A workman got a jump on sowing grass seed late last week at Tripton Park, taking advantage of the clear weather. The seed was a combination of grasses, a spokesman said, to increase the chances of germination and survival. Notice the new tree in the center of the picture. A number of trees and pines have now been planted, with many more yet to be planted.-Staff Photo by Barbara King
While all seven members of the Jennings County Council say they are against the proposed new county jail, they voted 4-3 last week on a motion to rescind the controversial jail tax.
Yet clearly, the Council is headed in that direction.
"I said at our last meeting work session (on June 26) that I was going to bring this up for a vote at our next meeting," said Dave Woodall (R-at large) who was joined by Mandy Creech (R-District 2) and Bob Ellis (R-District 3) in the minority. "If we're not going to build the jail, we don't need the tax."
The four who voted to keep the special income tax for now -Paul Belding (R-at large), Howard Malcomb (R-at large), Mike Gerth (R-District 1) and Charlie Weber (R-District 4) - say they did so because there is no need to do so before Aug. 31 at the earliest, the deadline to make a rescission effective on Oct. 1. The deadline to make a rescission effective Jan. 1 is Oct. 31.
"We need more information on what it will cost to refurbish the current jail, which we will get that in plenty of time," Weber said. "Plus this wasn't on the agenda. I believe something of this importance should be known to the public before we vote on it. We want to do this correctly."
Gerth cited state law, claiming that the council could not have rescinded the tax at the Tuesday, July 9, meeting anyway.
"In order to enact or rescind a tax, public notice must be given before the meeting is held," he said. "The Council did not give notice and did not even put on the agenda that we would discuss the jail tax at our July 9 meeting. That made any vote on the jail tax that night null and void." Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Since its founding in 1994, the Jennings County Community Foundation has come a long way. From an initial collection of $67 from five individuals, the Foundation's assets now total $6,418,00 and climbing.
Jennings County area farmers are getting some help from the government as they struggle with getting crops planted after a what may be the wettest spring and early summer on record here.
On Friday, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced that the state is requesting a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretarial disaster designation for 88 counties, including Jennings, due to losses caused by flooding and excessive rain this planting season. The designation would allow emergency low-interest loans to be made available to farmers.
Also last week, several Indiana lawmakers helped secure the extension of the USDA crop reporting deadline to July 22.
"This is welcome news from Gov. Holcomb and the USDA," said Brad Ponsler of North Vernon, Indiana Farm Bureau regional manager for Jennings, Jefferson, Ripley, Switzerland, Dearborn and Ohio counties. "This year's planting season has been one of the most challenging for all farmers across the state, not just Jennings County."
The state is requesting a USDA Secretarial disaster designation for Jennings County and 87 other counties due to losses caused by flooding and excessive rain this planting season.
"Heavy and persistent rainfall has saturated fields across the state, hurting Indiana crops and our farmers," Holcomb said in a news release. "As I continue to monitor this situation, Hoosier farmers can rest assured that we will keep a close eye on the long-term effects of these relentless rains."
Ponsler says farmers need all the assistance they can get.
"This year has been very stressful for area farmers with the various decisions that needed to be made during planting season," he noted. "With the tight farm economy and this spring's challenges with rain, farmers have had a lot on their minds. Monday, July 15, 2019
Jennings County Sheriff Office deputies arrested five people on drug charges after finding around 90 grams of methamphetamine, four firearms, $2,200 in cash and drug paraphernalia at a Columbia Township residence last week.
Jennings County High School, in partnership with the Jennings County Historical Society, has been awarded a $4,500 grant through the Smithsonian Institution's Museum on Main Street Stories: Youth Engagement and Skill-Building (YES) program.
Jennings County officials are keeping mum on the status of Nolan Stanley, who was dismissed last month as Veterans Service Officer.
The Board of County Commissioners met in an executive session last Wednesday, July 3, on a matter dealing with a personnel issue. According to several anonymous sources, this involved Stanley.
