The county seeks a special fee for the proposed Indianawashington visitor center

When it comes to building things like stadiums, Colosseums or convention centers, Indiana and many communities across the country have started adopting special fees that help pay for projects. Daviess County is watching it too.

“This is the big dream of financing a convention center or a reception room or a meeting place where we can have functions with large groups,” said Daviess County Tourism Commission President DeWayne Shake. “This is something we really miss now.”

In most communities, those special taxes take the form of taxes on food and drinks or on innkeepers in hotels, although some places have different names for those.

“I was traveling across the country and would be shocked by the amount of special taxes in the rooms,” said Daviess County Council President Kent Norris. “Many hotels would call it the stadium tax. That’s how they financed these things. In some cases, it would be up to 18-20 percent. “

There are currently 31 cities and counties in Indiana collecting taxes on food and drinks. Most of them account for 1%, although Orange County and Marion County have rates of 2%. In Daviess County, there is no tax on food and drink and there seems to be no plans to start one.

“I haven’t heard of anyone mentioning a food and drink tax,” said Shake.

And even if they did mention it, there seems to be little chance of it being implemented.

“This would greatly affect the local population,” said Norris. “People go out to eat here. At this point, I am not in favor of a tax on food and drink. “

However, the county has a 5% tax on innkeepers, which increases by about $ 33,000 a year to help promote travel and tourism in the county. Daviess County currently has just over 300 motels and hotel rooms which are full about 75% of the time. There were times, like when I-69 and Duke Power Plant were under construction, when the occupancy rate was even higher. The hotel business is currently booming with a 72-room Hampton Inn under construction on Washington’s south side. The $ 7.5 million project is slated to open later this year.

Over the past two years, local leaders have pushed to increase the fees of Daviess County inn holders from 5% to 7% with 2% more for building a local convention or visitor center.

“It’s amazing what a mere 2% would do with the dollars raised,” said Shake. “It adds up very quickly. It would be a very small increase, but what that small increase will probably mean is along the line of building a visitor center for Daviess County.”

While no one likes tax increases, officials point out that it is a tax that should have little or no impact on local residents.

“This will have no impact on the local population,” said Shake. “It’s the people who stay in our hotels who pay for this. They are the visitors to our community.”

“For the most part it has no impact on local residents,” added Norris. “It has an impact on contract construction workers from out of town who work at GPC or at power plants. The money would come mainly from people from out of town.”

The proposed increase was presented several times to county officials and each time they supported it. “All of our county officials have signed up,” said Shake. “We hit a state obstacle.”

About two thirds of Indiana counties have innkeeper fees. Most are at 5%, but the counties Allen, Marion, St. Joseph and Vigo are all higher.

This means that it can be raised, but so far state lawmakers will not support it for Daviess County. “No politician wants to be known to support a tax hike,” said Shake. “This must overcome the state and this is the obstacle we have to go through now. It is frustrating because it is something that really needs to be done. We have to find a way to get this two percent somehow. “

“It’s difficult for the state to get approvals for this, but we want to get it substantially on the state house agenda for approval and see if we can do it,” said Norris.

Multiple organizations, elected local officials and individuals have tried to convince the legislator to support the proposed increase and continued push. “Our new executive director Joe Morris has some good state-level contacts and this is one of his missions since he took up the position,” said Shake.

Leaders say everyday residents can make a difference in moving forward with the proposal. “I hope we can all push so hard to get through,” said Shake. “The best way to do this is to talk to your local state representatives and tell them how much it is needed and what it would mean for us.”

For Shake, the additional fee paid by visitors to help build a new convention or visitor center is something that should already happen.

“This is something we need,” he said. “Passing this is child’s play for me.”


Trent Cooper gives new life to Gérard ‘s former bread bakery | Features food + drinks | Seven days

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Trent Cooper puts a freshly baked leavened bâtard on a cooling rack in Westford - GLENN RUSSELL

  • Glenn Russell

  • Trent Cooper puts a freshly baked sourdough bâtard on a cooling rack in Westford

In the fall of 2012, a pizza chef in Jacksonville, Florida wrote a letter to the Vermont bread baker Gérard Rubaud asking Rubaud to consider him for an apprenticeship in his Westford bakery. Acclaimed baker, raised in France, Rubaud has sometimes taught aspiring bakers in his hilltop bakery in the years preceding his death on October 7, 2018, at the age of 77.

