A Woman of Many Hats

It’s a nice house. Bright yellow. Well-kept yard. It’s on a busy road–so every time you drive by it you think how many wrecks might happen on it. Inside, the smell of cooking chicken fills the air. Even though you just ate, you find yourself growing hungry. You don’t necessarily notice how clean the house is, but rather how un-dirty it is.

Around the corner, in the dining room is a woman. She’s in her 50s. She’s Hispanic. She’s drinking coffee. Doing paperwork. On her screen she cycles through blueprints. A gas station. A hospital. A school. She’s bidding work.

Then it all comes together: the clean house, the blueprints, the bidding––she is the owner of Bixler Interiors, a final construction cleaning company. She calls out to her son to check the dinner in the oven before making her daily phone calls.

When a construction company like Weigand or LBC builds a high rise or a hospital or anything else, they make a mess. They are primarily concerned with constructing the building and moving on, so they leave their mess when they’re done. Someone has to clean that. Someone has to make sure the windows are spotless and that the bathrooms are shiny. That someone is Deb Bixler, owner of Bixler Interiors.

Bixler Interiors has been a steady company for the last ten years. Now, Bixler is working toward establishing herself as a minority woman in business. The Indiana Laborers Union Partnership is responsible for doling out these achievements by carefully selecting those that accurately fit the requirements. Bixler currently has her WBE, or Women’s Business Enterprise.

This year, she also won the 2018 Influential Women Owned Business Award for the State of Indiana, according to the Local 81 Laborer’s Union. Bixler said she is happy about winning the award, but it doesn’t change her outlook.

“I work hard and I’m honest with people. I feel work should just be that easy. Everything in between is just someone making it harder than it has to be,” she said when asked how she tries influence people in her field.

As Bixler further detailed her work life, it became very apparent that this positive attitude is a common theme.

The origin of Bixler interiors is an ever-evolving path of choices. Bixler’s first management position was at a Johnson Junction gas station in Decatur, IN. She then moved on to running an Angela Bridges Fitness center before eventually opening her own fitness center for six years. After closing the fitness center, she got a job at GMS construction as a “runner,” or “gofer,” as they called it.

“But I called it a go-for-it-girl,” Bixler said with a big laugh. She then moved on to start her own cleaning company, but there was another pit-stop before then.

Her mother opened a furniture company and had Deb manage it. Like most things Bixler is a part of, the furniture business evolved into something greater.

“We decided to start picking up our own furniture, so we decided to get out own semi. From there we ended up owning—within five years—a fleet of semis,” Bixler said.

Bixler’s mother then opened her own trucking company. Deb worked dispatch and accounted for payroll. Eventually, Bixler had something of a falling out with her mother, forcing her out of a job. She had nothing. She had no way to provide for her family. She was lost. Until she started Bixler Interiors. While she had dabbled in cleaning once or twice for side money in the past, her first big job was Vera Bradley. At 205,000 square feet, Bixler ambitiously bid the job and won. She said she didn’t have time to doubt herself.

“I was too excited. Cleaning big jobs is no different than the small ones, just more time consuming,” Bixler said. “You take it one room at a time and eventually, you’ll be done.”

Bixler didn’t do it alone, though. She enlisted the help of her family. Her children Jordan, James and Sayge worked for her. Since then, the business has always been a family owned company. While Vera Bradley was a big job to start with, that didn’t stop Bixler from chasing bigger and better things. She went on to win jobs like the Ash building downtown or the recently finished Parkview Cancer Center.

Bixler said working with her family is a great experience. Sayge, her daughter, said working with her mom is great because you don’t have a stranger yelling at you.

“We all appreciate and love each other,” Sayge said. “So it’s not stressful.”

Bixler said her life has been a busy one. She has met a lot of people and done a lot of things, but her biggest priority has always been being a mother and grandmother. She homeschooled her two youngest children and has worked with them at Bixler Interiors for the last ten years. Now that her two youngest children are starting their college careers, Deb is trying to let them go.

“I think it’s really sad,” said Sayge, “We’ve always worked a lot together. So it’s sad that we can’t be together all the time like we used to.”

Sayge started working with her mom at age 15. It’s work that she doesn’t mind, in fact she said it can be meditative.

“It’s nice to get out of the house and work hard sometimes,” she said.

While Bixler interiors will never truly end as her children have vowed to help whenever they can, it must begin its descent. But that’s okay with Deb Bixler.

“No matter where you’re at money-wise, you can choose to be good and happy with it or you can be miserable. I choose to be happy wherever I’m at.”

After a full day of school for her two youngest children and a hard day’s work for the oldest, Deb has finished the night’s dinner. With proper seasoning and another contagious laugh from Deb Bixler, the family sat down and enjoyed a meal together. There is no “switch” for Deb Bixler. She is always a mother. It doesn’t turn off when she’s working. It doesn’t turn off when she’s had a hard day.

“I enjoy being a mother,” Bixler said, with a confident smile.

A Guide to Dungeons & Dragons

So you want to play Dungeons & Dragons? You’ve heard about it. You’ve seen your uncle’s bag of oddly-shaped dice. You may have even seen it played on shows like “Community” and “Stranger Things.” But what is it?

What is Dungeons & Dragons?

The Player’s Handbook describes Dungeons & Dragons as a “childhood game of make-believe,” but with structure and consequences decided by dice.

According to the Dungeon Master’s Guide, D&D is a game of swords and sorcery. It’s a collaborative story telling game with heroes and villains, dragons and zombies, magic and politics. It can be anything you want it to be.

To an outsider, a game of D&D might look like a group of people sitting around talking about swords and dragons but that’s only because it’s primarily made up of imagination.

