December 18, 2017
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Sacred Ground

Brian Holtz’s career comes full circle to lead city’s Parks Department
Brian Holtz, executive director of the City of Evansville’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

A Catholic priest, hospice chaplain, community corrections director, and parks and recreation executive director — these careers may seem quite different on the surface, but Brian Holtz sees them as connected to one recurring theme in his life.

“Through my entire career, I looked for positions that were the model of servant leadership,” says Holtz.

In March 2016, Mayor Lloyd Winnecke appointed Holtz executive director of the City of Evansville’s Department of Parks and Recreation to fill the vacancy created by retirement. Holtz previously was the department’s deputy director in charge of partnerships and funding since 2013.

Prior to that, he had been a priest at both Resurrection Catholic Church on the West Side and Holy Rosary Catholic Church on the East Side before leaving the priesthood. He then served as hospice chaplain for Visiting Nurse Association and executive director of the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office community corrections program, in which Holtz mentored non-violent offenders.

Now, Holtz manages the team of 50 full-time and more than 300 seasonal employees to maintain 65 parks, 21 recreational facilities, and more than 2,500 acres of land throughout Evansville and Vanderburgh County. He encourages employees to think outside the box to find unique solutions to budget restrictions.

“My job is to be a cheerleader, to manage and juggle a $10-million-a-year budget,” says Holtz, a 1987 Memorial High School graduate.

The job requires him to listen to the community, have an open mind to the suggestions made, and prioritize concerns.

“I think it takes a person who is a mediator to handle that,” he says. “To be able to decipher what needs attention and what can wait until the next day.”

The youngest of nine children and a lifelong Evansville resident, Holtz recalls growing up in Jimtown — a blue-collar neighborhood north of the Lloyd Expressway bordered by Garvin Street — and spending sunrise to sunset away from the house.

“We felt like somebody when we could ride our bikes from our house to Garvin Park,” he recalls.

He feels immense pride that his job allows him to contribute to the well-being of others who live here.

“Getting up every morning and wanting to go to work is a great feeling,” he says, adding he understands the political nature of the position means he could be out of a job after the next election. “I think my responsibility is do what I can with the time that I have. I can control me and that’s it. I don’t live in that fear. I’m appreciative Mayor Lloyd Winnecke gave me the opportunity to lead this department.”

For more information about the City of Evansville’s Department of Parks and Recreation, call 812-435-6141 or visit


Protect and Serve

U.S. Marshal Ryan Filson completes Command and General Staff College
Deputy U.S. Marshal Ryan Filson stands atop the Winfield K. Denton Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse.

Thanks to Hollywood’s depiction in movies, most people think a U.S. Marshal’s job is solely to pursue fugitives. As the nation’s oldest and most versatile federal law enforcement agency, marshals do much more. Thanks to recent training that prepared him to coordinate military-level responses to disastrous events, Deputy U.S. Marshal Ryan Filson ­­— assigned to the Evansville Office — is a perfect example.

Taking nearly a year away from regular duties, Filson attended The Command and General Staff College. Based in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, the college’s mission is to educate, train, and develop members of the military and government agencies for unified land operations in a joint, interagency, intergovernmental, and multinational operational environment; and advance the art and science of the profession of arms in support of Army operational requirements.

Timothy O’Hagan, director of the inner-agency program at the Command and General Staff College, says, “The college provides students with the knowledge of critical thinking, creative thinking, and problem solving. Our inner-agency student population varies year to year and is usually between 25 to 30 students.”

The Command and General Staff College originally was a military post known as Cantonment Leavenworth and was established by Colonel Henry Leavenworth on the Missouri River on May 8, 1827. The cantonment was the first settlement in the Kansas territory and is the oldest active Army post west of Washington, D.C.

It was not until 1881 that General W.T. Sherman directed the establishment of a new school at Fort Leavenworth that would quickly become The Command and General Staff College.

As an inner-agency student, Filson worked in a staff group of 16 people. The school predominantly is a requirement for field grade officers in the military, so Filson had much to learn.

“When we did group work with sometimes up to 32 people, they had scenarios where a fake country invades the Caucasus region and we dealt with the whole process of force flow and pushing back invasions,” says Filson. “The exercises broke down every little detail.”

Besides acquiring leadership and command skills, Filson also took electives that helped him better
understand international terrorism, domestic terrorism, and defense support for civil authorities to respond to catastrophic events.

Originally from Protection, Kansas, Filson started his career as a state trooper in his home state in 1990, moving his way up to federal government special agent in 2000. In 2007, Filson lateraled to the Marshal Service in Fairbanks, Alaska, and then transferred to Anchorage in 2010, becoming a supervisory deputy.

