When in need of a break, John Scott Foster, executive director of the Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve, has the unique opportunity to get up from his desk and take a walk in the woods.
“This is just such a fabulous place,” he says of the old growth forest located at 551 N. Boeke Road. “It’s so incredibly beautiful, and it’s so incredibly beautiful all the time.”
Foster grew up in Norfolk, Virginia, and completed his undergraduate studies at Virginia Tech. He also holds a master’s degree in zoology and a Ph.D. in museum studies from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. After graduation, he said he followed a friend’s advice “that you should never be in one job more than a single driver’s license time period.” He first worked at a nature center outside of Atlanta before moving on to zoos, working with the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester, New York, the Indianapolis Zoo, and New York State Zoo in Watertown, New York, before he realized he wished to return to a nature center.
“I love zoos, but the longer I was in the zoo world, the more I thought about my first job at a nature center,” says Foster. “I realized then that was really where my heart was.”
Five years ago, he interviewed for the position of executive director at Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve and it’s been a job he’s enjoyed ever since.
City View: What have been your main objectives here at Wesselman since you’ve started?
John Scott Foster: When I got here, the society had just taken over management of the preserve, the nature center, and Howell Wetlands from the city. What was pressing was that we needed to figure out what we needed to be and what we needed to do for the community. The long and short of it is that the 1,000-square-foot exhibit hall has been empty for four years. We needed to move a renovation forward. The work is underway on the new exhibits and nature center renovations, and we’ll have a grand opening in March.
Also we really wanted to elevate our presence within the community and have people aware of who we are, and to create experiences and opportunities that were meaningful and relevant.
CV: What do you feel is your biggest achievement in the last five years?
JSF: I would say one of the biggest things we have done is raised $1.5 million to make these improvements; the new exhibits, the new entrance, and the trail system.
The other thing I find exhilarating is between the board and staff, we have such an incredible team of people. They’re creative, they collaborate well, and they’re excited about what we’re doing.
CV: What do you hope is in the future for Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve?
JSF: We want to reach a level of financial sustainability where we can take on programs that are very mission driven, that may not generate income. And, we’re always looking for opportunities to collaborate with different organizations in the community — just good partnerships — and to be able to maximize the reach that we have within the community.
Our mission applies to everybody — we want to create experiences that connect people with nature. There is not a soul alive who doesn’t benefit from that.
CV: What is the best thing about Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve?
JSF: One of the coolest things about this place is that it’s easy. Because of society today, we have so little free time. So one of the beautiful things about this is it’s in the middle of Evansville. It’s just an easy way to be able to take a break.
If you have a connection to nature … it adds to the quality of your life because it provides you opportunity to think or to be introspective or to consider who you are and what you are in the world. Or just not to think, just to enjoy.
For more information about Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve, call 812-479-0771 or visit wesselmannaturesociety.org.
On the Move
When Barb Dykstra was about to graduate from the University of Evansville in 1986, the sports management major and star basketball player realized she couldn’t bear to say goodbye to the athletics world. (Dykstra is now a member of UE’s Athletics Hall of Fame and remains the Lady Aces’ fourth leading scorer of all time.) After graduation, she took a job with the YMCA of Southwestern Indiana working the front desk, helping with youth programs, and officiating basketball games at the Downtown YMCA.
"I kept my foot in the door as opportunities arose,” says the Evansville native and Reitz High School graduate, and the strategy has worked out well. Over the last three decades, Dykstra has held various leadership positions with the Y, and in 2013 she became branch executive director of the Dunigan Family YMCA on Evansville’s East Side.
The YMCA served more than 45,000 people in 2014, and it offers a mind-boggling array of programs and events: fitness classes, after-school activities, childcare, an overnight summer camp (Camp Carson in Princeton, Indiana), a boxing program for individuals with Parkinson’s disease, a diabetes prevention program, triathlons and road races, and more. In 2016, the Y will further expand its offerings by adding Sh’Bam, a dance-based fitness trend with classes set to hip-hop and pop hits, and LiveStrong, a physical activity program for cancer survivors.
City View: What drew you to the YMCA?
Barb Dykstra: I had been around athletics almost my whole life, and one career was ending, so something else was looming. I met with the folks at the Y about opportunities to stay active in sports and athletics. I graduated in 1986, so there wasn’t much for women above and beyond the collegiate level. Not that I could have gone any further (with my basketball career), but I still was very active-minded and liked basketball and youth sports, so it was a natural fit.
CV: What are the biggest changes you’ve seen at the YMCA since you started working there 30 years ago?
BD: Our outreach department has just exploded with programs and activities for kids in low-income families. That’s one of the things that keeps the Y vibrant and alive, and continuing to move forward. Our youth outreach program is involved in summer learning loss programs, for example, which are designed to help kids during the summer to make sure they have maintained or exceeded their reading level. There’s a true focus on education.
