E-cigarette epidemic

Imagine 65,000 high school students packed into Notre Dame Stadium passionately cheering on their favorite football team. Their faces are painted. Their voices are getting hoarse. A timeout is called, and all 65,000 kids dig into their pockets, pull out an e-cigarette and take a hit.

That’s the state of tobacco use in Indiana according to the Indiana Youth Tobacco Survey released Aug. 29 by the State Department of Health. And estimated 65,000 Indiana high school students are using e-cigarettes, and more than 14,000 middle school students are doing the same. Thousands more use combustible cigarettes. Those kids, and I stress the word kids, are setting themselves up for a lifetime of addiction and illnesses associated with tobacco.

Emerging tobacco products have resulted in a surge in use. Many people even refer to it as an “epidemic.” Now is the time to stand together and say, “Enough!”

As a member of the Elkhart County Minority Health Coalition, I pledge our continued efforts to support policies based on the CDC’s best practices. Join us as we call on leaders to enact comprehensive smoke-free ordinances, significantly increase the price of tobacco products, adequately fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs in all 92 counties, raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products, restrict the sale of flavor/menthol products, and eliminate use of e-cigarettes among youth.

Our kids are worth it.

Tara Morris,


Long live Blue Blazer

We had one high school and someone said we should have two high schools. Then someone said we should have one high school. We can partially undo the damage by putting things back to the way they were. Did someone really have a problem with Mr. Blue Blazer?

Lots of schools have lions for mascots but there is only one Blue Blazer. Stop and think about all the folks that grew up with and graduated with the Blue Blazer and the old colors. I guess it’s OK to leave them out in the cold. Nobody will listen to someone old enough to be in the class of 1965 but they’ll listen to someone who says, “We need to have two high schools, or is it one high school?” Nothing is sacred.

Pete Ostapchuk, Class of ’65


Keep Mr. B

It is such a shame to loose the best mascot we’ve ever had. Mr. B dates back to the first Elkhart High and was created here.

The article I read listed so many lion mascots, and we are throwing away an original. Couldn’t we incorporate blue and gold into Mr. B and not use a lion? We could keep the Mangy Lion for other purposes and not miss out on an original. 

Sharon Johnson, 


Suicide prevention

September is National Suicide Prevention Month and the Indiana Suicide Prevention Coalition is asking everyone to Take 5 to Save Lives! The campaign’s goal is to encourage everyone to take five simple steps that focus on preventing the tragedy of suicide. The steps are:

1. Learn the signs: Although it may not always be obvious, individuals experiencing an emotional crisis usually exhibit one or more of the warning signs of suicide. Your ability to identify the signs will better prepare you to take action and could help save a life.

2. Know how to help: You shouldn’t be afraid to ask your friend if they’re having thoughts of suicide. By knowing exactly what to say and do, you’ll be ready to act and keep your friends and family safe.

3. Practice self-care: Research indicates that our mental fitness or wellness is crucial to our overall long-term health, and can even protect us from disease. Learn some tips for keeping mentally fit. Make it a priority!

4. Reach out: If you or someone you know is in emotional distress you must reach out for help. You are not alone. Learn about different help options and how to take that first step in seeking help and care.

5. Spread the word: Let’s get people talking! By sharing the Take 5 campaign with five other people, you can raise awareness of the problem of suicide and equip people with easy tools to help themselves and others.

By taking five minutes to learn about suicide, you will be making a difference in the world. Visit the toolkit section of the website at take5tosavelives.org for more information. If you’re interested in getting involved with suicide prevention in our community, plan to attend Let’s Talk: Changing the Conversation About Suicide on Sept. 19 at the Calvary Assembly of God, 1010 E. Mishawaka Road, Elkhart. Remember, suicide prevention is everyone’s business.

Barb Welty,

Elkhart County Suicide Prevention Coalition

Reduce storm damage

As a means to reduce storm damage we need to require architects and builders to design and install permanent storm shutters that can be securely closed and locked down in less than five minutes but are attractively folded, rolled up or rolled back when not in use.

This would improve the economy by introducing new products and by reducing the time needed to close up a building against storm damage allowing more time for a business to stay open. There are roll down security doors in New York and “bear proof” vacation homes and cabins. We must be more proactive in reducing storm damage.

David Shepherd,



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