because of this program. These girls learned team work, friendship, respect, sportsmanship and integrity and now that's going to be taken away.

WHY? Did you know at least 40 to 50 girls in Michigan City are involved with AAU? These coaches don't get paid for what they do, the time they put in is totally voluntary on their part. Their only reward is to see the faces of these girls when they make their first basket or their first three pointer, or when they win a game. It's the joy they get from sharing their skills with these girls, they let them know it's OK to lose, and tell them we will work a little bit harder the next time.

I'm not the only one who is angry and upset - grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends took the time to see these girls grow and play each year with the skills they have learned.

Michigan City, let's not just sit around, let's find out why this School Board denied this program gym time.

Lynnette Kosakowski

Michigan City
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Southsider2k12
post Mar 24 2008, 11:28 AM
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http://thenewsdispatch.com/main.asp?Sectio...amp;TM=47767.69

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Academy Loss Threatens Girls Basketball
I echo the sentiments of Mr. Butler and Ms. Smith who wrote about the fate of the Michigan City Basketball Academy ["Lack of cooperation puts end to girls Basketball Academy" and "School vs. park struggle hurts kids," Thursday].

Nine years ago my daughter was fortunate enough to be an initial member of this wonderful academy. When she was a freshman she, along with other girls who had spent many weekends playing basketball all over Indiana and other states for the five years as part of Michigan City Basketball Academy, said she hoped she and her teammates could help make a difference in the Lady Wolves basketball team. Anyone who has attended one of their basketball games would have to admit a difference has been made.

Players who have been involved in this academy such as Missy, Katie, Natalie, Emma, Kenya and Bianca have all made a difference and have grown up together on the basketball court. Brian Studtman's dream of improving girls basketball in Michigan City by starting this academy has come true in the fact that Michigan City High School now has not one, but two Duneland Athletic Conference Championships for girls basketball and also a Sectional Championship for the first time in 10 years.

Why would the administration decide to pull the plug at a time when the girls have winning seasons, conference and sectional championships and are being recognized around the state as a team to watch?

Jeers to the MCAS school board and administration for not allowing Michigan City Basketball Academy to have some gym space to practice in. Cheers to Brian Studtman for having a dream and working hard to make it come true. Cheers to Roger, Paul, Jim, Dave and all the other coaches and parents who volunteered their time to help with fundraising, score keeping, chaperoning and providing moral support to the girls during the initial years of this institution.

A lot of hard work had to be done to get to where the Lady Wolves basketball program is, and I am very proud to say my daughter was a part of this journey. She learned about hard work and to never give up. She has memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.

Thank you, Brian, for not giving up on your dream, and I hope somehow the academy will be able to be brought back to life so other girls are able to experience the same feeling of pride that Missy and her friends had as they held up that sectional trophy. Hard work does pay off, and the Lady Wolves basketball team is proof of that.

Jill Johnson

Michigan City
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Southsider2k12
post Mar 24 2008, 11:30 AM
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http://thenewsdispatch.com/main.asp?Sectio...amp;TM=47767.69

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Lack Of Cooperation Puts End To Girls Basketball Academy
I am writing all of you to let you know that the issues surrounding the youth girls basketball program have forced us to bring the program to an end for this year. After nine years of operation representing Michigan City girls basketball on both a regional, state and intra-state level, we have been forced to cancel our program.

This is due to the inability of the Michigan City Area Schools and Michigan City Parks and Recreation Department to put differences aside and consider those they claim to represent - the youth.

It is both saddening and frustrating that we as a community could not come together and show our support for a program that has proven to be effective through the success of our Michigan City Lady Wolves basketball program.

Nearly 100 percent of those student athletes were members of this program, and a direct correlation can be drawn between the efforts of coach Gary Collins and his staff in making this program successful. The Michigan City Parks and Recreation Department has been gracious enough to step up for us through the years, and I feel they have gone as far as they can go in support of our program.

Our program was left with no choice but to cancel the program after exhausting all avenues with the MCAS to gain gym time - gym time only - to prepare our youth to take part in this season. We did not seek financial, managerial or organizational support from MCAS, all we desired was the opportunity for our MCAS students to use a gym that was sitting empty. We did not seek to use the Wolves Gym at MCHS, only a gym with a 3-point arc that they would be playing on during our season.

While I am not privy to the actual reason this request, which was submitted in August 2007 and continually requested up to March 2008, was denied, I only know that the losers in this are the youth. It strikes me as odd that several other Michigan City Parks and Recreation programs such as MCUBO, Piranhas, soccer, football, wrestling, softball and others were allowed access, but the youth girls basketball was denied.