CV: What’s one YMCA event or program for the community that stands out to you?
BD: Team 13 is a training program that helps people reach the goal of running or walking the Evansville Half Marathon. A few things make it special to me: that the volunteers are passionate about helping others, the stories and the reasons why people are involved, and the relationships that are built. To be there at the end (of the race) and watch someone who thought they’d never do this walk in and have runners and walkers meet them for the last tenth of a mile is pretty awesome.
CV: What is a hidden gem of the YMCA?
BD: The people and the relationships we build. Those same stories that happen in Team 13 happen in our aquatics department, in our wellness center, in our lobby. Whether people have lost weight, met a health or well-being goal, or have met somebody they can talk to and have a cup of coffee with in the lobby, those stories are there every day. We touch people in so many ways.
For more information on the YMCA of Southwestern Indiana, visit ymcaswin.org.
In 2015, Evansville residents took to the polls in November to decide on who would be mayor of the city for the next four years. Up against competition from Democrat Gail Riecken and Independent Steve Wozniak, incumbent mayor Lloyd Winnecke would win his re-election bid with more than 60 percent of the vote, landing his second term in the top city seat. Evansville City View sat down with the mayor and asked him about plans for his second term, what he loves most about the city, and more.
City View: What are you most excited about in your second term?
Lloyd Winnecke: Looking out into our second term, I look forward to the big, well-publicized projects being completed. Weather permitting, construction on our convention hotel will be done late this year. Across Sixth Street from the hotel will be the new Indiana University Medical School, arguably the most transformative project in our community since the formation of the University of Southern Indiana 50 years ago. It’s slated to open for classes in January of 2018.
Also this year, we anticipate work beginning on a new land-based casino at Tropicana Evansville. This project is important for many reasons, not the least of which is that Tropicana will be the first Indiana casino to take advantage of the new state law allowing land-based casino activity. This will provide Tropicana with an important competitive advantage.
We’ll also see the makeover of North Main Street in our second term. This exciting project represents not only an important investment in the Jacobsville neighborhood, but is a great example of how the City of Evansville partners with its neighborhood associations. When complete, each of these projects will contribute to the vitality of our city.
Our second term also will see great work being done on our Regional Cities Initiative. Greg Wathen, Sabrina Newton, Audrie Burkett, and others with the Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana have done a masterful job of overseeing this effort. The $42 million in state money that is associated with our Regional City recognition will leverage other public and private investment for projects in the City of Evansville as well as in Posey, Gibson, and Warrick counties. The idea is that the dynamic projects in each community will help to transform our region into an even more attractive destination for young people, thus dramatically improving the quality of our workforce.
Equally important in our second term, will be our work to eliminate blight. We have identified 1,800 blighted residential properties in the city. Kelley Coures and Carolyn Rusk in the Department of Metropolitan Development have crafted a bold plan to help our community turn the tide against blight. By partnering with the City Council, we hope to expand the role of the Brownfield Board to make it a larger, more efficient land bank operation. This will be a multi-year effort that will, over time, drastically improve the quality of housing in the city, while at the same time making our neighborhoods safer.
CV: What have you enjoyed most about being mayor?
LW: The thing I enjoy most about being mayor is knowing I have a role in solving problems. Some are large, community-wide issues while others are more neighborhood focused. Sitting down with fellow residents to figure how best to proceed on a given task or issue is immensely rewarding. I also take great pleasure in visiting our schools. Students offer great perspective and ask questions that make me, in one minute, laugh out loud and in the next, force me to search deep for an acceptable answer.
CV: What is the best thing about Evansville?
LW: I believe the best thing about Evansville is its citizens. People have offered to help since before I took office and they haven’t stopped. Residents have a deep love and affection for Evansville, and they want to see it grow. I love it when people offer us new ideas, and it seems as though everyone will serve on a board or committee if asked. It’s reassuring to know that so many people care so deeply about our city.
For more information about the City of Evansville, visit evansvillegov.org.
Swimming to Success
Lilly King says she considers herself a normal college student. But, unlike most of her fellow classmates at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, King holds a spot on the 2015-16 USA Swimming Women’s national team in the 100-meter breaststroke. The 18-year old finished second in the 100-meter breaststroke and won the national title in the 200-meter breaststroke in USA Swimming’s Winter National Championships Dec. 4.
“I’m just doing the usual college kid stuff,” says King.
King earned her spot on the national team at the beginning of her senior year at F.J. Reitz High School. To qualify, she had to post a time that ranked in the top six of the Olympic event. Her time of 1:06.43 broke a school record and is ranked second best in the 100-meter breaststroke by current national team swimmers and sixth in the world.