"I cannot talk about what we discussed," said Matt Sporleder, president of the commissioners, adding that he is following the advice of acting county attorney Chris Doran.
According to credible anonymous sources, the commissioners offered Stanley his job back provided he met certain conditions. One of those conditions reportedly is that Stanley submit to and pass a drug test before he is reinstated.
Whether or not Stanley will agree to those terms is unknown. He did not return phone calls or text and email messages sent to him by the Plain Dealer before press time.
In the meantime, services to the county's veterans are being covered, according to Sporleder and Nicci Lucas, the Jennings County human resources officer.
"There has been no lapse in service," Sporleder said. "Nicci is coordinating with veterans service officers in neighboring counties who are providing coverage for our veterans."
U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) on Tuesday introduced legislation that aims to deliver more life-saving organs to patients by establishing clear, accountable metrics for organ procurement organizations (OPOs). Currently, the 58 OPOs in the United States maintain control over the organ procurement process, but questions surround the effectiveness, transparency and accountability of these organizations, according to Young.
The Wayside Inn Homeless Shelter is temporarily closed until Thursday, July 18, its board of directors has announced.
The shelter, located at 304 Hoosier St., closed on Friday, July 5.
"This is to allow volunteers and several local organizations to do much needed cleaning and repairs to the facility and to conduct software and policy training for volunteers," explained Steve Graham, vice president of Wayside's board. "We will be painting, building new shelving to store clean clothes, bed linens, towels and food supplies, as well as organizing donated clothing for issue to new residents."
In addition, a water line is being installed to support a new fire suppression system - a sprinkler system - on both the first and second floors.
"The old line the building was connected to before was not big enough to provide enough pressure for the sprinkler system," said Tom Long, the homeless shelter's manager. "That line came under the street and would have been expensive to replace. We were able to connect to another main on our side of the street, which saved us a bunch of money." Monday, July 8, 2019
Eleven urban search-and-rescue teams from the United States, Canada and Australia converged on the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Butlerville last month to participate in one of the largest tactical training exercises of its type.
U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho) introduced the Investing in Main Street Act last week that they say will increase investment in small businesses by permitting banks to invest up to 15 percent of their capital in Small Business Investment Companies (SBIC).
The jail tax question is posing quite a quandary for the Jennings County Council.
The council spent nearly two hours during a work session Wednesday, June 26, discussing the issue without coming to a resolution.
The debate is over whether to completely eliminate the special income tax, scale back the tax rate or keep it as it is currently.
"I say we cut the tax rate back to one-third or one-fourth of what it is now," said Howard Malcomb (R-at large), council president. "We can always adjust the rate every year. But if we eliminate it, we'll have to start all over."
The County Council last October enacted the jail tax, a special income tax, after the Indiana General Assembly passed a bill in March 2018 to allow the county to consider it. Gov. Eric Holcomb then signed the legislation into law.
The jail tax took effect on Jan. 1 at a rate of .65 percent of gross adjusted income and is expected to generate $3.2 million this year.
The jail tax revenue is designed to fund a proposed new county jail, which proponents say is needed because of severe overcrowding at the current jail. The controversial project, with an estimated cost of $28 million, has been put on hold since last November.
The jail tax revenue can only go toward a new jail, according to terms of the state law. However, if the jail tax is eliminated any funds collected would go to the county's Rainy Day Fund. From there, the money could be used for anything related to county government.
"Any discussion is premature until we decide what we are going to do," said Charlie Weber (R-District 4), referring to whether the county is going to construct a new jail or not. Wednesday, July 3, 2019
There will be no garbage or brush pick up in the City of North Vernon on Thursday, July 4. The garbage collection route normally followed that day will instead be on Friday, July 5. Thursday's regular route will also be collected then.
Opting for "generational diversity," the Jennings County School Board has unanimously elected 29-year-old Chelsea Morrison to fill in the District 1 seat left vacant by the recent resignation of Warren Lucas.