Needless to say the parents of all of these kids and parents of past members are very upset and seeking answers that would make sense of this whole situation. They feel, to paraphrase their concerns, as if their children are being singled out or discriminated against, to say the least. At this point I do not know how to answer their concerns.

We have always tried to combine academics, athletics, sportsmanship, respect and integrity as mottos of our program. I think if you were to poll those community programs in our area that we have competed against over these nine years they would confirm our kids employ these values both on and off the athletic fields.

Roger A. Butler

Co-Organizer

Michigan City Basketball Academy
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Southsider2k12
post Mar 24 2008, 01:15 PM
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http://thenewsdispatch.com/main.asp?Sectio...amp;TM=38671.14

QUOTE
Park Board Blasts MCAS
End of basketball program for girls blamed on breach of contract by schools.

Jason Miller
The News-Dispatch

MICHIGAN CITY - The Michigan City Park Board placed the responsibility for kicking a young women's basketball program out of school-owned gyms directly on the laps of the Michigan City Area Schools.

"The demise of the Michigan City Girls Basketball Academy lies squarely on the Michigan City Area Schools," Park Board President Phil Latchford said Thursday night.

"The park department has exhausted every available option to help the girls get gym space in our schools. We appealed to the administration and we appealed to the school board - to no avail," he added.

Latchford read a statement into the board's record Thursday admonishing the school system for the move, which had been brewing for several weeks. The basketball group, which has served as a feeder system for the Michigan City High School basketball program, currently has nowhere to play.

Park officials say it's because the school demanded the parks pay facilities fees for the group.

They used school gyms during the past nine years under an agreement with the park department, which - until earlier this year - allowed them to use school facilities without charge.

According to park officials, the school recently breached that contract, telling the park department it would have to pay to use school facilities.

At first the department balked, but eventually wrote a check to the schools which Latchford said was returned to the park department within hours of its receipt.

The school system then kicked the girls out of the Wolves Den.

"Our relationship with MCAS has been tremendous for so many years," Park Board member Tom Milcarek said. "I'm very surprised and shocked that this is happening. I can't see why it happened. I'm baffled."

Michigan City School Board President Clyde Zeek said Thursday night the school board hadn't been dealing with the issue, saying MCHS Athletic Director Bob "Bear" Falls was the "only one directly involved."

"I really don't know how to react because it's not something we're privy to," he said.

Former park board president and current city councilman Bob McKee said Thursday the school district breached its 20-year contract with the park department and could be setting a precedent for further breaches.

"For this group to be denied facilities with a contract in place doesn't make a lot of sense," McKee said. "What's next do we lose the Piranhas (swimming club), Pee Wee football, the drum and bugle corps show (which is held at Ames Field)?

"This is just a terrible thing."



Contact reporter Jason Miller at jmiller@thenewsdispatch.com.
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JHeath
post Mar 25 2008, 08:45 AM
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Maybe I'm not seeing something here...but what about the gyms at Marquette, the Boys & Girls Club, or the Naval Armory? Why not seek out another venue rather than just let the program die out and go through all of the unnecessary drama? Where there's a will, there's a way, folks.
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kharris
post Mar 25 2008, 09:44 AM
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QUOTE(JHeath @ Mar 25 2008, 09:45 AM) *

Maybe I'm not seeing something here...but what about the gyms at Marquette, the Boys & Girls Club, or the Naval Armory? Why not seek out another venue rather than just let the program die out and go through all of the unnecessary drama? Where there's a will, there's a way, folks.


What about considering the possibility of using the YMCA building for the park department programs?
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Southsider2k12
post Mar 25 2008, 11:17 AM
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QUOTE(kharris @ Mar 25 2008, 10:44 AM) *

What about considering the possibility of using the YMCA building for the park department programs?


No one can use the Y until the electric bill is paid, which is a very sizable hurdle for any non-profit organization.
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Southsider2k12
post Mar 25 2008, 11:21 AM
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QUOTE(JHeath @ Mar 25 2008, 09:45 AM) *

Maybe I'm not seeing something here...but what about the gyms at Marquette, the Boys & Girls Club, or the Naval Armory? Why not seek out another venue rather than just let the program die out and go through all of the unnecessary drama? Where there's a will, there's a way, folks.


That is a good thought, but keep this one thing in mind. Only ONE of those organziations (including the MCAS) has a written agenda set by the community, which saids, and I quote

"We will make our community an integral part of the Michigan City Area Schools."

