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October 23, 2019

Spreading the word
Spreading the word
From the tip of her head to the tip of her toes, Bonnie Hall likes to wear as much pink as possible during the month of October which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Now a seven-year survivor of this disease, Hall started putting pink in her white hair and donning that iconic color to help spread the word about the importance of early detection about four years ago. Way to go!-Staff Photo by Barbara King

Expanding the court system
moved a step closer to reality last week.

The Indiana House of Representatives' Interim Study Committee on Courts and the Judiciary recommended Thurs­day, Oct. 17, that the General Assembly vote to allow Jen­nings County to hire an additional magistrate.

If supported by state lawmakers next session, this additional magistrate would jointly serve the county's circuit and superior courts.

"Our courts in Jennings County are seeing more and more cases each year," said State Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg), who represents the eastern part of the county and is on the interim committee. "An additional magistrate would help alleviate the additional caseload judges and staff are experiencing."

Unlike judges who are elected, magistrates are hired to preside over minor civil and criminal cases, and conduct preliminary hearings. Magistrates can also assist in expediting cases through the judicial process, freeing up valuable resources and helping reduce jail populations.

"Thank you to the members of the interim committee for recognizing this dire need and supporting the addition of a new magistrate," Frye said. "During the upcoming legislative session, I will work with my fellow lawmakers to pass a bill to create this position for our community."

State Sen. Chip Perfect (R-Lawrenceburg) and State Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour), whose districts include all or part of Jennings County, have also voiced support for the magistrate.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Jack-o'-lanterns by the hundreds
Aladdin's magic lamp will be glowing brightly over the next week-and-a-half in the Zenas area. So will hundreds upon hundreds of jack-o'-lanterns in a dazzling display of masterfully carved pumpkins.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Cyber batallion at MUTC
Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Tuesday that the country's fifth Nat­ional Guard cyber battalion will be located in Indiana - at the Mus­catatuck Urban Training Center in Butlerville.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Health Expo is Saturday
Free and low-cost health screenings, discounted lab work and a plethora of health and fitness vendors will be offering information and free goodies in North Vernon on Saturday, Oct. 28. There will also be door prizes galore.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Foundation boosts JCMS music programs
Thanks to a $2,423 grant from the Jennings County Community Foundation, the Jennings County Middle School's band and orchestra programs are getting a much needed boost.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

APC to look into proposed zoning, other changes
There will be more discussion on proposed changes to Jennings County's zoning regulations when the Area Plan Commission meets in special session this week.

Monday, October 21, 2019

City stresses water conservation

Although heavy rains fell in the Jennings County area Monday with more precipitation forecast for Tuesday, mandatory water conservation remains in effect in the City of North Vernon.

First announced on Aug. 20, the mandatory steps were enacted because of prolonged drought conditions and the unexpected partial draining of Brush Creek Reservoir that month. The Butlerville lake is the city's backup source of water.

Last week, the city issued a reminder to water customers served by North Vernon to continue to adhere to the conservation requirements.

"Water levels in the Muscatatuck River are still awfully low and Brush Creek Reservoir is at the same level it was in August," said Will Spencer, North Vernon water superintendent. "Nothing has changed since we first enacted the mandatory water conservation requirements."

There have been spotty rains in recent weeks, including more early this week, but not enough to make much of a difference in water levels of the river and reservoir. Drought conditions persist, not just in Jennings County but throughout the southern Indiana region.

"What we really need is rain north of us, in the Greensburg area, because that is what drains into the river and brings up our water levels," Spencer said.

North Vernon is also unable to utilize the new water reservoir at the former Hanson Aggregates quarry off Fifth Street. A slurry dam is being constructed to reduce the amount of hard water that leaches into the reservoir. That has yet to be completed and the water tested to ensure its hardness level is low enough to not affect city and residential water pipes.

"That is still a work in progress," Spencer noted.


Monday, October 21, 2019

Harvest time is here, so be aware
Despite planting season delays putting farmers behind schedule, harvest season is now underway across much of the state - including in the Jennings County area. That means more slow-moving farm equipment will be on Indiana roads.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Deputies arrest NV woman after finding fentantyl
Police arrested a North Vernon woman Wednesday night on multiple felony charges after finding fentanyl, methamphetamine and other drugs in her vehicle.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Young leads letter defending Indiana jobs
U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) led a letter signed by members of Indiana's Congressional delegation to President Trump and Vice President Pence this week expressing concern with efforts to block production of bioengineered salmon, an action that would negatively impact the state of Indiana and the future of biotechnology.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Street work nears completion
It's been a long time coming, so long that patience is starting to run thin for motorists who have been waiting for five months for Buckeye Street to reopen.

"I don't have an exact date yet, but it ought to be wrapped up in a couple more weeks," said Brad Bender, operation manager at FPBH, the North Vernon firm overseeing the project.

Milestone Construc­tion of Columbus is the contractor on the $1.7 million project, which involves a complete reconstruction of the street - including storm sewers under the roadway.

In fact, the storm sewer issue was the primary reason for the project in the first place. During every heavy rain, water would back up to a depth of two or more feet on Buckeye Street - a veritable flash flood situation - and then slowly subside after the rain stopped. Even semi-trucks would have to wait before going through. Along with the inadequate storm sewer system under the street, this is a low area on the former U.S. 50 route. The official highway route was moved to the bypass in late 2017.

Workers replaced the original storm sewer pipe under Buckeye Street that was 18 inches wide with 36- and 48-inch pipe.

