Ronald D You Are Remembered

Ronald Louis Johannsen

His name was Ronald Louis Johannsen. I called him “Ronald D.” We were buddies from the moment we met. We explored every inch of the nearby forest with our bikes and hiking through it. Climbing the biggest trees was one of our favorite things to do. We didn’t always talk a lot, we really just enjoyed the view wherever we went. Fishing was our next favorite pastime. In all my life that was the only thing that would get me up that early in the morning. I actually hated eating fish and still do but the time I spent together with my friend Ron was one of the few great memories of my childhood.

Ron got his driver’s license before me and we had our first double date together. I believe he had a very attractive young girl named Ann who apparently made a better impression than my young lady as I don’t remember her name. But Ron and Ann certainly stayed together and how he got her to move to Texas I’ll never know.

I actually went to Texas with Ron after we graduated and I couldn’t stand the heat and humidity. I think I preferred the four seasons up here in the Midwest. As usual, life gets in the way and we drifted apart and grew our families and our careers. I was lucky enough to reconnect with Ron a couple of years ago and it sounded as if he had retired and slowed down a bit but I heard the twinkle in his voice when he spoke of his daughters and Ann. I think Ann thought I was a bad influence on him and as it should be, because in life, your wife comes first when you make that commitment. I wish I had the chance to spend more time together with my old friend. I think a lot of people lament on those words but they are true. Happy trails to you my friend until we meet again!

Northwest Indiana’s Proposed Convention Center May Lead to Tax Payers Having to Foot the Bill

I finally decided to write what I definitely know about. I’m concerned about The South Shores Convention and Visitors Bureau / Lake County Indiana’s Convention Bureau proposed plans….

Convention centers have become a go-to project for many communities, with the hopes of turning them into a hub of economic activity. However, many of these efforts have fallen short of expectations. While some cities have managed to create a thriving convention center business, others have struggled to draw in visitors, leaving them financially burdened, draining resources, and ultimately failing. Here are the top five reasons why communities are not successful with convention centers.

The Location Factor

Perhaps the most critical factor for success is the location of the convention center. If it’s situated in a remote location or outside the city center, it’s already at a disadvantage. Convention centers require good accessibility, transportation, and nearby amenities to succeed. This includes easy access to public transport, hotels, restaurants, and attractions. If visitors are having trouble getting to the center or find little to do within walking distance, it’s unlikely they will return.

Limited space

The size of a convention center determines its ability to accommodate visitors and events. Often communities are not successful with convention centers because they do not offer enough space or have limitations due to size. This restricts the community’s ability to attract large events, conferences, or trade shows that need more space. In these cases, event organizers will often look to bigger cities with larger venues to accommodate the event’s requirements.

Poor Management

Many convention centers that fail, do so because of poor management. The center may have started with a promising vision, but the management team fails to execute a well-thought-out and comprehensive plan. This can happen for several reasons; inadequate staffing, underfunding, or mismanagement of resources are a few examples. When convention centers are not managed correctly, this can lead to corruption, inefficiencies, and ultimately, financial failure.


Competition from other convention centers can also cause communities to fail in their efforts. Numerous cities have convention centers, and it’s easy for them to attract visitors to their events, especially if they have a well-established reputation. Cities must distinguish themselves if they intend to attract visitors and events. Doing so requires smart marketing, partnering with local businesses, and utilizing innovative technologies to differentiate themselves from competitors. Communities cannot count on visitors coming to them if they are not putting in the work to stand out from the crowd.

Overestimated Economic Benefits

Communities must be careful not to overestimate the economic benefits of a convention center. When this happens, it creates unrealistic expectations, leading to disappointment when the center fails to meet these expectations. Many communities tend to focus solely on the economic benefits of a convention center, such as job creation and increased tourism, while neglecting the necessary long-term planning essential to success. The center needs to be well-aligned with the community’s business and tourism objectives and must be managed effectively to turn revenue into economic benefits.

In conclusion, communities must continue to weigh the pros and cons of building convention centers before committing resources to these projects. Those who potentially undertake the endeavor must consider carefully critical factors like location, space, management capability, and competition, and not overestimate the potential benefits. With the necessary focus and strategic planning, communities can create successful convention centers that deliver lasting success. At its best, a convention center can act as a hub for driving economic prosperity and serving as a catalyst for positive community growth.

Here is a list of similar communities to Northwest Indiana that have failed with their efforts to produce a thriving convention center due to unrealistic forecasts of revenue and now the local taxpayers have to pay for it.

Branson, Missouri

Fargo, North Dakota

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Asheville, North Carolina

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Atlantic City, New Jersey

Riverside, California

Hagerstown, Maryland

Peoria, Illinois

Rockford, Illinois


I have mentioned how often “Death” has visited me. My mother-in-law, two brothers-in-law, three of our family dogs, and several close friends. This has been all within the last two years. Prior to that, many other friends and relatives. My father-in-law and my own father were really tough to get through when they passed and I don’t think I’ve even recovered from them. With all this death in my life, you would think a person would get used to it. Maybe shall I say more numb to it. Today my mother enters a hospice program and I write this hoping that by expressing my feelings I will be able to cope with this. My mother is over 90 years of age and has lost her memory and her ability to know where she is.  She hasn’t been herself for a long time.

