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NEWS August 22, 2017

Working on the bypass
Working on the bypass
Crews with Dave O'Mara Contractor of North Vernon work along the U.S. 50 bypass near the former Hanson Aggregates Quarry, which can be seen in the background. The top layer of pavement remains to be laid and other work still has to be completed on the eastern section of the bypass, which the Indiana Department of Transportation says it expects to open to traffic in late September.-Staff Photo by Bryce Mayer

Community Building project OK'd
The Jennings County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to accept a bid from a North Vernon contractor to renovate, remodel and upgrade the Community Building at the Jennings County Fairgrounds.
Bradshaw Building Specialties had the lowest bid of only two offered for the project, coming in at $588,665. Harmon Construction, also of North Vernon, submitted a bid of $682,000.
The commissioners and project engineer Bernard Hauersperger discussed the possibility of reducing the project's costs to get it closer to the engineer's estimate of $500,000.
Hauersperger pointed out that he believed that could be possible by cutting back on several features in the project's plans. Among the possibilities would be eliminating exterior sidewalks, drainage improvements, sound panels, exterior lighting and a fire alarm and security system; installing single-phase electrical service for the HVAC system; and using some of the appliances in the Community Building's current kitchen area;.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Police: NV man uses meat cleaver in robbery
North Vernon Police arrested two people Sunday evening on multiple felony charges after a man allegedly threatened a family with a meat cleaver while demanding they hand over money.
Police jailed Joshua R. Collett, 26, and Kelby R. Leonard, 25, both of North Vernon after making a felony traffic stop on their vehicle.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Safety concerns lead to changes in schools' eclipse plans
Following the recommendations of two North Vernon optometrists, Jennings County Schools officials decided to enact special safety measures for solar eclipse day.
School was to be dismissed 30 minutes later than normal on Monday, Aug. 21. In addition, there was to be no participation in outside activities for students in elementary and middle schools after 1 p.m. that day.
"We have chosen to err on the side of caution," said Teresa Brown, Jennings County School Corp. superintendent. "This decision was based totally on safety. After talking with two local optometrists, we adjusted our plans. We have to make sure we keep things safe for kids."
That means only high school students in classes where the teachers have signed up to take them outside will be able to watch the eclipse outdoors with special eye protection, provided those students have signed permission slips from their parents or guardians.
Other students, including those elementary and middle schools, will be able to watch the eclipse on television and computer monitors.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Officials disagree on jail site
Anticipating a crowd larger than what the Jennings County Government Center in Vernon can accommodate, officials have moved an upcoming public meeting on the proposed new jail to a larger location.
Meanwhile, county officials defended the location of the proposed jail site in the face of criticism that it is too close to Sand Creek Elementary School.
The Tuesday, Aug. 22, session will be held at Jennings County High School's Pelkey Auditorium starting at 6:30 p.m. Doors will open at 5:30.
The meeting, a joint session of the Jennings County Board of Commissioners and the Jennings County Council, will be to discuss and then vote on whether or not to purchase the recommended real estate for the new county jail.
Public input will be welcome before the vote.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Officials disagree on jail site
As the Monday night session of the Jennings County School Board meeting began to wind down, talk turned towards the proposed building site of a new Jennings County Jail.
"I'm not in favor of that site," said Earl Taggart, school board member. "One reason is the possibility of an escape although I know that seldom happens."
Taggart is a former sheriff for this county and is retired after a career as an Indiana State Police officer.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Woman stabs trucker, holds off police for hour
A woman hitchhiker accused of stabbing a truck driver and then barricading herself in a semi outside Decatur Plastics surrendered after a one-hour standoff late Tuesday morning.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017

'Burn Area' Block Party
Burn baby burn, but in a good way. Live music, not fire and smoke, will fill the air downtown Saturday evening.
"The Burn Area" on Fifth Street will be awash with music for the Block Party Music Festival that will start at 5 p.m.
"We think it's a great spot for live music," said DeLynne "Hippie" Wilson of Hippie's Music and Events, who is organizing the event. "There is a grassy area that is perfect for people to gather to listen to the music. Fifth Street will be closed (between Buckeye Street and O&M Avenue), which will make it very nice."
Admission is free.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Commiskey man OK after Monday wreck
A Commiskey man miraculously escaped injury when the pickup truck he was driving went off the highway and wrapped around a utility pole late Monday.
Joseph D. Mikesell, 19, walked away from his 2001 Chevrolet Silverado after it was demolished in the wreck that occurred at around 10 p.m. Monday near Paris Crossing.
Mikesell was driving southbound on State Road 3 when his truck left the highway and hit a utility pole about a quarter mile north of State Road 250.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Rematch for state representative
There will be a rematch next May in the Republican Party primary involving Indiana House District 69.

State Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour), who is serving his third two-year term, will be challenged by Nancy Franke, also of Seymour, in the 2018 primary election.

The two squared off in the 2016 primary with Lucas taking 65.6 percent of the vote to Franke's 34.4 percent. The district includes most of Jennings County along with portions of Jackson, Jefferson and Bartholomew counties.

"We've got a great message," Lucas said. "People know I work hard and I'm not afraid to tackle the big controversial issues."

Franke is undeterred and says she will be better prepared this time.

"The last run, I just did not have the finances backing me up compared to my opponent," she said. "There just was not enough from the grassroots fundraising to cover the outrageous costs for mailings, billboards and the like."

