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This display on Interstate 69 marked Work Zone Awareness Week last spring.

Furthermore …

Quality of life joins job considerations

Morristown, Ind., until now has been known mostly for the Kopper Kettle Inn, a quaint restaurant prized for its fried chicken and sugar cream pie. Now the small community southeast of Indianapolis is home to a growing uproar over a proposed power plant.

Tenaska, an Omaha, Neb.-based company, wants to build a $500 million natural gas-fired plant. Morristown’s 1,200 residents are divided over the economic boost it would bring and the disruption to their small-town way of life. Signs proclaiming “STOP TENASKA: Protect our town” have sprouted, and a recent town council meeting was packed with protesters. Town attorney Mark McNeely told the Indianapolis Star it was “the most disruptive meeting I’ve ever been to.”

Critics are worried about water supplies. The town’s peak demand is now just 900,000 gallons a day. Tenaska could use up to 8 million gallons a day, according to a study commissioned by the town.

On the other side are town officials – some of whom work for companies that stand to benefit from the plant – eager to see the 700 construction jobs and 25 permanent full-time positions.

Tenaska still needs some regulatory approval for the project and doesn’t plan to begin construction until it has customers lined up, which could include the utility companies that provide power for Indianapolis homes and businesses.

It’s a tough call for a small town, but the opposition can be interpreted in a positive light – an improving economy means residents are considering quality of life as well as jobs.

On-job deaths decline

Too late for Labor Day but welcome nonetheless is news that the number of work-related deaths in Indiana in 2012 was at the lowest point since data were first recorded in 1992.

Indiana had 113 workplace fatalities last year, with a 28 percent decrease in manufacturing-related deaths. Ten workers died in Indiana factories last year.

“Manufacturing is an inherently dangerous business,” Robert Dittmer, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Labor, told the South Bend Tribune. “We are a manufacturing state, so to see such a significant decline is important to highlight.”

The highest number of deaths were seen in two sectors: 20 each in transportation/warehousing and construction.

More than half of the fatalities recorded overall were vehicle-related, including cases where a construction worker was struck and killed by a motorist. The Department of Labor helped support the Indiana Department of Transportation’s week-long Work Zone Safety Awareness campaign last spring, emphasizing the need for drivers to slow down and exercise caution around highway workers.