My father was hospitalized when I was about 11 years old with MS. My mother was left to raise my three sisters and I. He passed away when I was about 20 years old. For years my mother and I use to drive on weekends for about an hour and a half to visit my father. He was in a state hospital where I would see my dad who I didn’t know any more or understand. My mother was tortured (though she didn’t show it) for nine years watching her husband deteriorate and feeling completely helpless in doing anything for him. He would never regain any resemblance to the man he used to be.

When I was about fifteen years old, I ran away to Southern Illinois where a friend was at school. It was a six-hour trip which was quite a distance and I didn’t tell anyone. They found me, and I went home a couple of days later my mother acted like everything was ok. I expected quite a beating but it never happened. About a year ago, I asked her why she didn’t beat the crap out of me. She said she thought it was something I needed to do and didn’t question me at all and knew I would come back when I was ready. I didn’t deserve her, but I thank God I have had her in my life for as long as I have. I have expressed my love to her many times and I know she knows that.

I have watched many people slowly slip away but, none of them were my mother. This show unfolding before me I cannot watch. I am not prepared for it, nor will I ever be.

The British Spy I Met


British Spy

I was a young naive man who up until that moment when I met him, had no clue about the world beyond the sheltered life that I had lived. I was a bellman and shuttle driver at a hotel near the world’s busiest airport, Chicago’s O’Hare International. It was a slow Sunday and the hotel seemed to be very empty with little activity at all. A guest suddenly appeared and asked if I could get his package out of receiving and have it ready for him in an hour. Of course, I responded with an enthusiastic response with yes sir, right away. Of course, I was thinking “tip time,” that’s how we bellman made our living helping our guests with whatever they might need within our ability.

Little did I know that it was a slow day and all the managers had taken the day off after a hectic week and no one had a key to the receiving dock office. Frantic phone calls to said managers were to no avail either. As I pondered as to how to break into the locked room I had to proceed on my scheduled airport run to pick up incoming guests.

As a driver I loved interacting with guests finding anything out about them was always interesting and I was pretty good at starting conversations. I picked up only one guest on this particular run and he sounded like he had a British accent. I opened our conversation with how his day was going and he returned the question back to me. I have no idea as to why I would share the fact that I was about to face a very upset guest and didn’t know how to explain to that guest that I couldn’t help him. In giving this stranger a few more details he laughed it off, stating it sounds like something he would do and how many times he had locked himself out of his own house but had always found a way to get in. He offered to help me and not wanting him to get involved I somewhat said I’m sure we’ll get hold of someone with a key soon. We arrived at the hotel and he proceeded to check-in and I thought that would be the last of me seeing him. Five minutes later, he came back and said please, show me the room and maybe I can help you.

What possessed me I’ll never know, but I took this stranger to the back of the hotel and showed him the secure receiving door with its locked handle and deadbolt. He said this will be all right. Reaching into his inside jacket pocket he pulled out a lock picking set and quickly picked both locks without any issues. I know my mouth was hanging open and I was in shock. I looked into the room and discovered the box wasn’t even there, it was behind the front desk and no one had said anything. I stated, “what am I going to do with this open door”. He said, “it will be fine, I’ll lock them back for you”. Within seconds, this man had secured both locks and I turned to him and asked him politely, what he did for a living. He stated that he worked for the British Government, smiled and turned and walked away and I never saw him again. This was one of my first encounters with some very interesting people I have met over the years in my career in the hospitality industry.

My Friend My Father

I was at the airport in Atlanta, either coming or going to a convention for the tourism industry and I would hear it. I could be in the middle of the convention exhibit hall and this booming voice would yell out for everyone to hear. “My Son My Son,” the voice would call and I knew who it was. He was my black father, he was Mr. Bill Williams. It was a sight to behold, my black father calling out to his white son. It was the 70’s and Bill and I had formed a strong bond together that wasn’t always appreciated by some people.

The first time my wife met Bill was also a shock in that, I hadn’t mentioned my “father”  to her. She was very curious as this black man called out for his son in the airport approaching me. His glowing praises to her about me, assured her I’m sure that she had chosen the right husband.

Bill and I formed our relationship while creating the Chicago Chapter of the Society of Government Meeting Planners. Bill was with the Chicago Convention Bureau and I was at the Congress Hotel, as a very young sales manager focused on the government market. Bill and I had an appointment one day with a group of Military Veterans to book their convention in Chicago. Our lunch meeting turned into seven hours in the bar with these gentlemen. I don’t think I even gave them a tour of the rooms, I had to leave. But we booked them and many other conventions for the city of Chicago over the years.

Bill had somewhat retired over the last few years but he stopped by almost weekly at our bar and restaurant in Hyde Park and as always, he would exclaim to everyone (which could be up to 100 people) who I was and they should all appreciate his son and what I had done for them and the city. For that my father, I am appreciative and will never forget you. I will miss you, my friend.