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Allen County assets rank well in state survey

Allen County has a better-than-average quality of life, according to a recent study from Ball State University.

The Indiana Community Assets Inventory and Rankings 2012 graded the state’s 92 counties on a curve based on five areas: people, education, health, government impact and economy, and arts, entertainment and education. The study is part of the university’s Building Better Communities program, supported by the Indiana lieutenant governor’s office. Allen County received A’s for health care availability and art and entertainment opportunities.

“I’m thrilled the survey is showing those type of results,” said Jim Sparrow, executive director of Arts United. “Allen County has worked very hard to develop its arts and cultural assets. It’s good to see that work is paying off.”

The county received a B in the people category and a C for education, which is based on the percentage of students passing ISTEP+, high school graduation rates and percentage of residents taking advantage of higher education opportunities.

The area where the county is the least successful is in government impact and economy. Allen County earned a C- for factors such as the local tax rate and crime rate.

The full report is available online at

Idaho’s gamble paying off big for Utah as well

When lottery jackpots grow, as they did with the Mega Millions $656 million jackpot last week, Utahans rush for the border – literally.

A Salt Lake Tribune analysis of Idaho Lottery Commission sales data for 2011 showed that $1 out of every $5 collected came from neighboring Utah, where gambling is illegal.

“I’d just like to say thank you to all the people from Utah who come up to buy tickets,” Alexis Daniels, manager of the Top Stop Chevron in the Idaho border city of Malad told the Tribune. Last week, customers at her store waited in line three hours to buy Mega Millions tickets.

Malad, with a population of just more than 2,100, sold more lottery tickets in 2011 than any city in the state except for Boise, with a population of 205,000.

Utah’s appetite for lottery games isn’t likely to change state law, however. Legislators have said gambling is one of the few issues the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints publicly opposes. The church will not disclose its membership count, but a 2004 report found that more than 60 percent of Utah’s residents were Mormons.

State school takeover meets with resistance

Tension is growing between Indianapolis Public Schools and the Indiana Department of Education, which is handing operation of four IPS schools over to a private turnaround operator.

State officials accuse IPS of “manipulating and obstructing” the transition by refusing to turn over student records and removing computers and other equipment. State Superintendent Tony Bennett said he intends to take action to ensure the school district’s cooperation.

District officials insist they are cooperating.

“IPS meets multiple times every month with the turnaround schools staff,” IPS spokeswoman Mary Louise Bewley said. “We have shared information with them that they have requested. If anything, we’re finding it difficult to get reciprocating information from them.”

Charter Schools USA will take over Howe High School, Emma Donnan Middle School and Manual High School next fall; Edison Learning and EdPower will take over other schools. Allen County schools at risk of takeover, including North Side and South Side high schools, met improvement goals last year as part of the LEAD School program and were removed from the target list.

As they seek to speed up the takeover process, state officials shouldn’t be surprised to learn that local officials aren’t eager to hand over schools to private operators with unproven records. In asserting that competition is good for education, they should expect the competition to grow heated.

Manson remains menacing

If photos of mass murderer Charles Manson looked scary after his arrest back in 1969 – wild-eyed, shaggy hair – the latest of the now 77-year-old inmate are equally frightening.

With gray hair and a beard, he bears some resemblance to Osama bin Laden. And the swastika he carved into his forehead during his trial for murdering actress Sharon Tate and others remains clearly visible.

Manson comes up for parole this week but will undoubtedly remain locked up – he has incurred a number of rules violations and still could pose a threat to society. He has not attended a parole hearing since 1997, when he talked for hours.