Memorial Day 2019 Leadership and Cooperation

Memorial Day was established as a federal holiday to recognize those who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. It should also lead to a reflection on the causes that inspired their sacrifice and reinforce the responsibility on the living in taking action that will lead to “a more perfect Union.”

Perhaps Lincoln at Gettysburg expressed it best when describing the motivations of those that give their life to the greater cause: “ …  that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Our challenge? The U.S. system of government was designed to be continuously improved.  “We the People” own the system and are enabled through the Bill of Rights to work together towards “a more perfect”  (better) Union and county.

Under federalism, it was expected that change would be driven by the people through the local level of government.  A change should result in outcomes where everyone gains, or at least, are not any worse off.  This requires that you identify how “everyone”  defines better along with the feedback they need to assess progress.

Within the next 6-12 months, local citizens who have been working for the past two years to develop a better system for collaboration and improvement through the Hometown Collaborative Initiative (HCI) will be testing a new approach (and assessing demand)  to build cooperation among citizens who are and want to make one or more aspects of the county more perfect or better.

The history and the background on the initiative are available through the link below.  If you are interested in helping us validate the approach through the application to a personal initiative and/or to a group or organization that you are involved with, let U.S. know.  We plan on providing updates on the program throughout the year and to include a  yearly summary on Memorial Day 2020.

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection
can catch excellence”. — Vince Lombardi

More Info:  HCI Capstone Project Proposal – Leadership Cooperative


Information to consider before purchasing a home in Brown County?

In  2018, over 90% or 7,700 residences in the county are on septic systems.  The majority of homes (approximately 80%) are older than 25 years.

The useful life of a septic system?

County POLICY – Limited Useful Life.  The Brown County Regional Sewer District (BCRSD) board members identified a “useful life” of a maintained septic system as lasting an average of 25 years, and about 25 years for a drain field.  If you have a functioning septic system, a system may qualify for a waiver.

  • It is up to the respective RSD as to whether or not they will grant waivers.  Details provided in Indiana Code Title 36. Local Government § 36-9-23-30.1.
    • Interpretation? If your system is less than 10 years old, you may qualify for two five year waivers. The waiver would not exceed a total of 20 years.

Indefinite Useful Life.

  • The Environmental Protection Agency references a study that identifies that “conventional septic systems are designed to operate indefinitely if properly maintained. However, because most household systems are not well maintained, the functioning life of septic systems is typically 20 years or less.”  
  • Presby Environmental Systems (among the recommended systems in the State and County) states: “If the system is designed, installed and maintained properly, there is no limit to the life expectancy of Enviro-Septic® Technology. In the event that the System malfunctions due to abuse, AES or Enviro-Septic® may be rejuvenated in as little as 72 hours, eliminating the need for a replacement.

Regional Sewer District (RSD)

If you are buying a home in Brown County and are within 300 feet of a system of a Regional Sewer District (RSD), you can be forced to hook on to the system despite the fact that you may have a functional septic system.

Map of Indiana Regional Water and Sewer Districts. RSDs include Gnaw Bone, Helmsburg and Brown County.  Brown County RSD is proposing a new wastewater treatment plant in the Bean Blossom area.

  • Currently, monthly fees range from $50.00 (Gnaw Bone) to $92.00 (Helmsburg). The proposed system for Bean Blossom is estimated to range from $65.00 to $85.00
  • In addition to the monthly rates, each RSD have their own hook-up fees

The town of Nashville has its own wastewater treatment plant. Nashville has identified that new areas requesting service may have to agree to annexation.

Questions when considering a purchase of a property with a septic system

  • Best case:  Has the system been properly designed, installed and maintained? If so, it could have an indefinite life.
  • Is the residence within the boundary of an RSD?  (If so, you may be required to hook-up to their system).
  • What are the recommended best practices for septic system inspections?
  • How old is the septic system?
  • Has the system been maintained? Any records available?
  • Does the health department have a record of the system?
  • Have you reviewed the current county requirements for installing a septic system?  Depending on the age of the system, it may not meet current codes that were first introduced in 1977 (?)
  • Does the property have enough space for a new system?
  • If space for a drain field is not available, the field can be replaced but it is very expensive. What is the cost of a drain field replacement?  (replacing the old soils with new).
  • What are the options and costs for a new septic system?
  • Are there costs associated with dealing with the old system such as sealing or removing the old storage tank?

Age of Residences in Brown County – Census Data

State of the Child Report – Brown County 2019

Why the state of the child?

To Understand top challenges facing youth; Access critical data and solutions; Advocate, empower and inspire action; and Work together and be responsive.

April 23, 2019 Presentation – Community Foundation  SOTC_2019_April 23 Presentation_Brown County

FYI Definition – Data Quality

About:  Indiana Youth Institute exists to improve the lives of all Indiana children. We provide critical data, capacity-building resources and innovative training for people and organizations that impact the healthy development of Indiana’s children and youth. We facilitate collaboration and promote problem-solving and collective advocacy on a statewide scale.


Salt Creek Trail Bridge – Span B

Agreement Relocation and Transfer of Bridge

On 26 January 2017, Brown County Commissioners agreed to accept the relocation of a highway bridge to be used as a pedestrian bridge for the Salt Creek Trail.   The state budgeted $2,100,000.00.   The County is responsible for any additional costs that exceed this amount.

Once installed, the County is also responsible for maintenance.

The agreement (contract) is in effect for 25 years but not to exceed Dec 31, 2045.

Further Information:



Unique and Challenging Demographics

The Vision 2010/2020 Project identified our “Unique and Challenging Demographics” that raised awareness of the “tensions” between the“From heres” and “Come heres”

Tension Between Socio-Economic Levels – Growing Adversarial Culture?

There is a wide and growing income gap, with fewer middle incomes. In addition to creating tension, these shifting demographics have caused housing prices to skyrocket, and property taxes to increase, making it difficult to both live and work in Brown County and further heightening the tension. Many also believe that this gap has skewed the per capita income data for the county, creating an unrealistic profile of the county’s asset base and leading to further challenges.

The difference in perspective that comes along with this tension is profound. It contributes to trust issues and unbalanced participation in community processes.”

Many believe that a fundamental demographic shift is underway and that the demographic slices and tensions described above will continue to increase. Increasing tension between local/non-local and haves/have nots makes it difficult to work together on community issues. Some noted that the shift has created a growing “adversarial culture.”

Reference: 2008 Countywide  Needs and Assets Assessment, slides 22-24.

Community Focus for 2019

Community Focus for 2019 – Presentations at the Playhouse

  • January 23–Quality of Place and Workforce Town Hall
  • April 10–“The survey says and the opportunities are…” Results from the Quality of Place Workforce Plan survey
  • June 12–Our Valuable Resources and our Economic Plan
    • Our Children –Dr. Hammack presents the annual State of Schools Report
    • Our Economic Stability –Jim Kemp & Thomas P. Miller review draft of Economic Plan
  • Aug 14 –Preserving Our Environment –Protecting and managing our environment including infrastructure and environmental challenges and plans
  • Nov 13 –Review Final Economic Development Plan