“My first arrest in Alaska was at 43 degrees below zero. We had a warrant for the guy and it was so cold that when I took my gloves off to pat him down I couldn’t feel my hands. The other officers had to pat him down but they told me, ‘Since you can’t feel your hands, we won’t put you on the wall of shame this time,’” he says, recalling his colleagues joking about his blunder.

Filson transferred to Evansville in 2012 and has been here ever since. As a Marshal, some of his main duties include apprehension of federal fugitives, transportation of federal prisoners, seizing property acquired by criminals through illegal activities, protection of the federal judiciary, and operation of the witness security program.

Filson has an associate’s degree in criminal justice, a bachelor’s degree in both criminal justice and corrections, and is finishing up his last semester for his master’s degree in management and leadership from Webster University, St. Louis, Missouri. The Command and General Staff College coincided with his master’s degree program and counts toward some of his credit hours.

“Ryan was an excellent student, very personal, very engaging, and we got along well,” says O’Hagan. “Although the college is a little more difficult for inner-agency students, we have not had an inner agency student who has not been successful.”

Filson says he has no future plans for school beyond his master’s degree, which he will finish in October. After completion of The Command and General Staff College, Filson says he was glad to be back home with his wife and daughter. Though he missed his family, he adds being on campus alone allowed him to focus on his work.

“I had to spend so much time reading. I would usually get out of class around 3:30 p.m. depending on the day, and no matter what time I got out, I would go back to my room and start writing a paper or reading until 10:30 p.m., at least,” says Filson.

It wasn’t all hard times and studying, though. Filson stayed on post in a building with two Army officers and socialized with fellow students whenever he had free time.

“I became good friends with the Vietnamese officer who lived down the road. We were the two odd people out sometimes because he is an officer from another country and I had no military experience,” says Filson. “His family wasn’t with him, either, and he would cook Vietnamese food for lunch and I would come over. Some of it was unique; we had pig’s tongue once.”

Filson says he keeps in touch with many of the students and teachers from the college.

“It was an excellent college and a unique experience,” says Filson. 

For more information about the U.S. Marshal Service office in Evansville, call 812-465-6437 or visit


Mark Spencer

Hometown: Rochester, New York

Job: Athletic Director, University of Evansville

Education: Undergraduate degree in accounting from St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, New York; master’s degree in sports administration from Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia.

Resume: Committee for the Olympic Games, Atlanta, Georgia, 1995-1996; director of ticket operations, Albuquerque Dukes professional baseball team, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1996-1998; manager of athletic ticket operations, the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, 1998-2000; associate athletic director of business operations, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee, 2000-2002; associate athletic director of internal affairs, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri, 2002-2006; senior associate athletic director of finance and business affairs, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, 2006-2014.

Family: Wife Lindsay and daughter Riley, 6.

Mark Spencer was sure he would become a basketball coach. Studying for his master’s degree at Georgia State University, he dual-majored in sports administration and coaching and realized coaching wasn’t his forté.

“I found I am an analytical accounting mind; administration is where I’m best suited,” he says. “Doing the business side of things is really where my mind goes. I like to fix problems.”

Spencer has worked with athletic departments at universities across the country, big and small. What drew him to athletics,
he says, is the chance to make a difference in students’ lives.

“It’s those kinds of relationships that really make the difference between just having a desk job and working in athletics,” says Spencer.

What attracted you to the athletic director position at the University of Evansville?
I met one of my mentors, Bill McGillis, while working at the University of New Mexico. At the time, he was the senior associate athletic director here at UE and he gave me some good advice and helped me move on to a few jobs. When I got my chance to become the athletic director here, he gave me counsel again.

I feel like I have been following Evansville for about 10 years, since Bill was here. I had an idea of what Evansville was about; I was excited to have the opportunity. I knew it was a place of growth.

I like the small-school environment. The personal interactions on a campus like this are incredible.

What have you enjoyed most about Evansville as a community?
It’s tough to really narrow it down. Evansville is as big or as small as you want it to be. It’s truly Midwest. I’ve met such a great range of people. It is a melting pot. You have the bankers, the insurance folks, the mom-and-pop shop operators, and the farming community. And all of them love their Aces.

We want to give them more recent history they can be excited about. They really embrace the school, our student athletes, and what we’re about. So it’s been great to be welcomed with open arms into the community.

What work do you feel most proud of in your two years at UE?
The deal with ESPN and the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC), which allows us to broadcast all of our home men’s and women’s basketball and soccer, women’s volleyball, baseball, and softball games. Every MVC conference member does the same, so fans are able to watch all of the MVC road games as well. The deal brought a producer and director onto our staff. They’re also working in concert with our communications department to help bolster UE’s athletic communications degree to recruit students. They actually teach classes.

The deal integrates so many pieces on campus. Athletics so often can be seen as a divider. We are, for good or for bad, the front window of the university. To be able to represent that through ESPN 3 game broadcasts, while also integrating the communications department, goes exactly with what I have as a professional goal for all my student athletes and really ties into the university’s mission.

