The Wawascene was created by Dr. Mark Stock, former Superintendent of the Wawasee Community School Corporation. Due to its local popularity, Dr. Stock has left the blog site to future Wawasee administrators.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

School Board Meeting Highlights

At tonight's board meeting, the WCSC Board of School Trustees:

Heard from Lisa Glon, spokesperson for the Northern Lakes Area Concerned Citizens Association, a local group that has been publicly opposing the proposed ethanol plant near the town of Milford. The group asked the school board to consider writing a letter to the county commissioners expressing their concerns about the proposed location. Three members voted to send a letter opposing the plant and one member abstained stating that he didn't have enough information since the board only heard from those opposed.

Accepted donations from the Pamida Foundation, Shoop Foundation and Women of Today

Approved the minutes, claims and personnel items

Heard a report from the Dr. Stock titled, "The Top Ten Things You Might Not Know About Wawasee.... but won't hear on David Lettermen either."

Approved the financial report

Approved wage increases for certified and classified employees and the WCEA master agreement.

Heard a report from the superintendent on the months activities
Announced that the January meeting has been moved from the 9th to the 17th.


Anonymous said...

I have recently read stories of alot of people that are opposed to the ethanol plant. Why would the school system be opposed? Is it public safety issue or politics? I would think that we could use this as an opportunity to grow. This will attract people of higher education to our area and create a stonger economy.

Can I get a letter too? said...

I did not understand how the board members feel that their role is to set economic development policy or zoning policy for the area.

This action raises questions:

Will those in favor of the development and economic development be allowed to appear on the agenda?

Is the school board meeting subject to a fairness doctrine on public matters not involving education ?

Contrary to their belief, I do not vote to elect a school board to set broad economic policy for our community.

I vote to elect a school board to attend to the matters of public education, and I would appreciate it if they would focus on their job.

Anonymous said...

Can you share your top ten with all of us?

Anonymous said...

To: can I get a letter too?

Show up at the board meeting and make your case. It was a public meeting. A lot of people made time to be there and make their case. They were willing to answer the questions that you are now asking. It's too bad that instead of choosing to be involved in your community, you choose to sit on the sidelines and criticize.

Dr. Mark J. Stock said...

I can't speak for individual board members but... I can share that those board members who voted to send a letter stated in the meeting that they were not against the ethonal plant as much as they were opposed to the close proximity to the town limits and the fact that it was within one mile of Milford School.

can i get a letter (2) said...

1). When the agenda of the board meetings is published before the meetings, I can better plan my attendance. I would question whether those requesting the letter of support from the school board for their position attend every meeting.

2). This is one of those polarizing issues, like the death penalty or abortion. Were people on both sides of the issue available and willing to answer questions?

From the summary report, one member abstained, and the reason stated was the lack of balanced information.

So, yes I am being critical. Critical of board members for two reasons:

a). Taking a policital position at a single meeting with what appears to be limited fact finding.

b). Not representing or taking into consideration anyone but the vocal opponents of ethanol. Board members represent all the people of their districts, not just this splinter group.

This should have been tabled for a month to allow input and fact gathering. I will contact my board member and pass along my concerns on this matter.

And also it is incorrect to assume I am not involved in my community because I did not attend this single meeting.

From my perspective, (and I am not a resident of Milford) there is a group of citizens who have chosen to make this a lightning rod issue. That is a dangerous position to take.

When I see 'no ethanol' signs start to appear in Webster, I see a NIMBY chain reaction taking place.

The impact of the plant, both from the local Milford economy an on a larger scale, warrants greater, more balanced discussion than it has been allowed to have.

Anonymous said...

I initially agreed with the first two posts, but if this does negatively impact the school district, why wouldn't the board have a voice? Regardless of where you stand, we all know that property values will be affected based on aesthetics' alone. So, if property values have any impact on school funding or the overall physical health of a district is at risk, the school board should speak out.

Nancy Haines said...

This is in response to several of the messages posted. I am a mother of three children. One of my children attends Milford Elementary and two have yet to begin. I greatly appreciated Ms. Glon's voice as a representaive for the issues close to the hearts of many parents in the Milford/Syracuse area.
I attended the board meeting last evening. Economic and zoning issues were not addressed by Ms. Glon. She raised two main points of concern.
1. The health risks to our children from being exposed to the air pollution emissions.
2. The risk of leak or fire creating a planning burden on the school system.
She clearly stated that the stand that she and many parents are taking is NOT against ethanol production, but against the proposed site. It is much too close to our children while in school.
The proposed ethanol refinery has a potential negative impact on our children's health, safety, and well being. As parents, we entrust our children to the schools for 6+ hours a day and for 9 months out of the year. You bet this is a school board issue! I commend and applaud the school boards action and willingness to do their job!

Bill Appenzeller said...

