Category Archives: Uncategorized

Regional Sewer Board – Bean Blossom Sewer Project

10/9/2018  RSD Meeting.  Brown County Matters – Facebook Posts

Sept 21, 2018 GUEST OPINION: How the Brown County Regional Sewer District came to be Editor’s note: This guest column was written with input from Brown County Regional Sewer District Board members Judy Swift Powdrill, Phil LeBlanc, Debbie Larsh,…

June 20, 2018Regional Sewer District One Step Closer To Offering Service By BROCK TURNER .

Some residents say they’ve lost trust in the Brown County Regional Sewer District Board. The board Tuesday night allocated $270,000 for an environmental study the State of Indiana requires for …

Brown County Broadband

Key Dates:

Sept 18, 2018.  Phase 2 of high-speed internet project announced,  By  – More of Brown County will receive high-speed fiber internet next year through power company SCI REMC. Phase 2 of the company’s fiber-to-the-home project will serve…  

July 27, 2018. Internet expansions under way in Brown County By Sara Clifford –Two rural electric membership co-ops are taking advantage of local tax breaks to expand high-speed internet in Brown County. Representatives from SCI-REMC and Jackson County…

April 10, 2018SCI-REMC bringing fiber internet to Brown County  Phase 1 of the project, announced in April, is under construction now in Brown, Morgan and Monroe counties. It will reach about 1,700 customers in Brown County, including the Lake Lemon area; western Jackson Township; Lanam Ridge and Oak Grove roads; Yellowwood Lake Road north of the lake; and areas west and southwest of Nashville around State Road 46 West.

March 27, 2018,  Efforts aimed at internet access: County seeks to establish infrastructure development zone The Brown County Commissioners approved an ordinance March 21, that would declare the entire county an infrastructure development zone, using a state law created in 2013.


School Finances, Declining Enrollment, and Challenges

Brown County Schools – 2017 and 2018 Budget Recommendations.   See Slide 6 – Enrollment Forecasts.

Sept 27, 2018.  Superintendent’s presentation on School Finances, Challenges, and Request for Feedback: 20180927 School Financial Update 2018-2019

Sep 27, 2018. Disappointing numbers: School enrollment declines again, but ‘we’re trying not to let this get us down,’ superintendent says By 

June 26, 2018.  SUPERINTENDENT’S CORNER: Learn about distruct topics through Community Conversation series


School Board Candidate Questionnaire and Responses

 Additional Information:   

Questionnaire for School Board Candidates  

Facebook Post – Brown County Matters – Key Points made at Candidate Forum

1) Please describe the occupations, education/training, and experience that qualify you for this office.

I have a passion for learning and working to continually improve the quality of government. I retired from the Department of Defense with over 35 years of service and from the Army Reserve with over 30 years of service to include over three and half years on active duty after Sept 11, 2001.

I graduated from a public high school in Indianapolis on a non-college track with a concentration in fine arts and commercial carpentry. I enlisted in the Army after high school and attended college on the GI Bill. I earned a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University, a Master’s in Public Administration, and a Master’s in Strategic Studies from the Army.

I’ve taught at Ivy Tech and served on their business advisory board. I was also an instructor in IU’s continuing studies program. I served as a volunteer with Indianapolis Public Schools where I supported a variety of successful improvement projects.

2) Describe a recent accomplishment in your professional life.

I became interested in supporting the schools upon learning more about the need for the referendum.  I studied the issues associated with funding, debt, and declining enrollments. I volunteered to serve on the schools strategic planning committee. I also volunteered to support the Regional Opportunity Initiative Ready Schools strategies. These strategies include building partnerships with regional businesses to help prepare our students for the better jobs and careers.

To address declining enrollments and affordable housing issues and increase economic opportunities, I volunteered to serve on the County Redevelopment Commission and coordinated efforts to complete a county-wide income survey. Survey results indicated that we are eligible for over $100,000 in grants. We are expected to receive a $40,000 grant to fund development of an economic development strategy. Good plans developed with community input, support, and guidance, will explain in detail what needs to be done, when, how, and by whom.

3)  How do you view the duties of being a School Board member?

The leadership in Brown County Schools along with community support represents one of the greatest assets we have in our county.  I will continue to support this success and collaborate within the county and with regional partners and businesses to support our students in achieving their education and career goals.  The quality of our schools are major considerations for families that choose to remain or move to our county.

In addition to representing citizens and supporting the superintendent, school board members have a position on the Area Plan Commission as well as the County and Town Redevelopment Commissions. Slowing and reversing the downward trend in enrollments, increasing our tax base, providing competitive salaries, maintaining desirable student-teacher ratios, and preventing school closures requires school board member leadership and advocacy for comprehensive planning and effective execution of the plans. Community support for education is the best investment we can make in our future.

4)  What are the primary challenges for Brown County schools?

The schools are not immune to the problems of the larger community and must continue to provide a safe, caring and inspiring learning environment for our students. The decline in enrollments and changes in state funding and administrative policies are additional challenges that can have significant impacts on local decisions.

In addition to state funding which is linked to enrollment and can change, local schools are also funded by local property and income tax. Along with the downward trend in school enrollments, the county is also projected to lose population. A loss in population can lead to a lower tax base which can require higher taxes on fewer citizens – many of which are on fixed incomes.

On the bright side, we have been projected to have available jobs for skilled workers in our region. Expansion of broadband and community support for effective planning can lead to increased economic benefits for all our citizens.

5)  We recently passed a referendum to support the school system.  How effective has this referendum been and will this be a recurring requirement?

