The Jennings County Community Foundation last week contributed $2,000 to the Jennings County Coordinating Council's Christmas Basket fund. Community Foundation Director Joanie Van Horn, center, is flanked by Coordinating Council director Bee Murphy, left, and volunteer Freda Smith. "This donation is huge for this project and is pushing us closer to what we need, but we still have a ways to go," says Murphy. Contributions can be hand delivered or mailed to the Coordinating Council office, 203 Hoosier St., telephone 812-346-5183.-Submitted Photo
A Jennings County School Corp. employee died in a two-vehicle accident involving a school bus and a truck early Wednesday at the Highway 3 and 7 junction on the south side of Vernon.
The deceased is Mary Boyd, 74, an assistant on the JCSC School Bus No. C138 driven by Bob Ringer, 72. Ringer was not injured, according to authorities.
There were no children on the bus at the time of the accident, around 6:35 a.m. The bus is one used to transport special needs children to Sand Creek Elementary School.
The bus was only a few miles from picking up its first student of the route when the accident occurred.
The bus collided with a truck at the junction of northbound Highway 3 and Highway 7. The truck, belonging to Dave O'Mara Contractor of North Vernon and driven by Harry "Tom" Palmer Jr., 48, collided with the front passenger side of the bus. Palmer was not injured. Wednesday, December 4, 2019
While he faces a formidable obstacle in Gov. Eric Holcomb, State Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour) is pressing forward with his mission to legalize marijuana in Indiana.
Lucas failed last year with a bill he authored that would have approved the sale and use of marijuana for medical purposes in the state.
In the upcoming session of the state legislature, Lucas plans to put forward two measures related to marijuana.
The four-term lawmaker whose district includes North Vernon and the western half of Jennings County may be a conservative on most issues, but not when it comes to marijuana.
"Absolutely," Lucas answered when asked by The Sun if he plans to continue advocating for the legalization of cannabis during the Indiana General Assembly's 2020 session.
The next session, which starts Monday, Jan. 6, and is scheduled to end March 11, is the so-called "short session," in contrast to the "long session" held every other year. In 2020, legislators are limited to five bills they can introduce. Two of Lucas' proposals will involve marijuana, he told The Sun.
"I will reintroduce my bill to legalize medical cannabis and I will also have a bill that reduces the penalty to a Class B misdemeanor for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana," he said. Monday, December 2, 2019
A state task force is uncovering data that State Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg) believes will greatly help lawmakers craft solutions to relieve overcrowding in many of Indiana's county jails, including Jennings County's.
"We are dealing with severe issues here," Frye said. "We are compiling very important information that I think will help us come up with legislation to address the issues."
The County Jail Overcrowding Task Force was formed as part of Enrolled Act 1065, a bill authored by Frye that passed during the 2019 legislative session and was signed into law by Eric Holcomb earlier this year. The law was born out of his discussions with Jennings County officials about the serious overcrowding at its jail, according to Frye, who represents part of Jennings.
The law allows county sheriffs to transfer inmates convicted of low-level felonies to state-operated regional holding facilities in order to reduce overcrowding in county jails.
"The state created the problem," Frye said, referring to a 2016 law requiring convicted Level 6 felons to be incarcerated in county jails instead of state prisons. "The state should fix it."
The task force, which began its work in July, has met three times to investigate the problems. More than any other, one detail it uncovered surprised Frye and other task force members. Wednesday, November 27, 2019
Broadband internet service is coming soon to large areas of western Jennings County currently unserved.
Gov. Eric J. Holcomb announced Thursday that Indiana's Next Level Broadband program has awarded an additional $6.3 million in funding to bring the first round total to $28.4 million for 14 broadband expansion infrastructure projects across the state, including one with the Jackson County Rural Electric Membership Corporation (REMC), which serves nearly 7,000 members in Jennings County.
"This grant gives our project quite a boost," said Kaylee Bennett of Jackson County REMC. "We're very happy to get the grant." Jackson County REMC's grant amount is nearly $1.3 million with a local match of nearly $4 million for a total project cost of nearly $5.2 million.
Jackson County REMC's not-for-profit high-speed broadband internet division, Jackson Connect, is making a broadband internet connection, up to 1 gigabits per second (Gbps), available to all 20,000 members in its service territory.
"We plan to open in stages, starting with subzones," Bennett explained. "Work on installing our main line is actually ahead of schedule, but it will take longer to hang the fiber optic lines (to households and businesses that order the service.)"
The first zone for connecting members to the service is Reddington where work will begin Monday, Dec. 2. That zone includes western Spencer Township in Jennings County.
Other zones are Hayden, which includes eastern Spencer Township and western Center Township; and Geneva, which includes parts of Geneva and Center townships.
Bennett estimates that the final stage will be complete by fall 2021. Monday, November 25, 2019
When the Jennings County Sheriff's Office Special Response Team and Narcotics Team went to search a North Vernon home late Tuesday, they found a large amount of suspected fentanyl, a highly dangerous narcotic according to Maj. Dave Turner.
Except when holidays are involved, the Jennings County Recycling Center is open five days a week. That includes Saturdays. Sunday and Tuesday are the only days of the week that the center, located at 4800 N. Highway 3, is closed.
A sea of red engulfed the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis Tuesday. An estimated 20,000 teachers from throughout the state, including over 80 from Jennings County, were there for the Red for Ed Action Day, lobbying for more funding, wages and resources for public education. Many others, including parents and students, were there, too.
The Indiana State Teachers Association scheduled the event to coincide with the Indiana General Assembly's annual Organization Day when members of both the Senate and House make plans for the legislative session that starts on Monday, Jan. 6.
"It was a really positive day," said Molly Jones, president of the Jennings County Classroom Teachers Association (JCCTA) and a Jennings County High School teacher. "We hope ultimately that this will make a difference."
During the day, Jones and other JCCTA members along with Jennings County School Board President Pat Sullivan, who is a retired Hayden Elementary School teacher, met with State Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour) and others to discuss pressing issues in education.
"I talked to as many teachers as I could," said Lucas, whose 69th District includes most of Jennings County and who sits on the House Education Committee. "We had some disagreements, but all in all it went well."
State Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg) of District 67 and who represents the eastern half of Jennings County, also talked with numerous teachers. Wednesday, November 20, 2019
The Jennings County Sheriff's Office is proposing adding a 56-bed modular addition behind the current jail.
The addition, which Sheriff Kenny Freeman and Jail Commander Jason Bliton call a "pod" design, has an estimated cost of $2.7 million and would be used to house female inmates.
"Our first step is to get a GEO study done (site analysis)," Bliton told the Jennings County Council last Tuesday. "We have to make sure the ground behind the jail is suitable for putting up a pod."
The study, which will involve the analysis of core samples drilled at the site, will cost $3,700. The council unanimously agreed to reimburse the sheriff's office for that cost, which will initially be covered by the jail's commissary fund.
When Jennings County Sheriff's deputies and an Indiana State Police trooper showed up at a Spencer Township residence to arrest a man wanted in both Jennings and Jackson counties on multiple felony charges, the suspect fled on foot into nearby woods.
Contractors will be trimming trees around electrical transmission power lines in Jennings County and other areas of southern and central Indiana using a helicopter saw beginning Monday, Nov. 18, through mid-December.