In response to " can i get a letter too " I would say that every informational meeting regarding the proposed construction of the ethanol fuel refinery near Milford has been well advertised. Extensive fact finding has been done by numerous people and shared with anyone interested. Anyone that wants to discuss the issues is always welcome to share their views with us, including the company proposing the construction. However, very few have shown up, and the ethanol manufacturer has not responded to any correspondence.
So, as you can see, it is hard to listen to both sides when one side won't participate.
You say we have taken a dangerous postion by making this a lightening rod issue. All I can say is do some research on your own and see exactly what dangerous is. In my dictionary the definiton of dangerous is a ethanol fuel refinery.

and the letter is in the mail said...

Interesting comments, but I'm still a concerned school patron.

I don't have a problem with the School Board taking a political position. From my perspective, what is inappropriate it taking a political position on "one reading."

Why the rush to judgement?
To appease the madding crowd?

Local government has long followed a practice of three readings of an ordinance to facilitate comment and public input.

If the school board is now going to take on the broader role of fact finding and influencing public policy, they should not act in such haste.

At the risk of repeating my previous points, the agenda of the school board is not advertised or posted in advance. (And I'll add that my request for this courtesy and dissemination of useful information goes back several superintendents).

Be that as it may, you can't fight the system, so I'll surrender that point.

With regard to property values going down the crapper if an ethanol plant is built, Dr. Stock has already addressed this point: Wawasee ranks #2 in assessed valuation per student in the entire state.

Pull the AV numbers from the KCG website. Total up the AV of all the property likely to be affected by the plant. Calculate the percentage that represents of total assessed valuation for the district. You'll need a magnifying glass to find the impact on the school district.

Granted, for those who live in the immediate area, this is a big deal. Huge deal. Show stopping, pull out all the stops and do anything it takes deal. I conclude that this must be the reason the letter is in the mail.

With regard to Nancy Haines comment for the risk of leak or fire, the Big 4 rail line and SR 15 are much closer to the school than this site.

Both are public carrier routes that transport materials as hazardous or more so than the proposed ethanol plant. Read the placards on the rail cars the next time you wait on a train: liquid clorine, liquid sodium, sulphuric acid -- and by truck -- LP gas, liquid hydrogen.

Should they also be opposed, shut down and run out of town 'for the good of the children'?

I want a safe environment for our children too. But I also want to see a strong ag economy and less dependance on middle eastern oil.

As for Mr. Appenzellers definition of dangerous, that appears to be in the eye of the beholder, and warrants no further discussion.

I have been in Iowa and Minnesota, and saw a different set of pictures than his travelouge portrays.

While gas was $3 and higher in Indiana, E-85 was more reasonably priced in the land of corn.

So at the conclusion of this discussion, it appears that Milford is well on its way to becoming a true BANANA republic: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody.

Dr. Mark J. Stock said...

To clarify the point about advertising the school board agenda... state law requires posting the school board agenda in advance of the meeting. We have always done this. Wawasee also sends the agenda to all area media outlets and posts the actual agenda in hardcopy format outside the office doors visible to the public. Media outlets seldom if ever print the agendas even though they have the info. I presume this is because the agenda is not news - they do show up at the meeting and write up what happens.

Billappy said...

In response to "and the letter is in the mail" you seem to be a well-educated person. However, you need to educate yourself on ethanol production and use.Learn about the dangers involved in producing ethanol, including air, water, and ground pollution; the threat of spills, fires, and explosions; the increased traffic by trucks and trains.
After you have spent days studying this angle, then do some research on the real price of ethanol...not just the price at the pump. Research the subsidies involved in the whole process, then tell me what a bargain ethanol really is.
You are correct when you state there are many trains with hazardous materials being railed through our area. However, these materials are not produced, or handled, here. The major danger here comes from the production and handling process at the plant.
As for your quip about Milford becoming a BANANA republic, you are dead wrong. Just because we oppose the construction of a dangerous facility in our area, does not mean we are against viable economic development.
I don't know where you live( apparantly not Milford), but I can see you have a" out of sight, out of mind" attitude about this proposed facility.
Again, I urge you to do some research on your own. Perhaps you will find that such a facility might just affect you, and your family, in some way you hadn't thought of.

Brad Clayton said...

It seems that facts is what the people against the people of Milford are saying are out there. My question is where? As a student in the Plant and Soil Science department at Oklahoma State Univsersity I have yet to sit through any lecture in my studies that claims ethanol production is bad. Also, I have looked for backed scientific research claiming air pollution is a problem with ethanol production and there is none. Being from North Webster and spending my entire life there, I can say that the ethanol plant proposed for Milford will benefit the community in numerous ways. Currently ethanol production is one of the biggest pushes to get away from the foreign dependency of oil, and also it helps with the so called "global warming" issue so many out there are being led to believe is true. If global warming is true then why bash ethanol? Well it is because of the simple fact everyone wants cheaper fuels and better fuels but when it comes down to it, no one wants it in their backyard. The fact is I have been watching the letters and concerns of those in Milford and in northern Kosciusko county, and you haven't backed up a single complaint with hard data. The only thing I have heard from came from articles that are older than 10 years old. Anyone with any kind of scientific background knows that anything 10 years old or more is considered outdated and well useless.