What’s your favorite sport?
That’s a tough one. I played basketball, I’m a college basketball junkie. I’m also an absolute soccer fanatic, whether it’s college soccer, Major League Soccer, or English Premier League. Those are the sports I know.

The great part about the sports mix at UE is I know all of them, I’ve seen all of them before, and I understand them. I really like the sports mix here. 


Making Waves

Jeff Friedlund grows Spa City into local success
Jeff Friedlund

Jeff Friedlund was fresh out of college, a graduate of Vincennes University, when he started working at Spa City U.S.A. in 1997.

An Evansville native and North High School graduate, Friedlund began his career by delivering hot tubs his parents Bob and Lois Schmitt sold at their business. Eventually he would work his way up to owner and operator of the home recreation company.

Spa City itself was a new business when Friedlund came on board. Working out of a small space he equates to the size of a garage, Spa City sold more than just hot tubs in the beginning.

“We were just selling everything,” says Friedlund. “From patio furniture, tanning beds, saunas, pool tables, grills to swimming pools. We sold a lot just to get going.”

In 2001, Lois and Bob were ready to hang up their hats and retire. They were the sole owners of the business and prepared to sell the company. By this point, Friedlund had expanded his duties at Spa City. Not only would he go on delivery calls, but he worked on and serviced the spas sold, and had his share of sales experience.

Friedlund says he didn’t want to see Spa City sold to someone else, so he stepped up and told his parents he wanted to take over.

“I bought them out on a contract,” he explains. “I have been the sole owner since 2001.”

Since its beginnings in a small space on the East Side, Spa City has moved to a larger location at 6100 E. Maxwell Ave., a warehouse space that allows Friedlund to utilize a 13,000-square-foot showroom. Walk into Spa City on any given day and Friedlund has about 50 to 60 hot tubs on the floor, ready to sell. This is something not common with hot tub retailers, he says.

In Spa City’s 21st year of business, Friedlund and his staff concentrate their inventory on hot tubs, occasionally installing swimming pools and selling grills. The quality of products and customer service has earned Friedlund and Spa City a reputation among clients, both new and repeat.

“I think people like our service, our friendly demeanor,” says Bill Alexander, a sales representative who has worked with Friedlund for 15 years. He also started in delivery at Spa City before working in sales. “We try to answer all their questions and we don’t put people off.”

“People just keep coming back,” adds Lois, “and by word of mouth, people tell others to go to Spa City and see Jeff. Everyone knows who Jeff is.”

Tales of success  - Inside Spa City’s store, before entering the showroom floor, customers are greeted by photographs of spas installed by the company over its 21-year-history. Owner Jeff Friedlund credits the success of the business to the quality of customer service offered by the staff, which creates lifelong customers.

Helping Hand

Spa City was born out of a want to help other people, says Lois.

“It started out very small,” she adds. “The place we started in didn’t have plumbing or anything. It had just enough room for a desk and a couple of hot tubs.”

Lois and her husband Bob opened the storefront in 1995 to help a friend in Tell City, Indiana, who built his own spas. When he ran into financial trouble and difficulty marketing his hot tubs, the couple offered to step in and help, opening a showroom in Evansville for his products. They then hired another friend — a salesman who had recently lost his job — to sell the product.

“We put a little ad in the paper about the business and we sold out,” says Bob.

Off the Beaten Path - Spa City opened its doors in 1995 in a small showroom behind Lea Matthews Furniture and Interiors on the East Side. After a year and a half, the company moved to its current location on East Maxwell Avenue. 

Just after Spa City’s one-year anniversary, the Schmitts purchased the location on Maxwell Avenue. From there, the business only grew. Their inventory expanded by purchasing overstock models from factories in Florida. When the spa manufacturer Gatsby went out of business, Lois and Bob bought the company’s entire inventory, allowing them to showcase close to 100 tubs in their warehouse.

“It started on a whim,” says Lois, “and it turned out to be a fast-moving, big business.”

When the couple decided it was time to leave the company, it wasn’t a surprise their son Jeff wanted to continue in their place.

“Since Jeff had worked there, he knew the business,” says Lois. “He worked up to owning it; he didn’t just come in and say, ‘Oh, I want this.’ We were ready to get out and he wanted it. He was ready to get into something.”

For 15 years, Friedlund’s hands-on approach and work ethic have grown Spa City into one of the largest spa retailers in the Tri-State.

Through the years, the business had its share of rough patches as well as achievements. During 2006 through 2009, when most businesses were struggling with the economic recession, Friedlund says his company wasn’t immune to the slump. Before 2006, Spa City would sell about 120 spas a year. During the three-year downturn, that number dropped to 50.

“Instead of giving up, we kept going, kept pushing,” says Friedlund. “Now we’ve double and tripled our sales since 2009.”

