Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

December 12, 2012

Letters to the editor - Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012

The city of Kokomo definitely is on a roll

It is no secret that the vibrancy of any city is reflected in its core. In Kokomo, that core is our downtown. It holds the heritage of the past success of our city, as well as the promise of future prosperity. What we see unfolding in our downtown today should make everyone in the community proud and optimistic.

The aesthetic improvements alone, such as the flowers, signage, and general cleanup of properties both public and private, is a testament that Kokomo is open for business and ready to grow.

More importantly, the renewed focus and investment of creating quality places are spreading throughout all corners of the city.

We now have amenities in Kokomo such as a common gathering place in Foster Park for concerts and festivals that continues to grow and expand every year, growth of our bike paths, a renewed central library facility, and new restaurants and retail downtown are already creating a buzz in our urban core that was missing a few years ago.

While these great improvements show how well our community can pull together through difficult times and build on its assets, we should recognize that those assets are actually the vision of previous generations of leaders left to us as our inheritance. It’s time for us to be bold in creating new assets for future generations to grow, leverage and build on.

The new YMCA project is the catalyst in building that kind of legacy for this generation. It is clear that our city leaders understand its importance by leading the effort to build a parking garage in advance to not only support the YMCA traffic needs, but to build a foundation for overall growth in downtown.

A recent editorial in The Republic of Columbus, Ind., tells the story of how the three parking garages in its downtown in the past five years have not solved parking issues.

Instead, it has created the need for more parking, as more jobs, more visitors, more traffic and economic prosperity continues to flow downtown now that the right investments to accommodate such growth are in place.

It is that viewpoint that we need to take in looking at our downtown projects. They are not meant to just meet current or past needs, but to build for the future, to create future growth and supply future needs and develop assets that will attract the talent needed for the next generation of innovators, producers, job seekers and leaders we will need to sustain and foster long-term growth and prosperity.

We are on the brink of doing something special in Kokomo. I want to thank the city officials for getting the project off to a good start and their willingness to be bold by continuing to lead efforts that will ultimately ensure Kokomo is poised for growth in the next century.

Also, a big thank-you to the county council and administration for announcing early their plans to invest in the YMCA project over the next five years.

Their announcement demonstrates the recognition that these downtown projects are the key to building our future, anchoring a strong urban core for what Kokomo plans to become rather than simply in protecting our past.

Kokomo is on a roll, and it feels good.

Bryan T. Bitner, Kokomo

Humanists want full equality under law

In the state of Indiana, you have the right as a Christian to have a cleric or reverend perform your wedding ceremony.

If you are Jewish, you have the right of a rabbi to perform it. The same for every other religion.

But if you are a humanist, you are out of luck if you want a fellow humanist or a member of a humanist group to perform the wedding ceremony. The only option you have is to go to a government official.

Though you might want more then that, you are denied because under Indiana law only clerics or certain government officials can do it.

This is an example of the government favoring religion over non-religion.

Why aren’t any humanist celebrants allowed to perform the ceremony? The Center for Inquiry (a humanist group in the U.S.) supports the rights of humanists, atheists and other non-religious people to get married in a wedding where humanist values are celebrated – just as there are weddings that celebrate Christian, Jewish or Islamic values.

Humanists such as I just want full equality under the law, as any other group, be it in Indiana or the nation as a whole.

Shaun Slack, Kokomo