Jarod DePew, the Dungeon Master (DM) for his game, defines D&D as a game of imagination with three different parts: “the explanation of the surroundings, the players reacting, and the DM explaining the effects of their actions.”

According to DePew, a game of D&D may sound something like this:

Dungeon Master: You walk into a pitch black room. There’s a scent of smoke, but no fire. What do you do?

Player: I light a torch and investigate the area for clues.

Dungeon Master: You find a half-burned treasure chest and a pile of bones.


What do I need to start playing?

The two main components of a D&D game are the player and the Dungeon Master. The Player’s Handbook suggests a game consist of four players and a Dungeon Master chosen before game night for ample preparation time.

When it comes to game night, the players and Dungeon Master will need character sheets, writing utensils, and dice.

Perhaps one of the most iconic things is a Dungeon Master’s screen. A Dungeon Master’s screen can be something as simple as two binders or folders propped up in front of the Dungeon Master so the players can’t see their rolls or statistics of the monsters they’re fighting, according to DePew.

Another necessity for a game of a D&D game is food. Considering a game may last anywhere from two to eight hours on average (some play as long as 12 hours), being able to replenish calories burnt from fighting a dragon is a must, DePew said.


How do I become a Dungeon Master?

The Dungeon Master is “everything the players are not,” DePew said.

They are responsible for outlining a narrative, possible encounters, and potential situations for the players to react to.

There are several styles of Dungeon Mastering. Many Dungeon Masters like to prepare for any situation the players may wind up in. This means creating maps, characters and situations for anywhere the players may go.

Other Dungeon Masters find this method to be redundant.

“I prefer improv. Don’t get me wrong, I have papers full of information, but I like to improv,” DePew said.

“I like being a DM because I have a very insane imagination and I’m able to see things a majority of people can’t. I enjoy explaining to my friends and cohorts what’s going on in my imaginary world,” Depew explained.


How do I become a player?

The first thing you need to do as a player is create a character. This consists of choosing a race and class you think will be fun to play. For example, you could be Darius, the gnome fighter from the lost island of Loraxia, or you could be Hirron, the elvish warlock who once slayed a red dragon – with hundreds of character combinations, you can build any type of character you’d like.

Jordan Kortenber, who is primarily a player, said he likes being able to “run in, beat people up, and kick doors down, but some people like to cast a bunch of magic and spells. Some people prefer to be sneaky.”

During the character creation process you and the rolls of your dice will decide different attributes of your character like hit points, items and spells.

Game night is primarily about roleplay and pretending to be someone else, but there are many styles of play.

“A lot of people get embarrassed because they don’t want to say something embarrassing, but sometimes that’s the point. Our stories can be really dark and edgy sometimes, but more times than not, it will end up being funny,” Kortenber said.


Why should I play?

Kortenber explained that while there dozens of books and guides, the rules aren’t what matters. The game is really about friendship and storytelling.

“It’s a way to make new friends and even get closer to the friends you already have. Like, you’re playing for hours sometimes and getting to know a person on a whole different level because they’re expressing themselves through their character,” Kortenber said.


So you’re interested? Now it’s time to roll up some cool characters and get ready to dive into some dungeons. Have your dice ready and snacks prepared. And most importantly — May your swords be sharp and your rolls be high…

IPFW Police Department Keeps Their Focus on Safety Amid Budget Cuts

Budget cuts and a smaller staff are not hindering the IPFW police department’s focus on safety, says IPFW Police Chief Steven Kimbrough.

“There’s been a pinch across campus,” he said, “but we still have officers working 24/7.”

The campus police department’s salaries and wages budget has decreased by more than $225,000 since 2012.

Dr. David Wesse, IPFW vice chancellor of financial and administrative affairs, is currently working on the IPFW budget. He provides budget information for 12 different IPFW department heads.

Wesse’s biggest financial change, most recently, has been the Purdue University realignment. With the realignment and budget cuts, Wesse said this year balancing the budget this year has been a challenge.

“You gotta’ go backwards to meet the budget,” Wesse said.

Wesse said the IPFW police department felt the pain of this year’s budget cuts. In order to keep costs low, IPFW Police Department did not hire replacements for their most recent retirees. Instead, Kimbrough’s previous position as lieutenant to chief has yet to be filled.

“You manage your time,” Police Chief Kimbrough said. “You manage your staff to make sure needs are being met.”

He described the extra hours required after budget cuts as “peaks and valleys,” with managers and directors rising up for a time until things settle down.

Kimbrough said he and Wesse have started conversations about additional expenses for safety, including defibrillators in every squad car and electronic door locks.

IPFW currently has over 800 security cameras on campus. Wesse and Kimbrough are interested in obtaining body cameras for IPFW officers, said Kimbrough.

“The world has changed. If people can’t see it, it doesn’t exist-it just doesn’t,” Kimbrough said.

When Kimbrough requests things outside of budget, it’s up to the IPFW budget and planning director, Walter Soptelean, to request the needed funds. Soptelean reviews the budget and records the data so funds can be allocated to the requested expenses.

Soptelean said the budget is not a fixed number when it comes to safety and that both Wesse and Kimbrough review the previous year’s expenditure and request more funds as need be.

Things like squad cars need to be replaced every three to seven years, Kimbrough said.

“Every year it’s a new living document. What can we do to provide safety to the campus,” Soptelean said.

Wesse and the chief are also looking for a new location for the IPFW Police Department, somewhere more accessible, they said.

“People should really know, ‘where’s the police,’” Wesse said.

More information about the IPFW Police Department can be found at: https://www.ipfw.edu/offices/police/