Now I'm not saying that having an opionion is wrong, but why is the school board getting involved? Yes, the plant would be close to the schools, but it is no more a threat than any other type of industry. If your worried about a fire, there are other companies that could pose just as a threat or more than an ethanol plant. I will use Royal Crown as an example. The toxic fumes from the plastic and the black smoke plume it would make would be far more dangerous than some burning ethanol will.

Look at both sides before making judgement, and I would venture to say that Milford isn't doing that.

Lisa Glon said...

I'd like to clarify that I did not bash ethanol during my remarks to the school board; I focused only on health and safety issues considering the proximity of the site to the children of Milford and Syracuse. All of the information that I provided came from reports from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. For accuracy I used only information that dated no earlier than April 2005. Hopefully we can trust those agencies to be factual.

I'm willing to share the full text of my remarks from that evening with anyone who'd like to read them. You can contact me at with a mailing address or email.

I think I'll write a letter (3) said...

Taking Mr. Appenzeller's advice, I re-read the past several weeks of the Mail-Journal.

I did not find that particularly educational, but then again, I recall the headline story a few years ago was about the haunted old North Webster school. I will consider the source where the Mail-Journal is involved, even though I am a distinguised alumi of Baumgartner U.

Tonight, the Mrs. and I went out to dinner. Came home thru Milford. Counted about 50 or so NO ETHANOL signs.

We went to see some friends in Milford, to 'educate ourselves'. I also started looking on-line for reports of exploding ethanol plants in Iowa. For Iowa or Minnesota DOE stats that would point to lower test scores from exposure to Ethanol. Perhaps these stories are beneath the radar of Google and Lexis/Nexis.

Looked up the story of Phil Beer on channel 22, and thought about his family relationships and whether his statements were true representations of the town, who he implied he represented.

I also thought about some of the other dangerous elements near Milford, like the Dome Pipeline (now BP) facility on the near north side on CR 1350. That certainly seems to be inside the 5.5 mile 'protect the children radius', a fact that seems to be ommited by the NO ETHANOL group.

I assume the danger of 'inevitable explosions' cited my Mr. Appenzeller must not affect pipelines, only ethanol plants.

I also got to see a meeting notice with a fund raiser message at the bottom that was sent home with Milford students last week. From school. By the school corp.

So let me make sure I understand this fully:

1). The meeting notice that ran in last week's M-J seems inconsistent with this week's story. The ad says 'only one person may speak' but the report states many people spoke.

2). Dr. Stock reports that the agenda of the meeting is posted, (as I know it is) on the glass by the front door of the admin office.

Tonight, I see that it is on the school corp website. I'll admit that my not knowing what was on the agenda is 100% my responsibility.

What I'm less clear on is that the agenda item does not state that the Board would be taking final action in the form of offering the official position of the school corp on this public policy matter.

Other agendas show 'grouped action items' or 'consideration and approval'. This is a pretty consistent style throughout the agendas.

3). There is nothing about this agenda item listing that would lead me to conclude it was an 'action item'.

4). I also did not see anything in the previous minutes that would lead to the conclusion that authorization was given to send home a fundraising notice for the Northern Lakes Area Concerned Citizens Association.

I'm more than curious by what statutory or board authority this group has access to the students of Milford for a send-home fundraiser.

Does anybody and everybody have access to the Milford students as political pawns?

So I now have 'educated' myself, as suggested, and I think I will take my questions to the Indiana Department of Education when I'm in Indy next week. I'm sure they can expand on my education there, or perhaps someone in the Lt. Governor's office can be of help. They seem to be somewhat knowledgable about E-85 too.

And Ms. Glon, you have a website - - perhaps you can post your comments there with the other materials. I would like to read them.

I'm not sure how much credence I put in something on a web address, but the Internet is sure full of stuff.

Some of the more credible citations don't seem to have the word Ethanol in them, but I'm sure that's just an oversight.

The WNDU story dated 2002 on New Energy in South Bend seems to cast a more favorable light on their pro-active testing for VOC, so I'm surprised this link is on the website. Probably another oversight.

With regard to VOCs, I certainly hope no one measures those types of emmissions anywhere near Rinker Boat, which would sure be a lot closer to Wawasee High School than a mile. Is there a seperate group banging the gong for the safety of the children at every school?

If so, they have a 5 alarm condition at WHS.

With regard to the EPA / DOE and trust, I offer this word: MTBE

So, I still have questions, and I am still critical of the school board for action taken to have my school district send a letter to the commissioners in opposition.

I conclude that there have been several actions taken and allowed that are wholly inappropriate.

But it seems to be just another day in the BANANA repuplic.

Anonymous said...

I would just like to say that the ethanol plant has nothing to do with the schools in this area. The only schools that would be in danger is the high school and Syracuse Elementary because of either Dana or Rinker Boats catching fire. So why should we be worried about the ethanol plant when really it is the other plants in Syracuse that we should really be worried about.

hopeful said...

I believe that an irrational fear has taken root in our school corp especially Milford - and lack of education is to blame. I agree with "I think I'll write a letter (3)" completely. I know that people are resistant to change - but change is good - we must grow and change or die. Let's not put blinders on ignorantly - let's be big enough to dismiss hearsay and rumor and fearful rants - and truly educate ourselves.