Earlier this month I attended the annual Indiana Authors’ Fair at the History Center in Indianapolis. I picked up a copy of a Ray Boomhower’s biography of Jim Jontz who served in the Indiana General Assembly for five terms beginning in 1974 and in Congress until 1992. (The People’s Choice— Congressman Jim Jontz of Indiana)
Jontz’s first election victory was largely the result of his active opposition to an Army Corps-proposed destructive dam on Big Pine Creek in Warren County near Williamsport. He said later “I gave a damn about a dam”. Jontz went on to represent Indiana citizens on many populist causes including the environment, labor, health care, and the elderly.
The Big Pine dam was first proposed (via an authorizing act of the Indiana General Assembly) in 1967. In 1976 the Army Corps Louisville District recommended that the dam project be abandoned due to its environmental impacts and to its dubious claimed benefits. But it didn’t actually finally die until 1990 when the Army Corps formally de-authorized the project.
Jim Jontz died in 2007 at the age of only 55 from colon cancer. His former wife noted that “his ultimate goal was to be a spokesman for those that couldn’t speak—the trees, the animals, the air, the water”.
Bloomhower’s book has much interesting history about the misguided dam proposal and about Jontz’s tireless work to expose it as a destructive boondoggle as well as his many other good works.