The project, which originally had an estimated completion date of Sept. 15, has been beset with unforeseen delays literally from the first day the work began in early May.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Police arrest 2 for auto theft
North Vernon Police were busy Tuesday night, making three felony arrests, two of which were a pair of Michigan men allegedly involved in the theft of a vehicle.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Fair Board seeks new blood
The fun enjoyed by so many people at the annual Jennings County Fair does not come by accident. It takes much planning and effort by the fair board to make it all happen - and not just during fair week.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Sweet Street moving to Stellar Plaza area
Sweet Street, the annual alternative Halloween event that brings thousand of children and their families to downtown North Vernon, is moving.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Sweet Street moving to Stellar Plaza area
Sweet Street, the annual alternative Halloween event that brings thousand of children and their families to downtown North Vernon, is moving.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

County commissioners lift burn ban in Jennings
The Jennings County Board of Commissioners on Sunday lifted the county's burn ban.

Monday, October 14, 2019

'We want the jail tax gone'

While the Jennings County Council voted unanimously last week to rescind the jail tax, it's not legal yet.

The council will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 30, where its members are expected to again vote unanimously to eliminate the special income tax.

When the council voted last Tuesday, its members did not realize that any change to the jail tax had to be done after a public hearing that had been advertised in the local newspaper of record, per state law.

That will obviously be a mere formality as members of the council have no intention of changing their previous vote on the controversial tax.

"This process has been a shabby one, but in the end I think we will get it right," said Councilor Charlie Weber (R-District 4). "With so many of us going through our first year (on the council), we are learning a lot and have made some mistakes along the way. I know that excuse is coming to a very quick end, and it should. But we are the wiser for them."

The jail tax, with a rate of .65 percent of gross adjusted income for all county residents, has been in effect since Jan. 1. Provided the council votes, as expected, to abolish the tax before a Nov. 1 deadline, it will end on Dec. 31.

By the time the tax is formally abolished, $3.1 million in revenue will have been generated. That money will then be transferred to the county's rainy day fund as required by state law.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Christmas Food Basket signups to start
The Jennings County Coordinating Council has announced the registration schedule for its 2019 Christmas Food Basket and Toy Program.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Community Crossings road funds awarded to area communities
Gov. Eric J. Holcomb and Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Joe McGuinness on Thursday announced 229 Indiana cities, towns, and counties received a combined $99.2 million in state matching funds for local road projects through the Next Level Roads: Community Crossings Initiative.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Jail tax rescinded
With little fanfare, the Jennings County Council on Tuesday rescinded the controversial jail tax.

It was no surprise whatsoever that the vote was unanimous. All seven councilors - Mike Gerth (R-District 1), Mandy Creech (R-District 2), Bob Ellis (R-District 3), Charlie Weber (R-District 4), Howard Malcomb (R-at large), Paul Belding (R-at large) and Dave Woodall (R-at large) - have been voicing their desire for months to abolish the special income tax.

"Obviously we are not going to build a new jail," said Malcomb, the council president, before the vote. "We have a work-release program starting next year (in partnership with Jackson County and the City of Seymour) and there is a new state program that will take the Level 6 felons. Plus, more beds have been added to our jail."

Jennings County's jail tax - which has a rate of .65 percent of gross adjusted income for all county residents - has been in effect since Jan. 1. The tax will go off the books on Dec. 31, by which time $3.1 million in revenue will have been generated. That money will then be transferred to the county's Rainy Day Fund as is required by state law.

"We want to keep that amount locked in the Rainy Day Fund until we approve how that money is to be used," Creech said, making that part of the motion she made to rescind the jail tax.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

County pledges $101K toward proposed trail
The Jennings County Council on Tuesday committed to a $101,000 pledge as part of the matching fund necessary for the Town of Vernon's application for a Next Level Trail grant (see related stories on page 4A).

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Preparing for disaster
A recent tabletop disaster exercise keyed on a mock derailment of a freight train in Jennings County carrying hazardous chemicals. Other possible emergency situations were included in the day-long exercise coordinated by the county's Emergency Management Agency (EMA).

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Vandals strike 3 NV businesses
Police are investigating multiple acts of vandalism that occurred late Tuesday or early Wednesday in uptown and downtown North Vernon.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Scottsburg couple killed in SR 3 wreck
Two people, a man and woman both from Scottsburg, died in a single-vehicle accident early Tuesday on State Highway 3 near Lovett when the vehicle's driver reportedly swerved to avoid hitting a deer.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

City candidates in agreement
Candidates voiced praise for the "greening" of North Vernon with several calling for even more environmental friendly initiatives, including making curbside recycling the next big push.

The 2019 North Vernon Political Forum at the Park Theatre Civic Centre on Wednesday featured 10 of the candidates running in next month's city election. It was a congenial event with candidates agreeing on the issues they discussed.

Incumbents, including Mayor Mike Ochs, talked about the progress made during their terms, noting the solar energy initiative and the development of the new Tripton Park as proof.

"We are now a solar city, as far as I know the first in the state," said Ochs, a Republican running for re-election against Democratic challenger Colleen Malone. "Every city building in North Vernon is powered by solar energy, and that's a big savings to the taxpayer. Once the bond (that funded the solar conversion) is paid for, the city will never have to pay for energy again. We earned a clean climate award from the state for our solar project, which really is a big deal."

Ochs called North Vernon "a going town" and cited his administration's efforts in accelerating progress.

Monday, October 7, 2019

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