When Evansville Living last spoke to her in “Swimming to the Top” in the May/June 2013 issue, she was 16 years old balancing her career as a high-level swimmer with school and extracurricular activities. Today, the juggle between school and swim continues, except at a higher level.
“Every day, I get up really early — about 5 a.m. — for swim practice for two hours, then weights or rowing, then class until noon, then back to practice at 3 p.m.,” says King, who is ranked first in the 100-meter breaststroke on the college team. She recently broke the Indiana school and U.S. National 17-18 Age Group record in the 200-meter breaststroke.
This is an exciting time for King with Olympic trials set for this summer in Omaha, Nebraska.
“It’s exciting, but it’s also a bit nerve-wracking,” she says. “I have to constantly make sure I’m doing everything I can to hopefully make the Olympic team in June. It’s a lot of pressure on myself, but I’m really excited for my first Olympic trials.”
For more information about USA Swimming, visit usaswimming.org.
The Living Record
With each passing year we mourn and celebrate the lives lost of those members of the community who made a difference in their places of work, to civic organizations, and to their families and others. We pored through death records and obituaries to find notable men and women who helped shape the Tri-State through their contributions.
Phyllis Bonn Ruthenburg, 95 — Jan. 1, 2015
A nationally ranked competitive runner until age 80, Phyllis had a personal trainer up until her death at 95 years old. The Evansville resident was born in Portland, Maine, and became a popular fitness instructor in the River City. She loved to sing and dance, including dancing on ice skates in figure skating competitions.
George Bennett, 89 — Jan. 2, 2015
In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established a presidential directive allowing African-Americans the opportunity to be recruited into the Marine Corps. George received his training at Montford Point, a facility at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and remained there until World War II was over. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor as one of the original Montfort Point Marines; the original medal is displayed at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. He also was granted the key to the City of Evansville. He was the first African-American golfer to qualify for the City Golf Tournament.
Helen Roberta Mulzer, 84 — Jan. 2, 2015
As a longtime member and supporter of the Evansville YWCA, Roberta swam with their synchronized swimming group for more than 40 years. She taught crochet classes for 10 years at the YWCA and made many crocheted afghans. She was the president of the Edgar and Roberta Mulzer Foundation, which supports local charities and community programs in Perry, Spencer, and Crawford counties. Nearly every day, she baked a pie, cake, or cookies, while her cat of 18 years, Sassy, watched.
Sally Kincaid Diaz, 80 — Jan. 3, 2015
The 1953 Bosse High School graduate used her experience working on the newspaper and the yearbook to land her a position on The Evansville Press at age 17. During Sally’s early years of reporting, she developed a full page of news about Evansville’s “Teen Scene,” which became a weekly feature. She also took photographs, many of which were sent by wire service for use in other newspapers. After 22 years of working for the paper, she became clerk treasurer of Newburgh, Indiana. She was awarded the key to the Town of Newburgh, and was designated a Sagamore of the Wabash, the highest distinction in Indiana.
James “Tim” Dempsey, 53 — Jan. 6, 2015
Tim played the drums and recorded his first album with the late Little Jimmy Dickens. In 1997, the Atlanta native was inducted into the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame for his contributions to country music. The Henderson, Kentucky, resident’s favorite number was seven, which he wore on sports jerseys and carefully planned his wedding to be on July 7, 2007.
Karen Marie Ault, 49 — Jan. 13, 2015
Karen spent many years participating in the Special Olympics and various other events. The Evansville native retired from Evansville ARC on Kotter Avenue after more than 20 years of service. A 1985 Harrison High School graduate, Karen enjoyed crafts, moving, joking with friends, traveling, and drinking diet cokes.
Stanley Robert Ballard, 79 — Jan. 20, 2015
As an Evansville native, Stanley was the original owner and operator of the Stan’s Una Pizza West. He was a graduate of Bosse High School and served for 12 years in the Navy Reserve. Stanley retired from Industrial Contractors, where he worked as a sheet metal fabricator and welding journeyman.
Jacqueline S. Coleman, 75 — Feb. 3, 2015
A teacher with the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. for 20 years, Jackie was dedicated to making her students successful. She received the Reading Teacher of the Year Award in 1996. The Evansville native still holds the 100-yard dash school record at Washington Middle School.
Logan Brown, 15 — March 14, 2015
Fifteen-year-old Logan was killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver. He attended F.J. Reitz High School and played baseball and football, was a school mentor for school athletics, and was on the “A” Honor Roll. He dreamed of becoming an airplane pilot and attending the University of Tennessee. Out of the tragedy, family and friends have created an organization called Logan’s Promise to help halt drinking and driving.