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Ang
post Mar 25 2008, 11:46 AM
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Having worked at Plant Planning, and done the facility scheduling, I can tell you how the process works:

1. April--all the schools submit their usage schedules for the next school year to Plant Planning who then enters them into a scheduling program.
2. Next, Parks & Rec turn their stuff in in May for June through June, these are entered into the program. If there are any conflicts with the MCAS, then P&R is notified of the conflicts, they adjust their schedules and resubmit. On and on until all of their events are scheduled
3. Any other NFP group in MC who wants to use the facilities for young people (groups for MCAS students get priority) are next.
4. All others

The Athletic Director has no say in who uses what after all the Athletic events are scheduled--he can recommend but has no actual decision. So for the board to blame Bear for this mess is totally out of line IMO. Typically, the building principals decide who get to use their buildings, except for P&R. The MCAS has an unwritten agreement with P&R that Zilla Field (Marsh school playground) be used free of charge (Zilla Field is owned by P&R) and in return, P&R get second dibs on school facilities and use them free of charge. If any fees are paid, it is only custodial fees if the group doesn't clean up after themselves.
So, if the board wants to push the blame off themselves, technically Mark Francesconi should be to blame as he is the building principal, not Bear. But personally, I can't see Mark saying no to this group. And besides that, they wanted the middle schools, not the high school, so those principals should be blamed.
This is just more of a pissing contest between MCAS and P&R. Personally, I think that since MCAS breached the agreement, P&R should send the MCAS a bill for the use of Zilla Field back dated to the first day of school at Marsh, I mean the day the doors first opened and the first student walked in. That would really show 'em wouldn't it?


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Southsider2k12
post Mar 25 2008, 12:09 PM
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The key figure in all of this is Michael Harding. It is his sockpuppets on the board who hold his agenda over the rest of the board. If you actually got a board who was willing to work WITH the community, instead of for his own interests, this stuff wouldn't keep happening. The YMCA has had problems with the MCAS in the past, and this isn't the first problem that the park board has had with Harding either. It starts at the top of the food chain.
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JHeath
post Mar 25 2008, 11:36 AM
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It's great to understand those things, but what's really needed here is a solution to this specific problem.
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Dave
post Mar 25 2008, 12:02 PM
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I suppose this whole thing is now moot, but it seems to me that someone in power (I haven't said the mayor have I? Am I implying it? Damn right I am!) should have called the parties into his office and basically said something to the effect of "You guys have 24 hours to work this out. I am going to call the papers in two minutes and tell them that I've had you here for this meeting, and that you have 24 hours to work this out. If you can't work this out, you gents better dust off your resumes, because I'm either going to fire you, or if I can't fire you, I am going to make your lives so miserable you're going to wish that I could have. You boys may enjoy your little turf battles, but guess what -- this whole city is my turf! Now get the hell out of my office and fix this!"

And for the record, I'm not into sports in the least amount. This may be my first post in the "City Sports" forum. But this whole debacle is just another quality of life issue that makes MC look bad to the rest of the world. The parties involved in this have made MC look stupid -- again -- and need to be taken to task for it.
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Southsider2k12
post Mar 25 2008, 12:11 PM
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Now THAT is the mayor we have been missing for about a generation now. Its too bad that person isn't in office, because half of these stupid piddly fiefdoms that have popped all over town would be gone.

As to what we need to do to fix it... Unfortunately if the MCAS isn't willing to work with the park board, then I think Jenn hit it on the head. The program needs to move on to negotiate with other entities in town. I wish the YMCA was still around to help this program out, like they did with the parks department last year, but that is too little, too late.
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post Mar 26 2008, 12:52 PM
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http://thenewsdispatch.com/main.asp?Sectio...amp;TM=53748.05

QUOTE
MCAS Board Addresses Use Of School Gyms
Members approve use of Wolves Den for April 19 All-Star basketball game, discuss situation with Girls Basketball Academy.

Deborah Sederberg
The News-Dispatch

MICHIGAN CITY - The MCAS board Tuesday voted unanimously to waive the fee for The News-Dispatch 2008 Charity All-Star Basketball Game on April 19.

Proceeds will go to the United Way of La Porte County.

Since 2005, it has been the school board's policy to require anyone who seeks a fee waiver for use of MCAS facilities to appeal to the school board.

Other discussion centered around the Michigan City Girls Basketball Academy, whose season was canceled this year because the girls had nowhere to practice or to play their games.

"The bottom line is, if policy was followed we wouldn't be here tonight," MCHS Athletic Director Bob "Bear" Falls said.

Falls has been assigned to investigate the relationship between the school corporation and the Michigan City Parks and Recreation Department. He wouldn't speak directly to the girls basketball situation, but simply said procedure is not being followed.

As athletic director, Falls said, he has an obligation to protect the Wolves Den, "the ninth-largest high school gym in the country, not in the state, but in the country."

