- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Logansport () - Pharos-Tribune. April 19, 2017

Dangers of firefighting on metal roofs

In the last decade, more homeowners have chosen to install metal roofs on their homes.

There are a number of advantages to that type of roof over traditional asphalt shingles - and one particular, frightening and dangerous drawback.

First the advantages:

Though costing about twice as much as traditional roofing materials, metal roofs can last up to four times longer. They also reflect the sun’s rays, improving the energy efficiency of your home. According to a 2008 study by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, having a metal roof can result in up to a 40 percent summer energy cost reduction and up to 15 percent in the winter. They are lighter and easier to install. And because of their resilience to storm damage and the fact that they are not combustible, many insurance companies offer discounts to homeowners who install metal roofs.

However, they can be very noisy - as anyone with a metal roof can attest after recent storms … especially those that produced hail. Those with a particularly steep pitch and without special coatings can reflect sunlight toward oncoming traffic. And if you plan to expand your home after 10 years or so, it may be difficult to match the color precisely.

But the biggest, most dangerous drawback was made clear on Monday morning, April 17, on High Street in Logansport - firefighters have a very difficult time accessing and ventilating through the roof in case of fire. Logansport Fire Chief Bernie Mittica said that he believed that to be the first major fire in the city that the department had to respond to in which a metal roof was in place.

One of the ways firefighters attack a fire is to cut a hole in the roof and spray water through that access point. With a metal roof, the traditional tool for that procedure, the axe, is of no use. And most of the time, saws firefighters carry are fitted with wood blades, not metal. Mittica said the heat was extraordinary and cutting access through the roof was difficult and dangerous.

With more and more homes getting metal roofs, firefighters are having to learn new ways to gain access when needed. But there are things a homeowner can do to make it a bit easier on firefighters, just in case.

Consider whether you should decrease the slope of the roof while having a metal roof installed. Steep roofs are bad enough for firefighters when they are covered in shingles, let alone slick metal. A texture coating can also help, as can the installation of rails designed to slow the slide-off of snow and ice - they can also help with footing. Be sure your attic is properly vented (that can be an alternate access point for firefighters to use instead of having to cut through the roof).

And, while many metal roofs are just laid right on top of the original material, it’s better for firefighters to not have to cut through metal, several layers of asphalt and wood to gain access. If several layers of old roofing material exist - especially if there are loose shingles or damaged decking - consider having that material cleared and repaired when having the new metal roof installed.

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Evansville Courier & Press. April 21, 2017

Our community confronts suicide

Take the time to ask.

That is the simple advice, for a complicated subject, given by suicide experts and survivors as part of a series of community forums put on by the Southwestern Indiana Suicide Prevention Coalition and sponsored by Old National Bank, with the support of the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp.

Six public training sessions were developed to help people learn QPR, which stands for “question, persuade, refer.”

It’s a movement endorsed by Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, among others, after Vanderburgh County coroner Steve Lockyear noted publicly that his office worked 40 suicides in 2016 - and we’re looking at an even higher rate thus far in 2017.

Suicide warning signs and where to get help

“Some people are afraid that if they ask, it will cause them to do it,” said Lockyear. “Studies have shown that’s not the case.

“It’s OK. You can ask, and you can refer. I think that (potential suicide victims) don’t recognize there are those resources out there. All they have to do is pick up the phone. If they can’t pick up the phone, you can pick up the phone and call for them.”

So, the experts say, if you even remotely suspect a loved one, friend or acquaintance might be considering suicide, just ask them. If they answer in the affirmative, help them by seeking assistance, spending time with them, helping them find meaningful activities, help them take care of their body, and do your best to help them reduce stress.

The city and county aren’t the only ones taking notice.

In the Indiana Legislature, House Bill 1430 would require schools to provide at least two hours of suicide prevention every two years to those who have direct contact with students in grades 7-12. Already, schools are required to provide new teachers with this training. The EVSC already conducts annual sessions.

It’s a move advocates say could help teachers know how to spot warning signs and react. The bill was sent to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk this week, with no reason to think he won’t sign it into law.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for those ages 15-24 in Indiana, and the state has consistently struggled with high numbers. In that age group, 119 people died by suicide in 2014, according to a report from the Indiana Youth Institute. Indiana ranks second out of 34 states surveyed in the percentage of high school students who’ve made a suicide plan, and third in the percentage of high school students who seriously considered it.