Spa City’s slogan says the company is “A Bubble Above the Rest,” harkening to its devotion to service and customer relationships, which Friedlund emulates and stresses to his staff. Spas can provide more than entertainment for families. Spa City helps customers find the right hot tub for their needs, whether it be relaxation to relieve stress or hydrotherapy to ease joint pain or arthritis.

The company serves clients within a 100-mile radius around Evansville. Jobs do not just end when the spa is installed either, adds Friedlund. The company employs just five staff members, many who have been with Spa City for more than 12 years.

“There are quite a few of us here who know everything about all of the hot tubs,” says Alexander. “So when a customer comes in, they’ll know we know what we’re talking about.”

Spa City’s warehouse atmosphere and location also combine to offer lower prices on its spas, adds Friedlund.

“We’re not paying a high rent or overhead, so it helps pass on savings to our customers,” he says.

Spa City’s quality spas are important to Friedlund as well. All three of the spa manufacturers he carries are made in the U.S., with one located in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and another in Nashville, Tennessee. Many competitors’ spas are manufactured outside the country, he says, in Mexico or China.

“The quality of a hot tub built in the U.S. meets higher standards,” he adds. “They have to meet a certain qualification when they are built here.”

“We make sure we get the right hot tubs that fit our market, the ones our market would readily accept,” adds Alexander.

The elements of Spa City merge to give customers an experience as enjoyable as sinking into the luxury spas they purchase.

“Customers refer others to us based on their experience with us,” says Friedlund. “When we hear people say that, we know we’re doing something right.”

Though Friedlund is the sole owner, his long-time employees have seen little difference between Jeff the deliveryman, service tech, and salesman, and Jeff the business owner.

▲ The building offers Friedlund 13,000 square feet of space to showcase the company’s products. Spa City keeps anywhere from 50 to 60 hot tubs on hand ready to sell. Friedlund says this is more than most dealers keep in-house.

“He’s definitely a hands-on owner/operator,” says Alexander. “He enjoys that. He likes getting out there on deliveries, doing repair work when he can. That keeps him in the game; keeps a hand on the pulse of the customers.”

That dedication drives Friedlund every day. As a husband and father of two young daughters, he juggles after-school practices and family time with answering phone calls and making sure things run smoothly. The mentality benefits his company, helping him retain customers, create repeat clients, and produce word-of-mouth advertising that brings in new business.

“You always hear stories from people, customers who come in and say they’ve had horrible customer service elsewhere,” he says. “I don’t want someone to say they would never come back here because of bad customer service. That’s not how I want to be known.”

“Jeff has done very, very well,” adds Lois. “I’m very proud of him, how he’s taken it.”

For more information about Spa City U.S.A., call 812-479-3161 or visit

Issue CoverEvansvill Business October / November 2016 Issue Cover


Our love-hate relationship with smartphones
ERA First Advantage Realty agent Janice Miller says there’s “no way” she’d be happier without her smartphone.

We have a question for you. How much time would you say your smartphone takes from you?

Ten percent of your day? Fifty? Eighty?

Those hand-held computers you put in your pocket or purse have become such a norm in our personal and business lives, it probably does not occur to you how much you use it.

A Gallup poll published in July 2015 indicated half of smartphone owners in the U.S. check their phones several times an hour or more. That statistic included 11 percent who admitted to glancing for notifications every few minutes. An annual internet trend poll conducted by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 2013 reported users check their phones 150 times per day.

Whether you realize it or not, you likely look at your phone 150 times per day.

The staff of Evansville Business conducted a poll of our own on social media. We asked followers to think about their smartphone usage and share their thoughts. Of the 77 responses, about 50 percent admitted to doing business on smartphones anytime, anywhere, indicating the practice is slowly becoming a part of the business standard.

From answering a call or shooting a text to a client to uploading pictures to Facebook or even just checking the time, we arguably have come to rely on smartphones more than any other technology in the last 30 years.

Back to the Future

The first smartphone created was the IBM Simon Personal Communicator, which debuted in 1992 for $899 on the now outdated two-year contract agreements. If you didn’t want to sign your name on the dotted line, you needed only produce $1,099 for a Simon.

This early version had a basic touchscreen and the capability to send and receive emails and faxes. Nokia would come next with the 9000 Communicator. It did not boast a touchscreen, but allowed users to browse the web and use word processing and spreadsheet programs.

These phones would dominate a small niche market but remain fairly unknown to the mass of consumers. In the early 2000s, BlackBerry launched the era of phones catered to business professionals with large keyboards and email capabilities.

Smartphones as we know them today hit the market in 2007, when Apple debuted its first iPhone and the company’s chief executive Steve Jobs called it “a revolutionary and magical product.” From there, the device’s meteoric rise in the technology world could not be stopped.