He is doing his best to keep the gym empty on Sundays to allow for proper cleaning and maintenance.

Board President Clyde Zeek acknowledged the existence of a contract between the school corporation and the parks and recreation department.

He said, however, the board will not allow the park department to determine how MCAS uses its facilities.

City Councilman Bob McKee spoke strongly to the girls basketball program.

"It builds character. It teaches a young person how to win and how to lose. It teaches them about hard work and dedication," McKee said. "It breaks through the barriers of race and social status that so often plague our society because it teaches teamwork and reliance on others."

He said he wants "an honest answer as to who made this decision (to deny access to the girls program)."

If an administrator made the decision, he suggested disciplinary action against that person. If it turns out to be a board decision, he said he wants to see minutes containing the public vote.

Park Superintendent Darrell Garbacik told the board a check from his department paying the fee for use of the gym was returned.

Zeek said he soon will meet with Phil Latchford, president of the park board, and with Mayor Chuck Oberlie in an attempt to resolve some issues between the school corporation and the park department.

He said he will "try to get resolution, to respond positively to the dilemma we find ourselves in."



Contact reporter Deborah Sederberg at dsederberg@thenewsdispatch.com.

THE CHARITY HOOPS EVENT
The News-Dispatch will host Hoops Away for The United Way: The News-Dispatch 2008 Charity High School All-Star Basketball Game.

The event will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 19.

Tickets are available at The News-Dispatch office or by calling (800) 489-9292, Ext. 403. The cost is $5 per ticket, and children ages 5 and under will be admitted free. Tickets may also be purchased at the Michigan City Chamber of Commerce or at The United Way in La Porte.

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JHeath
post Mar 26 2008, 01:10 PM
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That's nice...host the charity event, but forget the program that would benefit the young girls in our community and that helped make our HS Girls' basketball program what it is today.

What's wrong with this picture? Find another venue, park board! Don't let the program just flounder and fail.
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Southsider2k12
post Mar 26 2008, 01:17 PM
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I am also really disappointed that no one actually had the testicular fortitude to step up and explain themselves for turning down the girls program. Way to teach accountability to the kids.
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Southsider2k12
post Mar 26 2008, 01:31 PM
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http://thenewsdispatch.com/main.asp?Sectio...amp;TM=56145.27

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Negative Attitudes Among Boards Hurts Youth
Sen. Barack Obama says we need change in America, which is very much true. Positive changes in Michigan City are needed and need to happen quickly.

I'm not surprised at all about Michigan City Area Schools and the Parks Department feuding over gym floors and who should or should not use them.

Their uncaring, bull-headed and just plain ridiculous decisions will once again cause a negative effect for the youth of Michigan City. I really can see why the youth are frustrated, bored, uncaring and lost. This has caused me to once again address the negative attitudes of adults in this city. Why stop something that has been successful for a number of years?

The programs help create self esteem, better involvement in sports, success in providing our youth advancement at higher levels and, most important, provide our youth an outlet from crime, drugs, gangs and violence.

One individual I talked to was not impressed with the idea of having a prayer vigil and rally to gather residents to talk about combating the violence in Michigan City. I was told it's not going to work, good luck, I won't be there.

These are people who are not about change. They are still living in the past and quite frankly not in the future either. This individual also stated they are one of the people who is vehemently against other programs using the gyms because it costs money to do the floors, it costs money to have a custodian there. Bad excuse after bad excuse.

We here in Michigan City are out own worst enemy, and the ones who suffer are our children.

Some of these boards need to be cleared out and replaced with some youth and people with positive attitudes. When that happens, then and only then will this city catch up with the rest of Indiana, or should I say all other states.

Stopping these programs will be a big mistake and a real hard slap in the face of our young who watch every move we make and hear every word we say. They imitate what we do and say, and, if it's negative, they will respond negatively.

Let's stop the negative attitudes, the bickering and feuding over nothing. Our youth are supposed to be our future, but if Michigan City keeps a stranglehold on them constantly, we will have no future.

Grow up and stop being immature and ask yourselves (MCAS and Parks Department), are we part of the problem or are we part of the solution?

Chester Hawkins

Michigan City
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JHeath
post Mar 26 2008, 02:13 PM
Post #20


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QUOTE
...are we part of the problem or are we part of the solution?


I ask my kids this one all the time when they're uncooperative. Gets the point across quite well.
Mr. Hawkins is right. There are quite a few elected officials who need to ask themselves this question, and then be able to have the courage to answer it with honesty.

This post has been edited by JHeath: Mar 26 2008, 02:15 PM
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