To say that the local Republican party does not want to participate would be disingenuous. The party engages with Democrats all the time. Both parties participated in the: Cultural Center, The Parklands, Low Income Housing, Criminal Justice System, Cabby O’Neil Gym and Park.
I could go on with the list, but I need to cut to the chase. So far opposition to the Mid-States Corridor is it is not needed, and it will require a lot of landowners to give up their land to eminent domain. The opposition is not offering any solutions to the problems that need to be solved.
Major employers like Kimball, OFS, Jasper Engine, Jasper Group, Master Brand, Farbest, need better access to our national highway system to compete. These businesses employ tens of thousands of employees and those employees and businesses pay lots of taxes that the city and county use to operate. It would be devastating to our local economy if one or two of them would relocate.
Another issue: how to protect our city streets from 1200+ trucks daily, weighing 35,000-70,000 pounds from destroying our streets as they cut through our town? I moved here in 2006 and it has taken to 2020 just to get Newton Street drivable. To leave things as they are, the streets will be back to their old condition in no time.
Another issue: How to help Memorial Hospital maintain a position as a regional hospital, so we can have a high quality of care? “Annually, the hospital’s staff provides medical care for approximately 6,600 inpatients, 250,000 outpatients, 29,000 emergency patients, and 950 newborns.” The profit margins for hospitals are in the single digits so it requires a certain volume of patients to keep coming through the door. Lose a few major employers and their volume could drop and hurt the quality of care. It might be a safe bet to say that COVID-19, has hurt the profitability of Memorial Hospital.
To say eminent domain is evil would be to ignore the fact that every road in the county, at one time, was sold to the county or city via eminent domain. The house you live in is on a street taken by eminent domain. Patients come from multiple counties and further flood our streets. Quicker access to Jasper might even save lives.
I do not have a dog in the hunt. My family does not work here, we just live here. We love Jasper and Dubois County, and we will probably be buried here.
So, if you want the Republicans to engage, start offering solutions instead of opposition rallies. Jack Newton ran for office in 1964 because the Democrats would not offer solutions to growing businesses in the City of Jasper. He said, “the Democrats were apathetic.” He is arguably the greatest Republican in the City, not because he was a Republican but because he was a great problem solver. Since 1964, Jasper has had 4 Republican mayors and 2 Democrats. I can guarantee you that all of them were problem solvers.
Daryl Hensley, Jasper