By 2008, Apple announced 4.7 million cellphone users owned iPhones. Its biggest competitor, Android, hit the market in November 2008 with the G1. Today, the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy are the most popular smartphones on the market. They offer unlimited options for both business and personal use; games, social media, photography, and programs to help run your business are just a few of the “apps” taking up memory on our phones. It’s no wonder many of us turn to our devices for just about everything.

Many questions arise from this usage: is society losing its ability to have face-to-face interactions? Has the line between our business and personal lives blurred? Is hyper-connectivity killing our relationships with one another?

There are pros and cons of this shift in technology — and our society — depending on whom you ask. Students, company owners, small-business employees — we all use smartphones in one way or another. Just how much have they affected the way we do business and, possibly most importantly, the way we interact with each other?

Incoming Call, one new message

▲ College sophomores and Signature School graduates Cooper Pratt and Abbie Gipson read messages, check bus schedules, and take plenty of selfies. This next generation of professionals will never conduct business in a world without smartphones.

Janice Miller sweeps into a small conference room, smartphone to her ear, her head nodding as she listens to the caller on the line. They exchange a few words and after they end their conversation, Miller’s phone dings with a few text notifications. As she wraps up answering the messages, she looks up and smiles as she lets out a deep breath.

“I absolutely do everything with my phone,” she explains, smartphone still in hand.

A real estate agent and owner of ERA First Advantage Realty in Newburgh, Indiana, Miller has used cellphones since 1985. Today, her iPhone 6 Plus holds everything essential to her professional and personal lives. Eighty percent of her day is spent on the device.

“The smartphones have made business so much easier,” says Miller, “but you really don’t get away from it. You just don’t get away unless you turn it off. And I rarely turn it off.”

But Miller doesn’t see anything wrong with that.

“Most customers are very polite; they value my time,” she says. “I work with great people.”

Jackson Kelly PLLC attorney Joshua Claybourn agrees it’s harder now than ever to discern the line between work time and personal time.

“Clients know they can get ahold of you quickly, and so they do, whether by email, text, or calls,” he says. “You’re always kind of working, and that’s true not only after the day ends, but also on vacation. I can be in another state or even another country, and people expect and are used to still having responses.”

He sees both the positives and negatives of having a smartphone at all times. It can have its disadvantages and headaches, he says, but overall has a tremendous benefit.

“I can be more responsive,” adds Claybourn. “Very often a client needs something quickly, so therefore I can get access to it and provide better service because of smartphones.”

For Miller and real estate agents, apps such as Trello, E-Key, and DocuSign allow them to post new listings, see who has viewed houses, and sign contracts with home owners all on their smartphones. Attorneys like Claybourn can rely on the apps Lexis Advance and Westlaw to research specific legal questions and look up municipal codes.

For small-business owners like Sara Davidson, director of marketing and part owner of Tin Man Brewing Company, the pros and cons of smartphones get a little trickier.

“It’s one of those things,” she says. “I mean, it’s a necessity, but at the same time, you don’t want it to be a distraction.”

While her employees are required to keep their smartphones off the floor to focus their attention on customers, Davidson herself uses her phone frequently for social media posts as well as answering any questions that may arise.

“Actually I wish I could throw mine away sometimes. You know, because it’s a constant,” she says. “For me, I think it’d be nice to put it down for a couple hours and just work. It’s a balancing act for sure.”

Debatably, no one is better at this balancing act than the younger generations who grew up in this technological boom. College students today were born into a time when cellphones and computers were reaching commonplace status. They are the masters of social media, the champions of hyper-connectivity, and the pioneers of new technology.

“As a young person, my phone — unless I had a separate work phone or separate school phone — has sort of become a part of me,” says Newburgh native Abbie Gipson. “It’s something that you need; it’s what you use most to communicate.”

The journalism and international studies major who attends Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, points out perhaps the biggest truth about smartphones today — they are no longer a luxury, but a necessity. The devices define social interactions and carry vital information. They serve as alarm clocks and road maps, give students grades at their fingertips, and allow them to coordinate projects in minutes.

“It’s a work culture that is kind of permeated by the idea that, if you can, then you should,” says Gipson, “where that line is just blurred and blurred and blurred.”

Cooper Pratt, an Evansville native and Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, student, believes smartphones are a tool to stay connected, but they do not replace face-to-face interactions.

“You’re still going to have to meet in person, because there are just some things you can’t convey over the phone,” he says. “But it’s definitely supplemented it.”

To this generation, smartphones are almost an afterthought — the devices are there as tools to conduct business in school and their personal lives. But they don’t require the phones to be happy.

“I think what’s important is to look at how it is affecting us, because I think we can be happy regardless,” says Gipson. “I just think it’s important to recognize the ways smartphones are making us unhappy.”