Marilyn Durham, 84 — March 19, 2015
A bestselling author, Marilyn wrote three novels, including “The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing” (1972), “Dutch Uncle” (1973), and “Flambard’s Confession” (1982). “The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing” was adapted into a film released in 1973, starring Burt Reynolds and Sarah Miles. The Evansville native worked as an instructor for McGraw-Hill’s Continuing Education Center for more than 10 years.
Diane G. Casalena, 67 — April 10, 2015
Diane served as the general manager of Turoni’s Pizzery where she retired in 2009 after 41 years of service. She worked at both the N. Main Street and Weinbach locations. A North High School graduate, she was known as a hard worker and a loyal employee. She was an avid reader and loved traveling with her cousin and best friend Hazel Enrici.
Roy C. Cobb, 93 — May 15, 2015
A business computer pioneer, Roy established one of the first automated payroll systems in Southern Indiana. Noted for embracing technology throughout his life, the Whiting, Indiana, native started his accounting career working for Arthur Anderson in New York City. He later moved to Evansville and began his own accounting firm. He retired at the age of 70 in 1991 selling his firm to Riney Hancock CPAs.
Lonnie Gayle Albin, 76 — June 4, 2015
Lonnie graduated from F.J. Reitz High School in 1956, and played baseball at the University of Evansville. In 1962, he took his first job at Rockport High School teaching chemistry. He later worked as a math teacher at his alma mater Reitz, and coached golf, cross country, track, and baseball. He earned his master’s degree from Indiana University, and also taught at Central Evening School and the University of Southern Indiana.
Emmy Lou Dennis, 82 — July 25, 2015
A long-time Newburgh, Indiana, resident, Emmy Lou Dennis was an honorary member of the Newburgh Women’s Club where she held the position of president twice and was a parliamentarian for 30 years. She held various positions on the boards of Historic Newburgh and the Park Board. She was presented a key to the town in 1990, and Emmy Lou Dennis Day was held on Nov. 9, 2013. On her 80th birthday, a Newburgh park was renamed Lou Dennis Community Park for her unwavering commitment to the construction of the Fortress of Fun and for serving on the Park Board for 30 years.
Rayma Cook Carter, 66 — July 30, 2015
Evansville native Rayma became the first female mayoral assistant in Evansville under Michael D. Vandeveer from 1983 until 1986. Rayma’s career success as an executive assistant led her to companies such as Mead Johnson, Channel 7, Indiana University Medical, and Citizens Nation Bank, which later became Fifth Third Bank. She also opened the first plant shop in Downtown Evansville, called The Gazebo. The 1966 North High School graduate loved plants, flowers, and animals, especially dogs.
DeMarco Hampton, 52 — Aug. 19, 2015
DeMarco helped to found Our Times, a newspaper providing a voice for the African-American community in Evansville, and served as its advertising and production director for nearly 32 years. While in this position, he volunteered his design and marketing talents to many nonprofits, as well as launching the Evansville African American Museum, Inc., which honored him with a lifetime membership award. Known for his love of social and arts venues of the city, he landed a spot on the front cover of Evansville Living in the September/October 2001 issue.
Stephen P. Small, 65 — Sept. 6, 2015
As a life-long learner, Steve graduated from Bosse High School in 1968 and from the University of Evansville in 1976. He took additional acting courses at the University of Southern Indiana under Scott LaFeber and Elliot Wasserman, while studying secondary education, and under Jon David Lutz, R. Scott Lank, and Dr. Dudley Thomas at UE. He worked in various positions for Welborn Hospital before leaving to be the public relations director and fundraiser for the American Red Cross of Southern Indiana. He received his teaching degree at USI and taught at Bosse High School. Steve was a fervent fan of William Shakespeare and performed for many years at the Evansville Civic Theatre, UE, USI, and New Harmony Theatre.
James J. Donahue III, 63 — Sept. 15, 2015
A 1970 graduate of Reitz Memorial High School and Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, James was employed by his family’s business Donahue Studios, Inc., a photography studio archiving historic and illustrative pictures. It was at the family business where the Evansville native developed his love for vintage photographs. Later, he was employed at Schultze Printing and managed his own graphic design and printing business. He published a book titled Donahue Studios Commercial Photographers: 1940s Photographs and created a website to archive his work online at donahuestudiosphotographs.com.
Robert Glaser, 72 — Sept. 19, 2015
Robert, born in Chicago, retired after 42 years of service as the director of recreation at the Evansville State Hospital. As a graduate of the University of Evansville, he was active in athletics for the Aces playing four years of football and two years of baseball. He received his master’s degree from Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana. After college, the Newburgh, Indiana, resident served as the assistant football coach for the university for many years. He was inducted into the UE Football Hall of Fame in 1981.
