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From Lafayette, Indiana Journal Courrier:

Benton Community School Corp. will lose 278 years of teaching experience this summer.

That’s the total years of experience that the nine teachers who accepted an early retirement incentive had in the district, according to Superintendent Ross Sloat. Their experience in Benton ranged from 13 to 43 years, and they were spread out among the district’s schools.

“You hate to lose the experience,” Sloat said.

But the retirements, which were approved Monday at the board of trustees meeting, will help save the district money. The district earlier this year made cuts to its budget — including cutting teachers — of more than $600,000, citing a potential $1 million general-fund shortfall.

Under the early retirement agreement, teachers with at least 10 years in Benton Schools and who were at the top of their salary scale were eligible. About 50 teachers could have applied, and between seven and 12 teachers had to accept for it to go into effect.

Each teacher received a one-time $18,000 incentive on top of other retirement provisions in their contracts.

Sloat said each of the nine retirements will save the district about $22,000 to $25,000, depending on the experience and the person hired to replace the retiring teacher. That could mean as much as $225,000 saved for the district, though the full savings won’t be known until 2009.

The idea is to save money by replacing experienced teachers who make more money with less-experienced, and therefore cheaper, teachers.

One of those retirements included the principal of Benton Central Jr./Sr. High School, Howard Feuer, who submitted his intent to retire earlier this month following a stroke last November.

The board named his replacement Monday. Destin Haas, who had been filling in as the interim principal, was named the new Benton Central principal.

Haas has 11 years of teaching and administration experience, all in Benton County. He began his career as a seventh-grade social studies teacher and most recently, he was serving as the assistant high school principal and the director of adult education.

“It’s an exciting time in my professional career,” Haas said. “I look forward to making some positive changes in the Benton Community Schools.”

Corey Robb, who had been the dean of students, will move into Haas’ former position as assistant principal.


This author of this post is Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler from South Florida. Wexler has been ubiquitous these last months as a top surrogate for Senator Obama — even representing him at the nationally televised DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee. Wexler recently called for testimony of Scott McClellan before the Judiciary Committee and delivered it. He has been front and center demanding impeachment hearings for Cheney and now Bush. Now Wexler has published a frank book about his political experiences and his thoughts on why Democrats should be more aggressive. The book is entitled Fire-Breathing Liberal – How I learned to Survive (and Thrive) in the Contact Sport of Congress


The testimony of Scott McClellan this past Friday in the House Judiciary Committee marked an important step forward for Congress in the battle to fully expose the crimes of the Bush/Cheney Administration and finally hold this White House accountable for its appalling actions that have weakened our constitution and our government. I am only sorry that we are taking this step so late in President Bush’s term in office. However, I am pleased that history will at the very least document the shocking revelations that Mr. McClellan testified to on Friday. Scott McClellan under oath last week agreed with me that it is a likely possibility that Vice President Dick Cheney was the individual who authorized the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson’s covert status. Mr. McClellan also said that he believes more White House officials should come before Congress and reveal the truth about this Administration’s actions. McClellan’s testimony underscores a simple reality: We must dig deeper.

The fact that much of what McClellan testified to on Friday is already known and reported on in the press should not diminish its import. We have a formerly loyal top official in the Bush White House stating under oath that the Bush Administration carried out a campaign of lying and misstatements to trick Congress and the American people into war in Iraq. This former White House Press Secretary states that Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby and Karl Rove likely engaged in behavior that amounts to obstruction of justice regarding the leaking of the identity of covert agent Valerie Plame Wilson.

McClellan’s testimony only touched the tip of the iceberg regarding the corrupt actions of the Bush Administration. As I have written about in my new book Fire-Breathing Liberal – How I learned to Survive (and Thrive) in the Contact Sport of Congress, this Administration has done more to weaken the balance of powers established by the Founding Fathers than any previous White House. In both domestic and foreign policy this cabal of right-wing true believers have violated our laws and our Constitution. Just this year it was revealed that the highest levels of the Administration including President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Colon Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Donald Rumsfeld approved and ordered the torture of prisoners and thereby violated US law, our commitments to international treaties, and vanquished whatever remaining moral authority our nation held in the eyes of the global community. The list goes on and on and includes hiding and censoring scientific findings on global warming and the blatantly political firing of US attorneys.