Phone Cases

One bittersweet smartphone side effect results from the ease mobile devices afford. With the privilege of portable information and communication comes the responsibility of keeping it classy and classified.

Jake Fulcher, a management side labor and employment attorney with Kahn, Dees, Donovan & Kahn, LLP, has noticed an uptick in company smartphone policies, often focused on sexual harassment and discrimination — workplace cyberbullying of sorts.

In addition, some businesses have instated policies regarding social media and company representation.

“Certainly employees can do things on behalf of their employer that they shouldn’t be doing, and that can happen with smartphones or anything else. It’s just now it’s a lot easier to run afoul, or accidentally send or lose something,” says Claybourn. “Also, now people can hack into phones and get access to not just your calls or voicemail, but the data that’s being sent to you.”

Before Claybourn practiced law at Jackson Kelly PLLC, he worked with Vectren, and he recalls a company-wide concern about access to critical utility infrastructure information on phones.

To quell worries over the potential of lost phones and sly hackers, he says, Vectren incorporated software similar to AirWatch Agent. This app, installed on Claybourn’s phone, allows for a swift remote scrub of confidential data.

“The flipside of that, as a lawyer,” says Claybourn, “is if there’s ever a lawsuit that requires access to that information, then you also have to top that with technology and software that will allow you to retrieve it and use it as evidence.”

Fulcher predicts a different sort of software will become popular after Dec. 1, when a new federal law takes effect.

The law sets the standard salary level at $913 per week or $47,476 per year for salaried workers — more than double the current standard. That means many overtime-exempt employees will become hourly workers and receive overtime pay for after-hours activity.

Subsequently, employers wonder how to track overtime accrued by new hourly employees who check email and take calls at home on their smartphones.

“If it’s unlikely that you’ll take the smartphone away, start looking at ways to manage their time on their phone after hours,” says Fulcher. “I think we’re going to see a lot more companies have policies, and there’s going to be some sort of business boom on shutting the phone off at a certain hour, turning email on and off, that sort of thing. A good little software business to get into.”

With unprecedented layers of complexity thrust upon the workplace by mobile technology, the logical question concerns the future of smartphone regulation.

“The smartphones are a tool, just like your note pad, just like your computer, just like your mind,” says Fulcher.  “The smartphone is just another tool that allows you to work more efficiently.  I do not think that the government is going to get into the business of regulating work specifically done on a smartphone. It will be up to the courts and employers to do that, if necessary.”

Swiping Forward

Of course, the future is far more than law and policy. While tomorrow rests in the hands of today’s young people and those teaching them, everyone has nuanced plans and predictions.

At the University of Southern Indiana Business and Engineering Center, assistant professor of computer science Gongjun Yan sees assistant professor of computer information systems Dinko Bacic walking by his office.

Yan waves him in.

“In any other university,” says Bacic, “we probably would not know about each other, like, at all.”

But USI is different, combining business and technology on a structural level. The move has paid off, as teams of students advised by Yan and Bacic have won awards at major information systems case competitions by developing apps and websites for local businesses and nonprofits.

“In the future,” says Yan, “if people are on the move, it’s very likely the smartphone is going to be the major device where they do their computing and communicating.”

“That’s the next challenge, really, because they’re realizing that executives are making decisions, which are being fed to them on a small screen,” says Bacic. “You’re forming this environment where it’s very conducive to make a decision quicker. We recognize it in our classes as the fact that students have to be aware of the mobile environment in which businesses make decisions.”

Much of Yan and his colleagues’ research also focuses on smartphones. While Yan is working to program a dash camera-phone-database system to
monitor driving habits, he says Hui Shi is studying artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

That same artificial intelligence, mobilized by smartphones, could be making its way into the legal profession.

“There have been a growing number of articles written about the potential for artificial intelligence to essentially act as a lawyer,” says Claybourn. “The thought has long been that professions that required some analytical skills would always require humans, but now with the advent and growth of artificial intelligence, you start to wonder just how far can it go.”

Dumb, Not Dead

They’re still alive. And they’re not just for older folks.
Basic cell phones, with classic flip and slide features, rest in the back corners of local cell carrier stores, waiting for pockets and purses just like their smarter counterparts.

Sometimes, says Verizon solutions specialist Prentis Kelly, a basic cell phone is the only mobile device a young person can afford.
The LG Revere 3, one of Verizon’s most popular basic phones, sells for just $50, making it the go-to for people who have destroyed their smartphones and don’t have insurance to pick up new ones.

The smartphone has already made its way to grocery shopping.

Miller’s daughter-in-law recently took advantage of Wal-Mart’s option to order products online and pick up her package of fresh groceries at the store.

“So that will be the next thing I implement,” says Miller. “We’ll shop totally online.”

Miller also has begun encouraging home sellers and builders to consider designating space in the house for charging stations.

