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October 16, 2019

Ready to learn
Ready to learn
Scipio Elementary School third graders Adelyn Eaton, left, and Cami Harmon are all smiles for the first day of the 2019-20 school year on Tuesday, Aug. 6. Judging by their faces, they were are happy to be back in school and ready to learn after the summer break.-Submitted Photo



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

Big Saturday is coming up in Butlerville
Firefighters in the Butlerville area are based in a brand new fire station that they will proudly be showing off to the public this Saturday, Oct. 12.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Verdict: Guilty of murder
A Jennings County jury of 11 men and one woman found Stephon Moore, 30, of Louis­ville, Ky., guilty of murdering Donavon Booker, 23, and of attempting to murder his best friend, Larry Evans, in the early evening hours of April 15, 2019.

It took the jury less than three hours to reach the unanimous verdicts and decide Moore was innocent of the attempted murder of Richard Evans, Larry's father, and innocent of stealing a firearm.

Family members visibly reacted in relief, with several shaking their fists downward in a "Yes!" gesture. As court adjoined, they hugged each other and greeted prosecutors with handshakes and hugs.

Several declined comment afterwards, but the victim's sister, Desiree Booker, said "We are happy with the verdict. I think Donovan would be happy."

Prosecutor Brian Belding admitted he was nervous as he waited for the jury to return, and noted he was both "relieved" and "not surprised" when he heard the verdict.

The two counts that Moore was found not guilty of did not surprise this attorney, as evidence was contradictory on the attempted shooting of Richard Evans and there was no evidence presented that indicated Moore knew the gun was stolen or that he actually stole the weapon.

Belding did the yeoman's job in this case, which started Monday, Sept. 23, with jury selection and ran Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and concluded Monday at 11:11 a.m.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

'Darlene would love it'
A large group of family, friends, school children and teachers gathered on a beautiful morning last week to dedicate a special shelter house in memory of a special person.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Volunteers needed for Saturday's river sweep, Day of Caring
Volunteers are needed to help in two events in Jennings County on Saturday, Oct. 5.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Burglars hit downtown store
North Vernon City Police are investigating the burglary of a downtown business that occurred early Wednes­­day, Oct. 2.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

County enacts burn ban
For the first time in nine years, Jennings County is under a burn ban.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

'Unbelievable' wreck in Butlerville
It looked like a scene at the aftermath of a tornado, debris strewn everywhere along a 300-foot long path of destruction.

A semi-truck went off U.S. 50 and plowed through two buildings in Butlerville at around 4:20 a.m. Thursday, totally destroying both structures. The buildings were still standing but with gaping holes lined up perfectly with each other.

The semi driver, Joshua H. Smith, 26, of Milan, somehow escaped serious injuries.

"This is by far the worst nonfatality accident I've ever seen," said Deputy Thomas Mellencamp of the Jennings County Sheriff's Office. "It is just unbelievable."

Until earlier this year, the buildings were the Campbell Township Volunteer Fire Depart­ment station and garage, and housed fire engines and trucks.

The fire department still owns the smaller building, the first one hit by the semi. The accident knocked out the fire department's radio repeater in that building. The truck narrowly missed the radio transmitter tower and an electrical utility pole next to that building as well as the tornado warning siren that was just installed less than two years ago.

After barreling through the smaller building, the semi then smashed through the adjacent building that had been the main Campbell Township's fire station until last January. That building was being used by the new owner, Joe Alcorn, as a garage. A pickup truck parked inside was destroyed, along with a couple of boats, a four-wheeler and other items.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Moore: Fear led to shooting
The jury in the Stephon Moore murder case began deliberations Monday morning, with closing arguments ringing in the ears of the jury who will decide whether the Louisville resident shot and killed Donavon Booker in cold blood or whether he shot the 23-year-old in self defense on April 15, 2019.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Countdown to North Vernon city election
Candidates in the City of North Vernon's 2019 election will take the stage at the Park Theatre Civic Centre at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 2.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Semi-truck crash causes big damage in Butlerville
A semi-truck plowed through two buildings in Butlerville at around 4:20 a.m. Thursday, destroying both structures. Until earlier this year, the buildings were the Campbell Township Volunteer Fire Department station and garage. The semi driver, Joshua H. Smith, 26, of Milan, was taken to St. Vincent Jennings Hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries. No one else was injured. More details in the next edition of The Sun.
Thursday, September 26, 2019


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