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Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Heavy snow and bitter cold this week may have had a benefit – it may have doomed the overwintering eggs of the dreaded emerald ash borer.


Ash borer doesn’t like deep freezes, either

Five good things about the Freeze of ’14:

1. During the entire period this week when temperatures were below zero, the city had absolutely no problem with streakers.

2. Telemarketers throughout the area voluntarily agreed to suspend cold calls.

3. People had no excuse to miss the last BCS Championship Game, and it actually turned out to be a good game.

4. There were no reports of venomous reptiles.

5. Eggs laid by the emerald ash borer may not have survived.

Of all these beneficial developments, No. 5 could prove to be the most worthy of celebration.

As tree-lovers here well know, emerald ash borers are beetles who lay their eggs in ash trees, and the larvae that emerge from them burrow in and damage and destroy those beautiful trees.

Thousands of ash trees along Fort Wayne streets have been destroyed. Nationally, these half-inch-long larvae, which sneaked into the country from China a few years ago, have killed millions of trees.

Experts in (even) colder regions of the United States are already expressing hope that the big chill has already knocked off most of the damnable insects. Even one season of reduced borer populations could give entomologists time to get the problem under control and save trees. It could also give purpose and meaning to our own struggles to survive these last few days.

But Ricky Kemery, Purdue Horticulture Extension educator, said in an email Wednesday that it’s still too early to tell here. Extreme weather has affected insect populations such as gypsy moths and bagworms in the past, Kemery continued, and extended rainy weather cut the number of yellow jackets a few years ago.

“Late spring freezes and prolonged cold spring weather can also delay or diminish pests.”

“Mother Nature is fickle, however. Sometimes weather that affects some pests promotes others,” Kemery wrote. Cool, wet weather last spring led to an increase in the aphid population, for instance.

So, maybe there are only four good things about the Freeze of ’14. But don’t count your ash borers before they hatch.

Amendment beyond help

Here’s a thought: If a proposed constitutional amendment is so ambiguous as to require separate, explanatory legislation six times greater in length than the resolution, perhaps it’s time to admit the proposal is flawed beyond repair.

That point might be evident to most Hoosiers, but it’s not clear to Republican legislative leaders. They will push ahead Monday with a hearing on House Joint Resolution 3, a poorly disguised effort to write a definition of marriage into the state constitution, formerly known as House Joint Resolution 6.

“Unfortunately, instead of addressing the amendment’s defects through proper channels, they’re trying to sidestep and obfuscate the process by introducing a bill they think explains away the potential harm to Hoosier families,” said Megan Robertson, campaign manager for Freedom Indiana, the bipartisan coalition spearheading the fight against the same-sex marriage resolution. “The bill is as troublesome as the amendment itself, which was renumbered to further confuse Hoosiers.”

Ed Feigenbaum of Indiana Legislative Insight called House Bill 1153, the odd companion bill, “perhaps unprecedented.” Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said it was needed to clarify the proposed amendment. “This takes the ‘guesswork’ out of HJR 3,” Long said. “It lays out a clear statement for the courts and Hoosier voters what the intended consequences are and that there are no unintended consequences.”

Clear statement? Then how is it that Long and House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, share different views on the proposal’s effect on civil unions?

The Senate leader said he isn’t sure they can’t occur, while Bosma said they would still be banned.

Enough with the frantic effort to save face on this divisive social issue. Same-sex marriage already is prohibited by state law – is the flawed resolution really worth years of costly litigation?

Hats employ Hoosiers

Hats off to Boone County for its selection as the new headquarters for Hat World, a sports apparel retailer with plans to build a nearly $22 million headquarters in Zionsville. The company, with more than 1,000 retail stores across the nation, plans to add about 300 new administrative, finance, human resource and business development positions there by early 2016.

New jobs are welcome anywhere in Indiana, but we can’t help wishing they had gone to one of the Indiana counties still struggling with unemployment. At 6 percent unemployment for November, Boone County has the state’s seventh-lowest unemployment rate. Nearby Madison County was at 8.3 percent for November, while Fayette County stands at 9.9 percent unemployment.

Median household income in Boone County is $68,774, compared with $48,374 for the rest of the state.