“It’s just exciting times,” she says. “Imagine what’s going to come out next year with phones. Imagine what it’s going to do next!”

The smartphone trend could die out, and everyone could go back to flip phones. But Pratt doesn’t see that happening.

“We’ve already opened the Pandora’s box of communication,” he says. “There’s no putting it all back, but one of the good things about smartphones is you don’t have to do everything. In a way, a smartphone can be dumb if you just use it that way.” 




When 8-year-old Lilly met Janet Evans.

I have written many times in this column about youth sports, which is something very important to me. Judging by the reaction of both of my faithful column readers, it is important to some of you as well. After retiring from about 20 years of coaching more baseball and basketball teams than I can count, I can say with certainty youth sports have been a big part of who I am — or even perhaps who I want to be when I grow up (why rush things).

Life lessons learned through sports has been the topic of many of our father-and-son, let’s call them “conversations,” over the years. Which brings me to a story shared with me by Mark King, father of local Olympic swimmer Lilly King. Mark is an excellent writer, does freelance work for us, and, although he will deny this, is a friend.

Mark recently told me this funny story:

Ginny King, Lilly’s mom, had been a terrific age-group and college swimmer. Mark had been a college runner. So it stands to reason that sports would play a role in the King household. However, Lilly initially was not a very good swimmer (sorry Lil, your dad’s words!).

When Lilly was 8 years old, Ginny took her to a swim clinic at the Mount Vernon High School pool. Lilly struggled all day to keep up with the other girls and was last in everything she swam. Her mom was sure Lilly would be upset and end up hating the sport.

The clinic was put on by none other than Janet Evans, generally regarded as the best female distance swimmer in history with four gold medals in two different Olympic games and a number of world records along the way.

Evans spoke at length to the kids at the clinic, repeatedly emphasizing that while she was far from being the most talented swimmer, she had worked extremely hard to achieve her goals. It was a lesson Lilly obviously took to heart and demonstrated year in and year out.

Recently, while getting ready to practice with her Olympic swimming teammates for her debut in Rio, Lilly’s phone rang and showed a California number she did not recognize. Lilly decided not to answer. Later that evening, she listened to the voicemail, and the caller was Janet Evans.

Evans told Lilly she was planning to go to Rio for the Olympics and asked Lilly if she could meet her 9-year-old daughter, an aspiring breaststroke swimmer, at the games. The young girl’s favorite swimmer just happens to be Lilly King.

I know some of you — certainly my peers — are probably struggling to comprehend the photos below. In our feature story “Synced” beginning on page 24, we detail how the world of smartphones has literally changed everything.

My take on smartphones and our culture? It is safe to say in a love-hate relationship, there is no love.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

Todd A. Tucker


No-Parking Zone

Are plans for a Downtown bicentennial park dead?
Old Kenny Kent site

When I changed careers and moved into the second floor of the Old Post Office in 2000, our offices overlooked the old Kenny Kent building bounded by Vine, Sycamore, Second, and Third streets. A building often used by the homeless, the structure was in serious decline when torn down in 2006.

The result was a square block in the middle of Downtown — a terrific development opportunity.

A potential retail and townhome development was proposed by well-known St. Louis, Missouri, commercial building owner Ed Curtis. This proposal, and others, were scrapped seemingly because parties could not come to an agreement on how the project would be funded.

At the tail end of his second term, on Dec. 18, 2011, Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel kicked off Evansville’s bicentennial at the Ford Center with an announcement that a bicentennial park would be built on the old Kenny Kent site. Ratio architects provided architectural drawings, showing a park with a sloped semi-circular event lawn. The park was to provide a platform for concerts, movies, a farmer’s market, and festivals.

In the July/August 2012 Evansville Living article “The Park Next Door,” former Department of Metropolitan Development executive director Philip Hooper stated, “Once the project is designed, the Department of Metropolitan Development staff will have the project put out for construction bids, then carry the project all the way through the approvals, construction, and completion.”

Hooper now says, at the time, he felt other economic development projects took precedence over the bicentennial park.

The city intended to fund the park with tax incremental financing (TIF) dollars. A completion date was set for July 4, 2013.

That date has come and gone. Instead of a park, a square plot of dirt and grass now occupies the property, which hosts the Downtown Farmers Markets on Fridays in the warm, summer months.

Mayor Lloyd Winnecke says the bicentennial park project was proposed with a multi-million dollar price tag shortly after he took office. Such a plan would require significant financial investment from the Downtown TIF district, he adds.

“As the proposed convention hotel and the future medical school project would also utilize the TIF, we felt it was in the city’s best long-term interest to seek out a development that encompassed both private and public investment,” says Winnecke.

The city still is interested in the concept of a park on the Greyhound block, he adds, but with the Regional Cities Initiative and the updated Downtown Master Plan, “our vision for green space on that block will most likely take a more linear form.” 


