Joining Gov. Eric Holcomb for the Community Crossings grant presentation are State Rep. Jim Lucas, from left, Jennings County Commissioner Dave Lane, Vernon Mayor Dan Wright, Holcomb, County Commissioner Matt Sporleder, State Rep. Randy Frey and North Vernon Mayor Mike Ochs.—Staff Photo by Bryce Mayer
The governor came to Vernon to dole out money, a lot of money.
Gov. Eric Holcomb, Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Joe McGuinness and others were at the Jennings County Government Center on Thursday, Nov. 8, to award oversized checks to counties, cities and towns in the area that represent state-matching funds for local road projects through the Next Level Roads: Community Crossings Initiative.
"This is a great program where the state government partners with the local level on long-range planning and important infrastructure maintenance," Holcomb said. "We don't have it perfected yet, but we're close and it is now sustainable in large part because of the leadership in this room."
Jennings County government received $320,760 for road and bridge work. To qualify, it has to match 25 percent of the funding and also had to submit an INDOT-approved asset management plan.
"Small counties and communities are not getting the short end of the stick anymore," said State Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg), who pushed through a change to the program two years ago where the local match for small-size counties, such as Jennings, was reduced from 50 to 25 percent. "I'm glad we were able to do that."
Many people in Jennings County are without electricity after freezing rain late Wednesday and early Thursday caused widespread outages. Duke Energy reports 2,700 customers in Jennings County are without electric service as of 6:30 a.m. "We have lots of trees and other vegetation that are down and impacting electric service," said Chip Orben, government and community relations manager with Duke. "We have a transmission line that has locked out impacting the North Vernon area. Our assessment crews are assessing the damage at this time and we do not have an estimated restoration time at this time. Our crews are working as quickly and safely as possible to restore power. Duke customers who are out should call 1-800-343-3525." Around 1,844 Southeastern Indiana REMC members in Jennings County are out of electricity as of 11 a.m. Deceatur County REMC outages in Jennings County are at 268 at the same time. An estimated 3,100 Jackson County REMC members are without power. The counties with the largest number of outages are Jennings, Jackson, Scott and Washington. Jackson County REMC has all available crews and contracted crews out working to restore power as safely and quickly as possible. Visit its website, jacksonremc.com, or its Facebook page, Jackson County REMC, for more information. "We will continue to update our Facebook page with the most recent information," said an REMC spokesperson. "Remember to stay away and NEVER touch a downed powerline. Also, tree limbs are still breaking and will continue to do so until the ice melts. Please stay safe and stay out from under any large trees or limbs. "Any Jackson County REMC customer who is out of service and has not reported their outage is encouraged to report their outage either on our SmartHub app, or by calling the office at 812-358-4458."
County assessor-elect Randy Shepherd, from left, his wife, Kitty Shepherd, current county treasurer, and county auditor-elect Tessia Salsman have reason to celebrate at the Republican gathering place, Willow Lake Event Center, on Election Night.