Franke said her participation in the Richard G. Lugar Leadership Class of 2017 inspired her in part to run again.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Deputies stop man from choking woman
A Vernon man is in the Jennings County Jail facing a total of six felony charges after deputies had to physically stop him from allegedly choking a female using a cord around her neck. The man then fought with the deputies, biting one of them, before he was finally detained and arrested early Wednesday.

Monday, August 14, 2017

'Flopping' leads to 4 arrests
When a neighbor saw a man and a woman acting very strangely Thursday evening, the person called 9-1-1.

Monday, August 14, 2017

2 jailed after ginseng, whiskey still, coyote found
Indiana Department of Natural Resources conservation officers arrested two men in the Dupont area last week for illegally harvesting ginseng out of season and other offenses.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Schneck to host 'As We Begin to Age' program Thursday
Schneck Medical Center is hosting "As We Begin to Age: What You Need to Know Now" to address the legal and financial planning issues that may arise when we and our loved ones age.

Monday, August 14, 2017

What's next for city pool?
Some of the hottest days of summer are still potentially ahead and the North Vernon City Park Pool is already closed for the season.

And sometime in the future, the facility will be replaced with a new pool, according to tentative plans now being made by city officials.

Monday, Aug. 7, was the last day for swimming at the pool this year - not counting a special dog swim next Tuesday, Aug. 15.

Instead of the Labor Day holiday in early September, the traditional time for the last swimming weekend of the summer season, the pool in recent years has closed weeks earlier.

It is not a coincidence that the timing is linked to the beginning of the school year, which now is in early August in Jennings County. All the workers on the pool's staff are high school and college students.

"Due to school starting and losing most of our staff to fall sports, the pool's last day was Monday," said Chad Speer, director of the North Vernon Parks and Recreation Department.

Because of that, neither is it feasible to open the pool on the remaining four weekends of the traditional summer season.

Even though the pool does not generate enough revenue to be self sufficient, it remains relatively popular - especially at times of hot weather - and retains the support of the North Vernon City Council.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

School year starts 'quietly'
"A pretty quiet beginning" is how Teresa Brown, Jennings County School Corporation's new superintendent, described the first day of the 2017-18 school year on Tuesday.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Death threat leads to arrests
Alcohol reportedly fueled a North Vernon's man anger to the point that he allegedly brandished a knife and threatened to kill another man.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

2 hospitalized after SUV rolls
Two people were hospitalized and a 6-year-old girl escaped injury after a two-vehicle traffic accident early Wednesday in Sand Creek Township that left one of the vehicles upside down.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Family affair at Park Theatre
Saturday evening's concert at the Park Theatre Civic Centre will be a family affair for a Jennings County grandmother and her two grandchildren.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Change orders delay bypass
Construction continues at what officials call a good pace on the eastern leg of the U.S. 50 bypass, but unforeseen delays have pushed back the opening of the new highway until at least October.

"I don't have a completion date," said Harry Maginity, Indiana Depart­ment of Transportation's media relations director for the Seymour district. "October maybe."

Two major issues at the eastern terminus are causing the majority of the delays.

Last year, workers discovered contamination involving barrels of lead paint and other material buried under where the road surface was being laid. The Indiana Depart­ment of Environmental Manage­ment designated it a hazmat site requiring the excavation of tons of contaminated soil that is being transported to a special landfill in Michigan.

"We are just about finished with remediation," Maginity said.

"I will soon be contacting (nearby) residents with wells to schedule sampling of drinking water as a final precaution due to the buried debris and trash within the U.S. 50 construction area," he added.

The hazmat operation will cost around $1.5 million and will be paid through highway construction funds.

Also last year, INDOT changed the plans for the intersection where the new highway will merge back into the current U.S. 50 route. Instead of a three-way intersection as originally planned, a roundabout is being constructed.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Scipio man dies when vehicle crashes into tree
A Scipio man died in a one-vehicle accident on CR 575W/Scipio-Hayden Pike late Sunday.

Monday, August 7, 2017

2nd suspicious fire in 3 days
For the second time in three days, a suspicious fire broke out in Geneva Township on Thursday.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Another month of road work on south SR 7
The Indiana Depart­ment of Transportation reopened a portion of State Road 7 at Dupont on Wednesday, morning, Aug. 2, but immediately closed the north-south highway two miles to the north at the Jefferson-Jennings County line.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Jail fails another inspection
Not surprisingly, the Jennings County Jail failed another inspection last week. It was another scathing indictment of the facility's problems stemming from being severely overcrowded.

"We expected this," said Sheriff Gary Driver. "I hope the public takes notice. We simply have no choice but to follow the rules and regulations of the state and meet the needs of the inmates in our jail."

The overcrowding issues are nothing new at the jail. The problem is so bad that the county is now proceeding to construct a new and considerably larger jail. Just last week the jail committee announced a tentative location for the new facility.

Kenneth Whipker, the Indiana Department of Correction's executive liaison for sheriff and county jail operations, conducted the latest inspection of the current jail on Friday, July 28.

"The Jennings County Com­missioners are in noncompliance status and have failed to properly maintain the jail and provide the sheriff with a facility that meets the Indiana Jail Standards," he wrote in his report on July 31.

Whipker cited six specific areas where the jail is in noncompliance:

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Fire destroys Scipio home
Fire destroyed a house Tuesday morning in the Brown's Corner neighborhood of southwestern Geneva Township.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

NV man jailed after not-so-great escape
City police arrested a North Vernon man Tuesday after he allegedly cut off an ankle bracelet monitoring device.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

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