Dave Lyons, 59 — Oct. 11, 2015
For the past 35 years, Dave was a news reporter for WIKY in Evansville and was an accomplished radio news announcer winning many awards. He enjoyed watching sports, especially the Chicago Cubs and Blackhawks, and was an avid golfer who played at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Dave was a committed volunteer with the Southwestern Indiana Suicide Prevention Coalition and
many other charities.
Helena Berfanger Davis, 93 — Oct. 16, 2015
During World War II, Helena worked for Republic Aviation as a “Rosie the Riveter” on the P-47 planes, Emge Packing Plant, and Seeger Sunbeam. The Haubstadt, Indiana, native also worked as an upholsterer at Bartels Furniture. She donated her time as a quilter at church. She and her husband Edward Davis were members of St. Anthony Catholic Church for 42 years, and she was a member of St. Theresa Catholic Church for 20.
Arthur A. Gann, 69 — Oct. 20, 2015
For 29 years, Arthur served as an Evansville Police Officer and retired in 1998, after eight years as Chief of Police. After retiring, he was director of security of Bristol Myers and Mead Johnson until 2013. He served as the president of the Fraternal Order of Police on both the state and local levels, and was a past president for the Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police.
Carmen Stuart, 90 — Nov. 8, 2015
Carmen was the first woman awarded the F.J. Reitz High School band’s first chair for clarinet. The Evansville native sang professionally at the McCurdy Hotel, Trocadero Club, and the Colonial Club with prominent bandleader Charlie Kroner. In 1947, she moved to New York City to live with her aunt on Park Avenue and attended the Barbizon School for Modeling while working floor shows at nightclubs in New York, Montreal, Boston, and New Orleans. She performed twice on “Ted Mack Amateur Hour,” a TV show begun in 1948. In 1954, she played the lead role in Guy Lombardo’s “Arabian Nights” off Broadway for three seasons. The New York Times gave several sensational reviews of the performance. She was signed as a feature performer on the ocean liner S.S. Brazil.
Kurt Kluger, 88 — Nov. 27, 2015
In 1964, Kurt established the iconic Newburgh Country Store, where he was proprietor until his retirement in 2007. The Newburgh, Indiana, resident was a World War II Navy veteran and served on the USS Sangay. He attended the University of Evansville where he met his wife Marilyn Marshall of 65 years.
Christine Alvey, 94 — Nov. 29, 2015
As a single mother of five boys, Chris worked for many years as a waitress in various local restaurants serving at the old Jackson House for 20 years. A native of Marion, Kentucky, she moved to Evansville in 1953. She found a rewarding second career as a Foster Grandparent, working for another 20 years as “Grandma Chris” at St. Vincent’s Day Care on First Avenue. She was named the Foster Grandparent of the Year by the State of Indiana. The City of Evansville held a Christine Alvey Day in 2001 for her community service.
Let the Good Times Roll
It’s a city with many nicknames. “The Big Easy,” “Crescent City,” and “The City That Care Forgot.”
New Orleans is complicated — a city of contrasts. Its reputation as a place to party is well earned. However, there is a lot more to NOLA than the Mardi Gras, so locals deny it is a festival of beads, boobs, and booze.
Founded by the French, ruled for a time by the Spanish, and part of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, New Orleans is a cultural stew of the traditional, the mystical, and the modern.
Each Sunday morning in the St. Louis Cathedral, located in the French Quarter’s Jackson Square, there is Sunday mass. As the doors to the cathedral open, the smoky smell of incense seeps outside where more than a dozen fortune tellers, psychics, seers, and street performers line the area outside the church, offering a more exotic type of belief.
One street performer, calling herself La Katina de la Plaza, wears a yellow, flowing lace dress, a crown of roses, and sports a parasol. Her face is studded with several jewels; glittering eye shadow and what appear to be stitches are painted across her mouth and cheeks. She doesn’t want to explain her name or her character. She only will pose for “tips.”
The French Quarter is a 78-square block area. As the oldest neighborhood in the city, it is 13 blocks long and six blocks deep. The narrow bricked and cobblestone streets are lined with iron lamps, beautifully preserved examples of Spanish architecture that include courtyard gardens and ornate iron railings lining two- and three-story balconies.
The Quarter is anchored by Jackson Square, named for President Andrew Jackson who, along with a coalition of pirates, free blacks, and Tennessee Volunteers, routed the British in the last battle of the War of 1812. Along the outside perimeter of the square, local artists display their wares. Across from Jackson Square is Café du Monde, famous for its café au lait and beignets, which are square pieces of dough that are fried, covered with powdered sugar, and sold in threes. The Jackson Square location is open 24 hours, seven days a week, closing only Christmas Eve and Dec. 26.
The French Quarter often is associated with Bourbon Street, a tacky, over-sold area crowded with bars, hawking what tastes like alcohol-infused slushies. But one block over is Royal Street, lined with art galleries, high-end clothing, and restaurants that are a foodie’s dream.
