Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Letters to the Editor

March 6, 2014

READER POINT OF VIEW: Cleaning up Indiana’s communities

The health and safety of families in Indiana has been one of my top priorities since I was elected to office. When looking at the different bills that the Indiana House has passed, one that I feel especially passionate about is House Bill 1141, which I co-authored. This piece of legislation focuses on methamphetamine and what legislators here at the Statehouse can do to begin cleaning up all that has been left in the wake of this poisonous drug.

Too many Hoosier communities are ravaged by meth, which tears families apart, endangers the health and safety of children, impoverishes neighborhoods, diminishes school districts, increases criminal activities and much more. Indiana is ranked third in the nation for the incredibly high amount of lab seizures, a ranking that is unacceptable to me as well as many of my fellow legislators. Within Elkhart and Kosciusko counties, I have seen the destruction from meth and the deteriorative effect in can have on a community.

My intention with HB 1141 is to create healthier, safer communities in Indiana.

This bill would enable the Indiana State Police to create a database that lists the different properties that have been affected by methamphetamine. Houses that have been both decontaminated and emptied would be included on this list as well. Additionally, the ISP would be able to keep a second list containing all properties that have been previously associated with the production of meth, even if it has already been taken off the public list.

Right now it is Indiana law that after a meth bust is made the police are required to directly contact the Indiana Department of Health who will oversee the evacuation and decontamination of the home. Unfortunately, this process can be very expensive, oftentimes with costs going well into the thousands to ensure that the home isn’t a health risk to the surrounding people and properties. Additionally, many times a blighted property will be vacant for months or even years, lowering property values and depreciating entire communities.

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

I think it’s a good idea to feed all the students free of charge
I think those who can afford it should pay for their school meals
I think all students should be required to pay for their school meals
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