JCHS students Addyson Kent and Megan Schuler kept bundled up while showing their support for Karie Wilson outside the St. Mary's parish center polling location. Temperatures eventually warmed up in the low 50s, to the relief of the teens and other political stalwarts.-Staff Photo by Savannah Pickett
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."
The Indiana Department of Education has released 2018 ISTEP+ results and notes that performance remained stable across content areas in grades 3-8, with slight increases in grade 8 English/ Language Arts and grade 3 Mathematics.
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." Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Gov. Eric Holcomb said he enjoyed visiting Jennings County again, where he last visited in August for the grand opening of the Muscatatuck Cyber Academy at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Butlerville.
The Jennings County Board of Commissioners made it official on Thursday.
No action will be made on the proposed new county jail until after four new members of the Jennings County Council take office in January.
Whether or not a majority on the council decides to veto the jail project, which it could do by rescinding the special-use jail tax, remains an open question. The four newly-elected members of the council have told The Sun they want to study the matter closer.
"We are at the point that if we took one more step forward (on the jail), it would cost millions," said Matt Sporleder (R-District 3), president of the commissioners. "The new county council might choose to change things. We three commissioners don't want to roll the dice and take that chance."
Sporleder was referring to the new income tax the council adopted last month that will fund the jail project, where estimates range as high as $28 million.
Four new councilors on the seven-member council were elected last month - Mandy Creech (R-District 2), Bob Ellis (R-District 3), Michael Gerth (R-District 1) and Charlie Weber (R-District 4). Two who voted for the jail tax, Democrats Tony Eder (District 4) and Larry Maschino (District 2), were defeated. Another who voted for the tax, Republican Mike Kelley (District 1), did not run for re-election. Monday, November 12, 2018
Was it a red wave, a high caliber of local GOP candidates, the influence of President Trump or just good old-fashion hard work and campaigning?
It was probably a combination of all those factors, and who knows what else.
Whatever, the Jennings County Republican Party scored a stunning sweep Tuesday in the 2018 election, taking every single county government office.
The GOP's only loss in county boundaries came in the Center Township trustee race where Laurie Blackburn barely held off Hannah Bright by 1 percentage point.
"We are delighted," said Republican chair Jeanie Hahn among loud cheers and high-fives at the Willow Lake Event Center where GOP candidates and supporters gathered Tuesday night to watch the results. "We had great candidates with impressive qualifications and we all worked very, very hard. We advertised heavily, we walked door to door and made phone calls to talk to people and it resonated with the voters." Wednesday, November 7, 2018
Because of the Veterans Day holiday, there will be no garbage pick up in the City of North Vernon on Monday, Nov. 12. The garbage collection route normally followed that day will instead be on Tuesday, Nov. 13. Tuesday's regular route will also be collected then.
Emergency crews were involved in four water rescues over a 12-hour span in Jennings County late Thursday and early Friday.
Heavy rains flooded roads in several areas of the county, especially in the south and west. None of the motorists were injured.
At around 9:30 a.m. Thursday, the Vernon Fire Department Water Rescue Team and Indiana Conservation Officers plucked two men from their swamped vehicles on County Road 700 West in the Weston Bottoms area.
"I was following another car and a pickup truck," said William "Toby" Gilham after crews on an airboat transported him from his car to dry land at the intersection of CR 700W and CR 400S. "I thought since the truck was making it, I could, too. But the water kept getting deeper and deeper, then my car started sinking."
Gilham said his Buick LeSabre stalled in the water that was going over its hood and into the passenger compartment at around 7 a.m. He climbed up on the roof of the car and started yelling for help.
"I didn't have a cell phone with me, but I had an orange vest that I hoped somebody would see when they heard me yelling," he said.
A resident over half a mile away finally spotted and heard Gilham, and called 911. Monday, November 5, 2018
Voter interest is at what could be an all-time high for a midterm election in Jennings County.
Turnout is already setting records in absentee-in-person and absentee-by-mail voting, and officials predict that trend will continue on Election Day - Tuesday, Nov. 6.
"The number of people voting absentee is big," said Jeanie Hahn, Jennings County Republican Party chair. "Many Republicans are voting absentee in person, and it looks like Democrats are, too. Turnout here will certainly be better than 2014 (the last midterm election year) and might even rival 2016."
What is driving the voters to cast ballots?
Obviously, there are many appealing races on the ballot, both statewide and locally. In Jennings County, an issue that has fired up voters is the proposed new county jail.
"People are furious," Hahn said. "Nobody wants the stupid jail. They want to fix the jail we have now."
"The jail is a major issue for everyone in Jennings County," opined Jack Gay, Democratic chair. "The current commissioners have hired consultants to guide us through the process of dealing with jail overcrowding. Those consultants have a vested interest in building a jail. It should come as no surprise that they recommend building a jail that will disable our ability to deal with the other issues that our county faces."
That issue is playing into the races for District 3 county commissioner, sheriff and county council seats. Wednesday, October 31, 2018