Brennan’s, a Royal Street restaurant that moved from Bourbon Street in 2014, claims to have invented the “boozy brunch,” and the daily breakfast menu includes a list of “eye openers,” as well as turtle soup, corned duck hash, and artisanal eggs benedict with housemade English muffins. Brennan’s also states the original owner, Owen Brennan, invented Bananas Foster, which the restaurant creates tableside.
Within walking distance of Brennan’s, on Dauphine Street, is Bayona. Nestled in a 200-year-old cottage, Lonely Planet travel guide names the restaurant “the best splurge in the quarter.” Chef-owner Susan Spicer, a finalist in Bravo channel’s “Top Chef” in 2009, changes the menu daily. Recent examples include smoked salmon beignets, veal sweet breads, and roasted duck breast with buckwheat noodles.
Just outside the French Quarter, in the Central Business District, is Café Adelaide and The Swizzle Stick Bar, a Brennan family tribute to an eccentric aunt whose three oversized portraits take up one wall of the restaurant. Adelaide’s menu includes shrimp and okra gumbo, tasso-brined double cut pork chop, and for dessert, a white chocolate biscuit pudding with root beer syrup.
While the food in New Orleans is a big draw, the No. 1 place visited is the National WWII Museum, located in the Warehouse/Arts District. According to a press release, the museum had more than 483,000 visitors in fiscal 2014.
The museum, founded by historian and author Stephen Ambrose, sits on six acres and is composed of five pavilions. One of the highlights of this excellent facility is the 4D movie, “Beyond All Boundaries.” Produced and narrated by actor Tom Hanks, the movie parallels WWII events in both Europe and Asia, giving the viewer a comprehensive idea of how America was fighting a two-front war. With lots of advanced special effects and archival footage, this is a must-see, ideally before touring the rest of the museum.
Another highlight of the museum is the Boeing Center in the U.S. Freedom Pavilion, which houses air and motor crafts used during the war. For the best view, climb to the fourth floor viewing bridge to see the aircraft illuminated by a 96-foot glass wall.
The aircraft are suspended at different heights, including a Dauntless dive bomber which has a unique split wing/dive brake that allowed for dive attacks at up to a 70-degree angle. The Dauntless became a symbol of American resurgence after the Pearl Harbor attack. Also on display is an F4U-4 Corsair, which is considered to be one of the most effective fighter aircrafts. The Corsair has an inverted “gull wing,” designed to help the propellers clear the ground. Visitors also can view a P-51 Mustang which one WWII pilot described as “an answer to the bomber boys prayers … The mustang is the miracle plane that turned the tide of the air war.”
After the Boeing Center, visit the immersive gallery, “The Road to Berlin,” which illustrates American battles in Europe. Beginning with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor pulling the U.S. into the war, “The Road to Berlin” includes a well-executed explanation and demonstration of the initial setbacks suffered by the U.S. in North Africa. Audio of bombs exploding and pilots trying to communicate, give visitors an idea of the confusion and chaos of war.
A similar gallery, “Road to Tokyo,” which opened in 2015, retraces the battles of the Pacific theater from Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay, by way of New Guinea and Southeast Asia, the Himalayas, Burma, the islands of the Pacific, China, India, and Alaska.
For a taste of Mardi Gras without the crowds, take the 45-minute tour of Mardi Gras World, located near the convention center. A working warehouse, a tour guide describes how the floats are designed and constructed for Mardi Gras, as well as other major parades.
The figures on the floats are called “props” and start as a base of Styrofoam, which are then covered with papier mache. According to the guide, in 2015 there were 54 different Mardi Gras parades, starting 11 days before “Fat Tuesday.” Mardi Gras ends at midnight on that Tuesday, with the start of Ash Wednesday.
New Orleans is a city with a fascinating history. The place has a vibe of being in almost constant celebration. Chris Rose, a columnist for the Times-Picayune, described New Orleans’ residents as the following: “We dance even if there’s not a radio. We drink at funerals. We talk too much and laugh too loud and live too large and frankly, we’re suspicious of those who don’t.” Or in the words of the French — Laissez les bons temps rouler! (Let the good times roll!)
New Orleans Tips
The New Orleans airport is about 30-miles west of the central part of the city. The fare for a taxi to downtown is a flat $36 for one to two people. The airport shuttle is less expensive, has frequent service between the airport and downtown, but can be time consuming particularly if your hotel is the last stop.
1. The airport needs a serious upgrade. Be aware that bathrooms are not numerous and can be tricky to locate.
2. New Orleans, like all major cities, has a homeless population. Some homeless people are verbally, but not physically aggressive in asking for handouts.
