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Thumbs down: Daniels' gasification plan leaves some feeling queasy

Much to the alarm of consumer and environmental activists, Gov. Daniels has revived his flagging coal-gasification deal – and it's frighteningly similar to the one that was shot down by gas companies and investors two years ago, despite having passed the Indiana House and Senate.Daniels' renewed push hinges entirely on the demand for gas. If gas prices rise, Indiana will profit – financially anyway. Supporters of the project say it will create jobs for 200 miners and make Indiana a leader in gasification. But critics note that Indiana households will be forced to pay more for natural gas if demand doesn't rise, environmental concerns notwithstanding. The state will also be locked into a 30-year contract, for better or for worse, if the plan is approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

Thumbs up: Indy crime down 10 percent

Good news, Indianapolis. Preliminary reports show that violent crime in the city dropped by nearly 10 percent in 2010. IMPD reported 100 homicides for the year, a considerable improvement from the 153 recorded in 2006. Officials attribute the lower crime rate to their community-policing strategy implemented in areas that experience the most crime. New programs, like the Youth & Police Initiative, which IMPD plans to expand in the coming year, are expected to continue lowering crime rates in the city.

Thumbs up: Indiana mandates e-cycling

At least Indiana has taken an important eco-step in one way. Electronic recycling, or e-cycling, became state law as of Jan. 1. That means disposing of electronics by mixing them in with your regular garbage is not only environmentally irresponsible – it's illegal. When disposed of improperly, the heat, pressure, and corrosive elements found in landfills break down electronics, allowing heavy metals (think lead, mercury, and cadmium) to seep into the ground and eventually make their way into Indiana's drinking water.

Thumbs up: Mentoring 101

Hoosiers looking to become more actively involved with their communities in 2011 need look no further. The Indiana Department of Education has issued a call for mentors to work with high-schoolers in an effort to keep students off the streets and in classrooms. The Indiana Mentoring Partnership recruited close to 800 mentors in its first year, but a recent survey shows that an estimated 1,320 kids are still waiting for a mentor. So what are you waiting for? January is National Mentoring Month, after all. For more information visit www.abetterhour.org.

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