The revenue from the referendum is achieving the stated goals of “supporting current and new school programs, recruiting and retaining teachers and paying general bills.”

Depending on many variables that impact funding and economic development that are outside the control of the schools, it is possible that a referendum may be a recurring requirement to maintain the quality and number of our schools.

I do plan to continue to advocate for comprehensive and economic planning. I am also planning on working to develop an understanding of school debt and funding and assessing the effect of state and county tax policies on the school’s budgets. I will write occasional articles in the Brown County Democrat to share what I learn. If another referendum is needed, the Superintendent and Board Members have a responsibility to demonstrate they performed their due diligence in ensuring the right balance of quality and cost.

Bill Monroe Music Park and Campground – Zoning Issue

The Facebook posts on the request by the new owners of the Bill Monroe Music Park and Campground for some operating flexibility produced some informative and controversial posts.

When good people apply an inadequate process for identifying the problem and proposed solution (s), the process wins most of the time producing a result that no one may like.

The October 2  article in the Democrat provided excellent coverage on the overall process including describing the issues and the positions of the various stakeholder groups.

I believe a better process would result in a better outcome.  An example of a county decision-making process is provided below.  The information in the article and Facebook  posts would provide some input for the process.

Oct 2, 2018, Article – BCD  Zoning board denies Bill Monroe park changes, By Sara Clifford

Brown County Democrat – Facebook Posts
Brown County Matters – Facebook Posts 
Example – County Decision Making Process


Nashville Lodge #135 Free and Accepted Masons

Why a post about the local lodge?  As I was researching the history of the county, I came across the Facebook Page, the Nashville Lodge website and a link to a rather in-depth history (1851-1962) of the lodge.  The following statement in the history caught my interest:

The history of Nashville Lodge #135 F & AM, Nashville and Brown County are so inextricably intertwined that in many cases they are one and the same. 

Beginning with the creation of Brown County State Park in 1929 which led to the creation of a small  tourism industry, and from an economic standpoint, the economies of the Town  and County are not “one and the same.”  Nashville (population around  1,000) is dependent on tourism.  Tourism benefits the state through the generation of sales tax. It also benefits businesses that rely on tourism but the average employee wage is among the lowest in the region and state.

The county (population around 15,000 and projected to decline through 2050) is funded primarily by income and property tax.  The majority of the workforce commutes outside the county for the better-paying jobs. The county also attracts a significant number of retirees. This has allowed for a county tax policy of low property and high-income tax. This policy is becoming unsustainable per a  study conducted by a group of master’s degree students from the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA):

My curiosity led me to a little research on the history of Freemasonry.  During the research process, I did learn that my fraternal great-grandfather was a Mason as was my maternal grandfather.  I am not aware that any of my cousins became members.  My father’s side of the family was Catholic and the Catholic Church does not support membership in the masons.

Grand Lodge of Indiana (1818-2018). Indiana has over 50,000 Masons in almost 400 lodges throughout the state, and they represent men from all walks of life. Masons learn to be better husbands, better fathers, better brothers, and better citizens.

Freemasonry, Secret Organizationwritten by: The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica

Masonic Myths.   What the Freemasons consider myths are considered as truths by some and has inspired many conspiracy theories which have been made popular by author Dan Brown in his books Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol and his latest book, Inferno.

Basic Qualifications: (Reference: Freemasons for Dummies, by Indiana author and Freemason Christoper Hodapp. Freemason for Dummies Blog.

  • You must believe in a Supreme Being.
  • You must be male.
  • You must be joining of your own free will.
  • You must be of lawful age. Depending on the Grand Lodge, this can be anywhere from 18 to 25.
  • You must come recommended by at least two existing Freemasons from the lodge you’re petitioning.
  • You’ll be asked other important questions down the road, before you’re allowed to join a lodge:
    • Are you unbiased by friends and uninfluenced by any mercenary motives? Don’t apply for membership if you think you’ll be using your membership card to get out of a speeding ticket or to network for your business.

    • Do you have a favorable opinion of Freemasonry? You should have a desire for knowledge and a sincere wish to be of service to mankind. If you’re merely curious about what goes on behind locked doors, just read the rest of this book.

    • Do you agree to follow the rules? Nothing especially scary here. Health clubs and city parks have the same requirement.

2018 NETFLIX:  Inside the Freemasons. The history and future of the Freemasons, a fraternal order steeped in both secrecy and tradition.  There are an estimated six million Freemasons in the world. It was started 300 years ago, the first lodge was the United Grand Lodge of England.

Conflict of Interest.  An issue that was raised in England is should Freemasons be required to disclose membership if they undertake some public role, (police, politics, lobby journalists, justice).   The intent of the disclosure is to assure the public that there is not a conflict of interest.  Freemasons are free to disclose their membership.

Dec 8, 2013Inside the secret world of the Freemasons, CBS Sunday Morning.


Additional Information


Community Meeting – Brown County Matters


Aug 25, 2018. 10 am to noon – Library.  Great discussion — it was a fast 2 hours.  Topics included the  local economy, tax policy, need for planning,  the impact of the drug epidemic  on people, culture, courts, police, economy and budgets, local and regional strategies to increase the economic opportunities for our citizens and the need for a community newsletter.

Below are the handouts that were provided regarding the economy and schedule of community meetings to discuss the State of the County  regarding economic development.

On income and property taxes, there is a relationship between the two, e.g, a decision regarding income taxes impacts what you can and cannot do with property taxes. Tax terms  I plan on learning more about:  circuit breaker, growth quotient, levy freeze.