“For many years I have been looking for a purpose in my life. I have found out that I want to be a baker,” wrote Trent Cooper. “I agree more with your philosophy on bread than any other baker I have spoken of or read in the books. Your admiration, persistence and severe beliefs about bread are what I admire most about you.” He had read about Rubaud on the Farine bread blog.

Cooper, then 27, continued to write some of his life, concluding with a description of his work in the pizzeria, where he had given the bakery a name (Neesheta) and “began to treat the pasta balls as if they were the my daughters.”

Two weeks went by without an answer. Intent on apprenticeship, Cooper resents his letter. Before the second missive arrived in Vermont, Rubaud called to offer Cooper a trial run to see if an entire apprenticeship could work.

“I remember how I felt when he called me: Is this really happening?“Cooper said.

The call would lead to a four-month apprenticeship, from autumn 2012 to winter 2013. Now, about seven years later, Cooper is renting Rubaud’s old patisserie and filling it with the life and warmth of sourdough bread which he cooks as a soloist in a wood oven.

Rubaud’s daughter Julie Rubaud, owner of Red Wagon Plants in Hinesburg, helped Cooper get in touch with the owners of the property about his interest in pastry. She and Cooper had met during her apprenticeship.

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Trent Cooper by portioning and shaping naturally leavened bread - GLENN RUSSELL

  • Glenn Russell

  • Trent Cooper by portioning and modeling the naturally leavened bread

“When Trent was my father’s apprentice, one day I had the vision that he took control of the pastry shop,” said Julie. “It’s a good choice. It reminds me a little of my father: he looks like the kind of person who can spend time alone up there.”

Like Gérard Rubaud, Cooper is driven by the pursuit of excellence. Both were top level athletes: Rubaud was a climber and an alpine skier; Cooper, born in Bremerton, Washington, and raised there and in Tampa, Florida, played forward on a Major League Soccer team.

In Westford, Cooper focuses on the production of pain de campagne, his favorite name for French sourdough, in oblong loaves called bâtards.

“I make a type of bread,” he said. “If I do two or three or four, I am dividing my attention. If I divide my attention, I will never know how much I can do it.”

Cooper, now 35, moved to the apartment above the bakery in December and got to work to get in shape, order supplies and connect with the stores. He started selling his bread – prepared with hard red winter flour, freshly ground spelled berries, sea salt, water and levain (appetizer) – in January. Loaves of Trent’s Bread is now available in about half a dozen stores, including Jericho Market, Sweet Clover Market in Essex and, recently, both locations in Burlington City Market, Onion River Co-op.

Cooper bakes about 250 loaves a week and often delivers them hot from the oven. If the market supports it, it would like to increase that number to 150 or 200 loaves per day.

“I feel that Gérard’s bread was unique to him and that it should be with him,” Cooper said one recent morning, shaping loaves of dough that he had started mixing at midnight. “This is very similar, but it is my way of doing it. Gérard and I are different people.”

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Mark a bâtard of sourdough before putting it in the oven - GLENN RUSSELL

  • Glenn Russell

  • Mark a mother yeast bâtard before putting it in the oven

He looked up from the bread bench and said the name of his teacher, “Gérard Rubaud”, rolling his R in homage to the Frenchman. “People will stop and talk about him, Gérard’s old friends from the neighborhood,” he added.

Cooper met his teacher when he flew to Burlington for the trial phase, a few days after Rubaud had called him. He arrived at the bakery around noon while Rubaud was loading loaves of bread into the oven.

“The first thing he did when I got here was to look at my hands,” said Cooper. “He looks at my palms and said: ‘You will be a good baker. Good bakers have short and wide hands.'”

The stage ended three days later when Rubaud said to Cooper: “You’re okay” and accepted it for an apprenticeship, said Cooper.

Cooper returned to Jacksonville to sort things out before returning to Vermont for his bread studio. During his flight home, he carried two loaves of Rubaud’s bread. The flight attendant told him to put them on the floor.

“‘I can’t do it'”, he recalled saying. “‘This is Gérard’s bread.'”

Cooper found homes for his dogs, Benny and June, and drove north to Westford in his 1998 Buick. During his apprenticeship, he did not mix pasta or bake loaves – those practices belonged to Rubaud, Cooper said. He helped shape the dough and received the peel from Rubaud after the latter used the tool to place the loaves in the oven. He baked apprentice loaves.

The apprenticeship was centered on levain, a portion of the dough that is fed with flour, water and a little spelled and sea salt every four or five hours during the day. The dough ferments the dough making it rise and giving flavor to the bread.