3. It is best to walk in groups of at least two after dark.
4. New Orleans allows open containers of alcohol. Don’t be surprised to see people walking along the street in the morning having a beer. Some bars are open 24-hours a day.
5. Pedicabs, human powered bicycles with seating for two, are a great way to see the French Quarter, which has narrow, winding streets. Mule-powered carriage rides also are available.
6. Bring comfortable shoes. New Orleans is pedestrian friendly.
When You Go:
• New Orleans
• French Quarter
• The National WWII Museum — 504-528-1944
• Mardi Gras World — 504-361-7821
• 2016 Mardi Gras
• VIP Tours — 504-329-CITY
• Tour New Orleans
In the Limelight
All the best works of art — and people — begin with a story.
It’s a lesson Henderson, Kentucky, native Greg Gibson says was one of the most important that he learned when he began his career as an Imagineer for Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Today the 57-year-old works as the executive director for the Henderson Area Arts Alliance, an organization dedicated to creating a vibrant community through providing quality arts experiences.
“You brainstorm and write the story before you even pick up a pen or a pencil, before you start drawing or designing,” says Gibson, who graduated from Henderson County High School and the University of Cincinnati. “That was a good lesson to learn as a young designer.”
His story begins in Henderson with his two brothers, who were active in sports playing football, basketball, and golf. Gibson attended every art course possible, taking classes at the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science and at the former Main Street location of Red Spot Paint and Varnish Co. in Evansville.
“I was a kid who was the product of the arts, and if I hadn’t been, I wouldn’t be sitting here today,” he says.
Gibson’s passion for the arts led him to designing floats during an internship for the Macy’s Day Parade in New York City, interning with Walt Disney World, working for ITEC Productions Entertainment, amusement park and themed entertainment designers located in Orlando, helping to create the $3 million centerpiece for Give Kids the World Village, a nonprofit resort for children with life-threatening illnesses, and theming youth healthcare clinics.
After spending 22 years working in Florida, Gibson returned to his hometown to support and assist his mother in caring for his grandmother. He continued to design healthcare environments for children through Gibson Entertainment Design Associates, a design-consulting firm, such as Playville and the Center for Children at St. Mary’s Medical Center. He also rebranded St. Mary’s Center for Children’s logo. Gibson later became the program director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Henderson County.
Two years ago, when a position opened for the director of the Henderson Area Arts Alliance after former director Kyle Arnett Hittner resigned to become executive director of the Henderson County Tourist Commission, Gibson jumped at the opportunity to grow arts in the community.
What are the challenges you face as the executive director of the arts alliance?
I’m a one-man-show. Some of the hats I wear are securing the artists, coordinating food, transportation, hotels, promote and market, selling tickets, and presenting it, and while simultaneously fundraising. We also do art outreach with the schools. The Henderson Area Arts Alliance is totally autonomous from the Fine Arts Center at Henderson Community College. We also support five other art organizations under our umbrella: the Ohio Valley Art League, Henderson Society of Art, W.C. Handy Blues & Barbecue Festival, and Bluegrass in the Park and Folklife Festival.
What did you learn from working in entertainment design?
I learned a lot from Henri Landwirth, the founder of Give Kids the World, about marketing, fundraising, and about how to treat people. He was a survivor of the Holocaust and a prisoner in a concentration camp. He was able to be really successful partnering with all these large corporate entities in the Orlando area. His organization is phenomenal. That was a life changer. That led me into designing a lot of healthcare environments for children that were highly themed. It was like an extension of their vacation.
Why is it important to engage youth in the arts?
I know how much it can affect your life in a positive way. There is so much learning that takes place and imagination in giving a child a crayon, a paintbrush, an instrument, and letting them go to town. I feel strongly about that. I know from Gifted and Talented Education teachers how thin they are stretched. They are rotating kids throughout art classes because they don’t have the resources. I really love working with kids. They are inspiring and they will tell you what they think.
What is your overall vision for the arts community?
We have great music festivals. I think we have only tipped the iceberg. I think the Sandy Lee Watkins Songwriters Festival held in Henderson, Kentucky, is just phenomenal. I would love to see partnerships with Evansville like shuttling residents back and forth. There is so much we can do together to secure ourselves as an arts destination. There are so many people born in this zip code that have gifts in art. I would like to incorporate local artists into our annual events and establish an arts endowment to help with our capital.
For more information about the Henderson Area Arts Alliance, call 270-826-5916 or visit haaa.org.
After nine years as the president and CEO of First Security Bank, M. Lynn Cooper announced his 45 years in banking is coming to a close. Effective Dec. 31, 2015, Cooper will retire and be able to reflect on his time at First Security. He contributed to successful growth of the bank during a difficult economic time, seeing the company expand from two locations in Owensboro, Kentucky, to 11 locations in six markets and two states.
