Eric Meahl and Kevin O'Mara were busy installing 21 new street lights in downtown North Vernon earlier this month as part of the city's conversion to more efficient lighting. The lights are steel and weigh about 150 pounds, which is much heavier than the former three-bulb decorative lights installed under Mayor John Hall a decade or so ago. Although the former lights could have been converted to the more efficient LED bulbs, it was decided to go with brand new fixtures which are the same fixtures as those used in Carmel. The old lights were put in storage and will be donated to various fundraisers/auctions for non-profits in years to come, said Mayor Mike Ochs.-Staff Photo by Barbara King
Boxes are being packed and moving will get underway once the 2017-18 school year ends in Jennings County next week as several administrative changes are on the horizon for the Jennings County School Corp.
Starting with the Jennings County Middle School, Jeanie Koelmel requested the school board approve her transferring from the Special Programs Director position to the principal role at JCMS.
Mike Green will be transferring from the Jennings County High School assistant principal position to the JCMS assistant principal position. Green will be replacing Stephanie Eaton who is moving to Hayden Elementary School as an academic coach.
Two assistant principals were hired for JCHS for 2018-19 following the move by Green and the promotion of Dustin Roller to the school's principal. Stephanie Ebbing was hired on a 215-day contract at $74,000 a year and Taryn Kent will exit as a classroom teacher to become an assistant principal at $71,000 a year with a 215-day contract.
Nick Hill will leave the JCMS principal spot to become the new principal at the North Vernon Elementary School. Current NVE principal Nicole Johnson will move to the principal's job at Scipio Elementary School following the retirement of current principal Donna Eaton at the end of this school year. Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Members of the Knights of Columbus St. Bernard Council No. 1631 from St. Mary's and St. Ann Catholic churches will conduct their annual Tootsie Roll Drive on Friday, May 18, and Saturday, May 19 in the North Vernon area.
The Jennings County Council agreed to increase funding for Campbell Township Volunteer Fire Department's planned new fire station, but by less than 50 percent of what the firefighters requested.
The Council voted 4-0 Thursday to add $50,000 for the project from Local Income Tax revenue, well below the $107,222 firefighters say they need to proceed with constructing the firehouse. Three councilors were not present at the special meeting.
"The money to build the new jail has to come from the same fund," said Councilor Howard Malcomb (R-at large), referring to the public safety fund that comes from LIT revenue. "If the six other fire departments in the county come to us asking for money for new firehouses, too, how can we find it?"
Campbell Township VFD Chief Don Biehle and Assistant Chief Alex Murphy said the council should not expect a rush of fire station funding pleas.
"It took us over 10 years of planning to get where we are today," Biehle said. "The only other fire department that has started preliminary planning for a new firehouse is Vernon." Monday, May 14, 2018
A North Vernon man led police on a short car chase, unsuccessfully tried to throw away a bag allegedly containing a half a gram of heroin during a traffic stop late Tuesday and then further resisted arrest, according to police.
One incumbent was defeated while another survived to advance to the next election round.
Tuesday's Democratic and Republican party primary elections in Jennings County had few contested races locally and several more regionally and statewide, but they were big ones.
Sandy Vance took a huge step toward returning to public office after knocking off incumbent Janice Ramey to take the Democratic race for recorder. Vance triumphed by 136 votes, a margin of over 11 percent, in this face-off between two candidates who have been highly popular with voters over the years.
"I knew it would be a tough race that could have gone either way," Vance said. "It was a lot of work. Now I get to start all over again."
Vance will now take on Mary Kilgore in the general election for recorder. A Republican, Kilgore is currently in the final year of her second term as clerk.
Ramey was philosophical and praised Vance.
"It was a good, clean race and I congratulate Sandy," Ramey said. "She worked her tail off campaigning. I'm supporting her 100 percent in November."
Ramey had won five straight county elections - two for clerk, two for auditor and one for recorder - until Tuesday. Her only previous loss was to Ruth Ann Horstman for treasurer in 1996.
"I've had 20 years in public office and did my best to serve the people," Ramey said. "I thank everyone who supported me and worked for me. Now I'm going to retire at the end of my term." Wednesday, May 9, 2018
Another new cellular telephone tower is going up in Jennings County, this one on County Road 150 East near CR 650N near Brewersville in eastern Sand Creek Township.
"This means my cellphone will finally work at my house all the time," said Jennings County Commissioner Matt Sporleder (R-District 3) before the Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the rezoning request of the land from agricultural to institutional as recommended earlier by the Area Plan Commission.
Sporleder then added, with tongue firmly in cheek: "We need to pass this fast!"
The tower, to be owned by Verizon Telecom, will go on land owned by Tom Clarkson. It will be 193 feet tall and will be a freestanding structure.
"Because of the location's proximity to the (North Vernon Municipal) airport, the tower requires approval from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration)," said Elizabeth Bentz Williams, a certified planner and land use consultant with the Clark, Quinn, Moses, Scott & Grahn LLP law firm in Indianapolis representing Verizon. "That approval is pending and we expect no problem there." Monday, May 7, 2018
The Republicans have a heated battle for the U.S. Senate nomination and two-man races for their commissioner and sheriff nominees.
The Democrats, meanwhile, will have to choose between two extremely popular candidates for recorder.
Tuesday's primary elections in Jennings County will have many uncontested races for both parties, but there are enough contests to drive up voter interest, according to GOP and Democratic officials.
"The number of absentee voters is above average for a primary," said Jeanie Hahn, the county's Republican Party chair. "I wouldn't be surprised at all to see an above-average voter turnout, either."
"I anticipate a substantial turnout for the primary," said Rita Hurley, Democratic Party vice chair. "The weather looks good and I get the feeling that people are more interested and involved in the midterm elections."
Two-term incumbent Third District Commissioner Matt Sporleder is being challenged by Jeff Burton in the GOP primary. The winner will take on Nick Megel, the lone Democratic candidate, in the fall.
"I think Matt has done a very good job as commissioner and in being available to the people, and he has his finger on the pulse of the county" Hahn said. "Jeff seems very interested in the people of the county, too."
The Republican contest for sheriff features Kenny Freeman and Joe Massie. Freeman is touting his experience as a former correctional officer and former commander of the defunct Patriot Academy at MUTC. Massie ran for sheriff as an independent four years ago and garnered 5 percent of the vote. Whoever prevails will go up against Gary Driver, the incumbent Democrat, in November. Wednesday, May 2, 2018
A newly formed grief support group for the North Vernon area meets at the Our Hospice of Jennings County office every Thursday from 2 to 3:30 p.m. The office is located at 245 Norris Ave., North Vernon.
When looking at the food service departments at Jennings County's schools and other schools across Indiana, the one item that stands out is they are all self-funded.
Food service departments must raise enough money to pay for the food they provide students in a school corporation. While some students pay for their meals, others who qualify because their families meet the income guidlines get their food for free or at discounted rates as part of the free and reduced-price school meals and milk programs.
The programs were created to support students unable to pay the full price for meals or milk served under the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, and Special Milk.
Sometimes - actually most of the time, at least in Jennings County - food service is running in a negative balance. The problem is the U.S. Department of Agriculture does not allow the money they provide to schools to be used to pay any negative balances and that leaves schools scrambling to come up with the money.
Locally, high school and middle school students are allowed to charge only up to $10 in lunches. After that they are not allowed to charge a meal.
At the elementary level in Jennings County, students are allowed to charge an unlimited amount for lunch. Monday, April 30, 2018