“The advantage was crucial,” said Cooper. “You can’t pretend. You have to learn it.”

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Freshly baked natural yeast bâtards - GLENN RUSSELL

  • Glenn Russell

  • Freshly baked mother dough bâtard

A major difference between Cooper’s and Rubaud’s bread is the percentage of the flour withdrawn, Cooper said. Use a slightly higher ratio, about 24 percent of the weight of the flour. This method tends to keep the holes in the bread on the smaller side. He doesn’t want his jelly to drop.

“Making bread at Gérard’s level requires extraordinary dedication,” said Cooper. “Not many people I’ve ever met had that level of dedication in everything they do.”

The unpaid apprenticeship ended after four months, when Rubaud decided that Cooper had mastered, his student recalled. The baker made this decision the day Cooper’s gain peaked faster than Rubaud’s in a dough fight, according to Cooper.

“When the apprentice has nothing else to learn from the teacher, this is the end,” said Cooper. “I didn’t come here to pass the time. I didn’t come here to have fun.”

Cooper, who had stayed in the bakery, didn’t have a place to stay and didn’t have enough money to go back to Florida. So he crashed into a delivery driver’s house in Burlington for about a week, and then got a sugary job on a farm in Pennsylvania.

When he had earned enough money, he returned to Florida, this time settling in the Tampa / St. Petersburg area.

“I went on a mission to open a bakery, but it didn’t happen,” said Cooper. “I had no money and I couldn’t get funding … I was so poor. I’m still poor, but at least now I have a bakery.”

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Trent Cooper is preparing to divide and shape naturally leavened bread into bâtards - GLENN RUSSELL

  • Glenn Russell

  • Trent Cooper is preparing to divide and shape the naturally leavened bread into bardelle

Cooper has worked in restaurants and bakeries for several years. Last fall, after learning that Rubaud was dead, he sent his condolences to Julie and inquired about the pastry shop. He put him in touch with Michael and Agnes Hibbs, who had purchased the property in October 2017.

Michael Hibbs, a retired engineer, said they were looking for a baker who would be a suitable companion.

“We wanted to see the place go on and not just fall apart,” said Hibbs. “That’s why we were happy when Trent showed up. He seemed to be the right person to take control of him.”

The other day, while Cooper’s loaves rested before baking, he ate bread, cheese and pickles, delighting in every bite. “This is fantastic,” he said. “This is the best part of my life.”

During the morning snack, he described his role as a baker as “just the catalyst among the ingredients”.

“I am a levain administrator,” he said. “She is what makes bread.”

Cooper thinks his bread is the best on Thursday, when he makes an afternoon delivery to Burlington’s Intervale Community Farm. Levain seems to know that it will be his destination, he said.

Standing on the farm last week, Cooper chewed a piece and pronounced his verdict: “I wish I could make such a good dough every day. My energy and the energy of the bread, we were aligned.”


The UK government has insisted on making salt reduction targets in food businesses mandatory

Action on Salt has published studies stating that they provide new and strong evidence to support salt reduction as a key public health strategy to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease in the UK and worldwide.

Based on the studies, the campaign team wants to make mandatory the new voluntary salt reduction targets currently under consultation by Public Health England, which it plans to publish later this year.

The analysis included 133 randomized trials with 12,197 individuals who examined the effect of salt reduction on blood pressure and showed that salt reduction lowered blood pressure in the whole population, including those with blood pressure within normal ranges . Also, the greater the reduction in salt intake, the greater the drop in blood pressure.

This study, according to the authors, also showed that older people, who have higher blood pressure or of black ethnicity, had an even greater drop in blood pressure for a given reduction in salt intake, with reductions in long term which probably have a greater effect.

The Salt action states that these findings are important as they indicate that a population-level reduction in salt intake should lower the population’s blood pressure which in itself will cause a large reduction in stroke and heart disease and, at the same time over time, it is likely to prevent people from developing high blood pressure as they get older.

A second review by researchers from the Wolfson Institute, Queen Mary University of London and Action on Salt and recently published in the JACC (Journal of the American College of Cardiology) (18 February 2020) entitled “Salt reduction to prevent hypertension and disease Cardiovascular: JACC’s state-of-the-art review has reviewed nearly 200 published studies, which found that high salt intake is the main cause of increased blood pressure, which in itself is the leading cause of stroke and heart disease, major causes of death and disability in the UK Too much salt is also closely linked to osteoporosis, stomach cancer and kidney disease.