Earlier this year I began a nationwide campaign to hold impeachment hearings for Vice President Dick Cheney (and I have recently expanded my efforts to push for hearings for Bush as well.) Although the national media completely ignored these efforts, over a quarter of a million Americans did not and signed a petition of support on my site in order to advocate for accountability for this rouge Administration.

Just imagine, ten short years ago our media was obsessed with details of Monica Lewinsky and Linda Tripp and Republicans in Congress actually impeached a popular President of the United States because he had an affair and lied about it. Today we have a President and a Vice President that went to war on false pretenses, illegally ordered the torture of prisoners, obstructed justice by lying about the outing of a covert CIA agent, fired US Attorneys for political reasons, and authorized warrantless spying on American citizens. This president and vice-president took countless despicable actions that surely amount to high crimes and yet the media yawns and even the vast majority of Democrats in Congress are simply uninterested. This arrogant Administration simply does not respect the constitutional powers of Congress and by their actions — and by our reluctance to respond — we threaten to forever weaken the power of Congress. As you know, current and former Bush Administration officials have simply refused to testify before Congress even when subpoenaed.

This has never happened before in the history of our nation. Never before have high level executive officials refused to even appear before Congress when properly summoned by the Legislative Branch. The House of Representatives has held former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten in contempt of Congress for their failure to appear and a lawsuit is ongoing in order to force their appearance. I think we must do more. I have called for Karl Rove — who has also refused to testify — to be held in inherent contempt and for the other renegade officials such as Miers and Bolten to appear as required by their subpoenas or be forced to do so by the House Sergeant of Arms. The power of inherent contempt is lawful whereas the refusal of Miers and Bolten is not. Congress must stand up for itself against this executive abuse of power.

It is now the time for Democrats to be breathing more fire. We need to show the American people that they chose correctly when they returned our party to majority status in Congress. As I argue in my book, when we give Americans a stark choice — progressive values and policies will carry the day against the defeated ideas and old politics of the Bush Administration and the vanquished GOP Congressional majority.

I hope that the McClellan hearing will only be the beginning of an effort for genuine accountability rather than a culmination of the effort. We owe it to the American people and history to pursue the wrongdoing of this Administration whether or not it helps us politically or in the next election. Our actions will properly define the Bush Administration in the eyes of history and that is the true test.


Over the past month or so, I have watched all three series of the movie based on John Jakes’ novels, NORTH AND SOUTH… ahhh…

The writing, the directing, the cinematography, the costuming, the set design, and THE MUSIC… as if all this is not enough, the assembled cast is one of the most talented ever assembled for any one movie…

  • Jimmy Stewart
  • Elizabeth Taylor
  • Patrick Swayzee
  • James Read
  • Leslie-Ann Downs
  • Jean Simmons
  • Kirstie Alley
  • Teri Garber (Luke & Larua)
  • Genie Francis
  • Wendy Kilbourne (married to James Read)
  • David Carradine
  • Inga Swenson (from BENSON)
  • Morgan Fairchild
  • Robert Mitchum
  • Hal Holbrook (ahh… the best!)
  • Robert Guilluame (BENSON)
  • Johnny Cash (too good!)
  • Gene Kelly
  • David Ogden Stiers
  • Wendy Fulton
  • Jonathan Frakes
  • Mary Crosby (Bing’s daughter)
  • Lloyd Bridges
  • Olivia De  Havilland (Melanie in GONE WITH THE WIND)
  • Wayne Newton
  • Forrest Whitaker
  • Jerry Biggs
  • Cathy Lee Crosby
  • Cliff DeYoung
  • Mariette Hartley
  • Peter O’Toole
  • Brandon Smith
  • Rip Torn
  • Robert Wagner
  • Billy Dee Williams
  • Gregory Zaragoza
  • Philip Casnoff

And these are only the ones I recognize! What a tremendous cast, and a great movie.