Glorious Glass

Newburgh studio creates and restores stained glass works of art

Rick Beheler stands over a table covered by a sheet of paper on which he has hand-drawn several shapes. At first glance, the shapes appear to be part of a large puzzle. Beheler carefully scores and breaks pieces of glass and lays them on the paper. Closer inspection reveals the glass pieces form two columns and an arch. Pencil sketches of grass, a river, and two hummingbirds also become visible.

“It’s like a puzzle, but you use lead to hold it together,” says Beheler, a Chandler resident.

The carefully constructed pieces eventually will become a custom stained glass window for a client’s home. Beheler could work with hi-tech equipment to make the process quicker, but says he prefers to do most of the work by hand.

“I’m old school,” he says, adding he found many computer-generated sketches were inaccurate. “When I hand-draw something, I can make sure everything is exact. I find this easier. Just give me a glass cutter, straight edge, and pliers, and I’m set.”

Beheler is one of three glass artists at Sunburst Stained Glass, 300 W. Jennings St., Newburgh. Along with general manager Patty Beeson and Kris Sibrel, the trio have more than 70 years of glass artistry among them.

Owners Kevin “Butch” Will and his son Mason Will reopened Sunburst Stained Glass in June 2014 after owner Sue Morrison closed the former location at 20 W. Jennings St. earlier that year. The company designs and creates custom works, which now reside in homes as far as England, Germany, Hawaii, New York, and Alaska.

Sunburst Stained Glass also restores stained-glass windows, often from churches. After on-site removal, each window is transported to the studio and receives a tarpaper rubbing to create a template for reassembly. Glass pieces are taken apart, cleaned, and eventually fit back together.

“When we bring them in, they’re in really bad shape,” says Beeson, but adds that most people recognize the importance of retaining the integrity and history of the glass windows. “They don’t realize the hours that go into making a piece. Everything is done by hand.”

Stained glass studios are becoming more rare, says Beeson, because of the specialized skills and patience required to perfect the art. Further, not everyone is willing to pay what each project is worth. From design to installation, a custom-created window can take from one to three months to complete and cost about $165 per square foot.

Nonetheless, Sunburst Stained Glass continues to thrive. Beeson says the key to the small studio’s success is its customer service. She also says its patrons have a deep appreciation for the time and expertise involved in each handmade work.

“If you love your customers and are good to them, they’ll keep coming back,” says Beeson. 

For more information about Sunburst Stained Glass, call 812-853-0460 or visit


Brace Yourself

Wells Orthodontics opens office with unconventional theme
The West Side Wells Orthodontics office.

Orthodontist Dr. Tony Wells works inside a dodecagon with the aesthetics of a mineshaft, but don’t be fooled. He only unearths perfect smiles.

The West Side office of Wells Orthodontics relocated in mid-May to 2222 W. Franklin St. Since 2005, Wells operated out of a building just a few blocks west on the same street.

“Franklin Street has been very welcoming,” says Dr. Crunchy Wells, who is a dentist, part owner of Wells Orthodontics, and Dr. Wells’s wife. “When we moved in down there, we were just renting, and now that we own it, there’s even a better sense.”

A long while in the making, the move got rolling when Michelle Hueck, owner of the former chiropractic facility, visited Wells’s office and offered to sell her building. Tony immediately accepted.

However, the next step was not so swift. Crunchy knew she wanted to create a masculine and whimsical space representative of her husband and his patients, but she stalled the decorating and design process for weeks, fearing an industrial concept might appear too radical. But between the original stone walls built by Dr. Albert McClain and a piece of chair rail brought to Crunchy by Derick Higginson of Vintage Iron Design, she garnered the inspiration necessary to jump into the mineshaft.

A massive team of locals and patients’ families took the leap with her.

Jeff Hatfield of Core Contractors tore out walls and cut new window openings while Jeff Hoffman of Hoffman Plumbing carved through cement to add plumbing for dentistry chairs. Chris Maurer of Maurer Tile Company leveled the floor and installed hospital-grade laminate as Higginson constructed everything from giant gears to the sign for the entry.

When the light fixtures came in, they were too beige, so Kristin Proctor of Illuminating Expressions came to the rescue with her daughter. The two spray-painted each piece the proper color.

“There’s no dentist office I’ve ever seen that looks like this, and there’s not even really a store that looks like this,” Crunchy says of the mineshaft motif. “This was a little edgy.”
Though the décor is visually rough and tough, visitors enjoy cozy waiting room chairs much like the Wells team has enjoyed the inviting West Side community.

“We’ve actually had an influx of patients because it was like we committed,” says Crunchy. “That’s a part of Evansville you just can’t get anywhere else in the world. When they realize you’ve invested in them, they’ll invest in you.”

For more information about Wells Orthodontics, call 812-426-9000 or 812-479-1311, or visit