“We were real fortunate and we just had a bunch of good people working hard together for the same common purpose,” says Cooper. “We felt really good about helping people, especially during that time when banks got a little weary about loaning anybody money.”
The University of Evansville graduate, who discussed First Security’s development in the “The Changing Face of Local Banking” in the June/July 2013 issue of Evansville Business, says over the recent years, the growth of First Security is the accomplishment he has been most proud of. Not only did the team quadruple the size of the bank, Cooper says, but they achieved record profits as well.
As his time at First Security draws to a close, Cooper says he will miss interacting and working with a great team of people who “have a big heart,” but he is looking forward to spending more quality time with his family, including eight grandchildren. He also hopes to help others in business and banking try to be more successful and has been approached to serve on several boards, including a corporate board.
“Working at First Security has allowed me to fulfill a dream and a goal,” he says. “(My advice to others) is be confident and persistent in your quest. Act as if it will happen, not considering whether it won’t. And try to find the good in all situations and people.”
For more information about First Security Bank, call 812-759-2332 or visit firstsecurity.net.
When seasons change, shorts are exchanged for jeans, tank tops are traded for coats, and flip-flops are swapped for socks and boots. Unfortunately, when thousands of Tri-State residents reach into their closets for these layers, they return empty-handed.
Since 1946, the Santa Clothes Club has provided new, warm clothing for more than 74,000 children and raised nearly $6 million. Today, the organization is headed by Doug Duell, who carries on the tradition his father Dave Duell set serving the club 25 years ago.
“My father became involved with the club 25 years ago and was the president for a long time,” says Duell, who is the owner of Evansville Kia Mazda Volvo and Evansville Hyundai. “When he passed away in 2005, I joined the board and became president this year. There are 18 board members and no one is paid. All of the money goes to the local community.”
The organization services 3,000 needy children in Vanderburgh, Warrick, Gibson, and Posey counties in Indiana, and Henderson County in Kentucky, and provides them with complete sets of clothing that include one pair of jeans, one shirt/top, nine-pack of underwear, 10-pack of socks, gloves, a pair of shoes, and a hooded coat. Board members of Santa Clothes Club, through schools, churches, nonprofit organizations, and private referrals, compile information on the children. Vouchers are mailed to the children in kindergarten through sixth grade to redeem at the East Side Walmart.
“It has been in our family for years and the dealership has worked very closely with the organization,” says Duell. “I’m attracted to it because it’s local, in our area, and 100 percent goes into buying clothes for these kids. Unfortunately, we have a need in the Tri-State and we need to help those kids.”
Fundraising takes place throughout the year with events such as a spaghetti dinner at Biaggi’s, the Dave Duell Memorial Golf Outing, the Santa Clothes Club Telethon, and others.
For more information about Santa Clothes Club, visit its Facebook page.
Many times, the most deserving award recipient is the one who believes she hasn’t earned the accolade.
Such is true of Evansville native Kathy Schoettlin, Old National Bank Executive Vice President and Chief Community Relations Officer, who was named one of eight women honored at the 2015 Torchbearer Awards held by the Indiana Commission for Women in September. The awards ceremony recognizes women of Indiana who are pioneers and leaders in their community and careers.
“I was completely caught off guard,” says Schoettlin, who attended Mater Dei and graduated from the University of Southern Indiana. “(Former Lt. Gov.) Becky Skillman and (ONB President and CEO) Bob Jones nominated me. Those are two people I admire deeply and for them to even consider nominating me, honestly, and to win the award, I was speechless.”
Schoettlin was a 2010 ATHENA Award winner and also was named Big Sister of the Year by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ohio Valley, where she has served as a mentor for years. Her involvement in the community ranges from serving on the board for Indiana Youth Institute, Junior Achievement of Southwestern Indiana, and Public Education Foundation, to serving on leadership teams for many organizations.
Her modesty can be traced back to her beginnings at the Southwestern Indiana Chapter of the American Red Cross, where she first joined as an intern and later spent 14 years with the organization.
Out of the blue, she received a cold call from a recruiter from Old National Bank and she candidly responded: “I don’t even balance my checkbook.” Schoettlin decided she had nothing to lose and began a three-month application process, which led her to meeting Bob Jones and eventually accepting the position.
“Bob said, ‘I don’t want you to be a banker. I want you to be the person who thinks about the community each and every day and what we can do for our community, and bring awareness, and help support the image of Old National,’” says Schoettlin, who lives in rural Posey County with her husband Steve and their three children.
At the bank, she says associates are encouraged to lead by example by volunteering on company time. ONB allots two hours a month for employees.
“There is a difference between allowing and encouraging. We are a community bank and in order to strengthen the communities that we serve, we need to be involved and engaged.”
For more information about Old National Bank, visit oldnational.com.