I was in college when the movie came out, and I remember watching it in its entirety. The music, however, moved me more than anything… I can remember going to the piano and playing it. Here is a clip from the opening credits:

From IMB:

1842, a special summer day at the huge plantation of Mont Royal. A South Carolinian young man, Orry Maine, leaves his rich home for West Point Academy. On his way northwards, in very strange circumstances, he meets two people who will play a decisive role in his life: beautiful lady Madeleine Fabray whom Orryhelps and with whom he falls in love and a “Yankee” George Hazard by whom Orry is helped and who is also on his way to West Point Academy. From that time, Orry and George are best friends and help each other at every moment, they fight for the USA in the Mexican War at Churubusco where George saves Orry’s life. A few years later, the friendship of Orry and George spread to the friendship of their families, the Maines from South Carolina and the Hazards from Pennsylvania. Yet, the love of Orry’s life, Madeleine gets married to Justin LaMotte, a rich cruel owner of nearby plantation in South Carolina. Their love cannot be fulfilled and they only meet in secret. Years pass by and the relations between north and south are not that calm as in the past. Northern abolitionists demand the end of slavery while the south demands secession and separation from the “damn Yankees.” Although George and Orry badly want peace between north and south, there is no escape from the inescapable fate. April, the 12th, 1861 and the attack on the northern fortress Fort Sumter done by the southerners means the beginning of war. These who fought together at Churubusco will have to fight against each other. Friends will have to become enemies. Will war be stronger than peace of mind? May the storm and noise of canons, rifles and bullets destroy honor, respect and true friendship? Written by Marcin Kukuczka

Based on John Jakes best selling novel this is the story of the friendship between two boys – George Hazard and Orry Main – that meet at West Point. George is from a wealthy Pennsylvania steel family and Orry is from a Southern plantation where his family keep slaves. In the years leading up to the Civil War their friendship is tested as their families interact and hostilities between the North and South increase. Notes: In the book Orry loses an arm during the Mexican war where he and George fight together but the in the TV version his injury is re-written as a limp. Written by Susan Southall {}

This sweeping, star-studded epic about two powerful families before and during the Civil War is based on John Jakes’ popular novels. The show tells the saga of the Hazards of Pennsylvania and the Mains of South Carolina and their loves, hatreds, jealousies, and robust rivalry. Book II opens in 1861 and continues the families story against the dramatic backdrop of the war. The carefully filmed battle scenes are sure to please Civil War buffs. Written by Anonymous

Two teenage boys; Orry Main from South Carolina and George Hazard from Pennsylvania, meet on their ways to military academy in West Point. Very soon, they become the best friends ever. In the Academy they spend lots of time together and together make the biggest enemy; ElkanahBent. After graduation, they go for a war with Mexico, where Orry gets hurt really bad, but is saved by George. When they return homes, they don’t give up on their friendship – their families spend summer together, their siblings falls in love, they become business-partners etc. But the situation in the country is not getting better, also not all the family members and neighbours like the idea of people from North and South being friends. In December 1860, South Carolina leaves Union. The war is much closer then it has ever been. It starts at a spring, 1861. George and Orry must fight against each other …


Well, as of tonight, my brother, Destin Lang Haas, is officially the principal of Benton Central Senior-Junior High School located near Fowler, Indiana.

Last November 30th, Destin was hurridly driving my sister-in-law to the hospital to deliver their second son, Frederick. Enroute to the hospital he received the news that his principal had suffered a massive stroke. Destin then became the acting principal, and tonight, the school board officially announced him as the principal.

I am so proud of my little brother!


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June 2008
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