It’s a terrible trend, one fueled by feelings of helplessness, both by the victims and their survivors.

But as Kayla Hands, a freshman at the University of Southern Indiana and a suicide survivor, told the Courier & Press’ Richard Gootee: “When people start to realize mental health is a big issue. it’s going to be talked about more often. People are starting to take the veil of stigma off, but with the community - and communities elsewhere - pushing for more (awareness) it’s going to make people more comfortable to talk.”

So ask. And tell. Risk an uncomfortable conversation to avoid an awful outcome.

“Are you thinking of killing yourself? Let me help you find help.”

You can call the Southwestern Suicide Prevention Coalition at 812-476-7200 to learn about more training opportunities.

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(Terre Haute) Tribune-Star. April 20, 2017

Overpass is worth the wait

Major relief is on the way

The persistent activity of trains through and around Terre Haute has been a traffic scourge in the community for decades. The construction of the Third Street overpass in the 1980s eased the burden, especially for north-south traffic passing through town. Interstate 70 had relieved the east-west congestion in the late ‘60s.

But east-west movement of vehicular traffic through the heart of the city remained a challenge. When train traffic was heavy, motorists simply had few options.

It’s been a long time coming, but change is in the wind.

Ground was broken Tuesday for a crucial phase of Margaret Avenue’s reconstruction, a project that will produce an overpass over a busy stretch of railroad owned by CSX. When finished, the overpass will be a safety valve for motorists needing to criss-cross the city and avoid the delays often caused by trains on the CSX tracks.

There have been numerous important transportation infrastructure projects here through the years. But this one ranks as among the most consequential, perhaps since the beginning of the Indiana 641 bypass around the city’s southeast side.

The concept of a railroad overpass on Margaret Avenue has been on the community’s dream list for as long of most residents have been alive. The enormous expense of such a project kept it on the long-range drawing board until about 10 years ago. The scope and impact of such a project made it one the federal government would eventually fund by 80 percent. The county also recognized the value and was able to provide some of its own transportation planning funds. After that, it was up to the city to fund the rest of the $8.8 million project.

All the while, Mayor Duke Bennett has stayed focused on the vision and in pursuit of the end result. In addition to the leadership from Bennett and his staff, the complicated project required the labors of dozens of people.

Residents won’t see an immediate impact because Margaret Avenue won’t be closed for the construction until September, when road work on Margaret farther east will be completed. When overpass construction does begin in earnest, there will be a lengthy period of inconvenience for motorists. Rest assured, it will be worth it.

We applaud the mayor, county officials and all those who have worked to make this project possible. And we commend the people of Terre Haute for their enduring patience as they waited for this project to finally come about

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The (Anderson) Herald Bulletin. April 21, 2017

School facility plan well worth the costs

Ever since Anderson Community Schools Superintendent Terry Thompson unveiled in January a $40 million-$60 million plan to upgrade ACS facilities, property owners have been waiting to learn what their share of the costs would be.

They found out last week, when ACS announced $50 million as the overall cost for the capital project and introduced a second tax referendum that would raise an additional $1.8 million that would enable the school district to better compensate teachers.

While comments about the FIRST (Facilities Innovation Results Safety Transformation) plan at a series of public meetings have been almost exclusively favorable, results of reader polls conducted by The Herald Bulletin have indicated a significant portion of the community is opposed.

A recent poll question read: Assuming a $50 million Anderson Community Schools bond issue would cost you about $75 a year in increased taxes, would you support it?

Of the 158 respondents, 100 answered “no.”

We hope that everyone who has already decided to oppose the ACS referenda, slated to appear on the ballot in May 2018, will reconsider.

Any discussions about Anderson’s future and improving quality of life always circle around to education. And, simply put, for ACS to serve local families and to attract more residents to the city, facility improvements and teacher raises are imperative.

All voters should recognize that the ACS facility improvement proposal is modest compared to many other school facility plans. A Westfield-Washington Schools referendum seeks to raise $90 million over 20 years, nearly twice the amount of the ACS proposal, which covers 19 years.

When the per-year cost is broken down for property owners, it’s clear that the additional burden on taxpayers wouldn’t be onerous. An owner of a median-value Anderson home, assessed at $81,700, would pay an additional $75 a year to help foot the bill for the ACS referenda.

While many local property owners are on fixed incomes and understandably want to hold the line against any cost increases, when you consider the paramount importance of education in Anderson, it seems a relatively small price to pay.

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