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
Two Jennings County High School students and one North Vernon Elementary School student face preliminary charges of intimidation, a Level 5 felony, following a series of three school threats over a six-day period.
In a related incident, around 25 JCHS students staged a protest on Tuesday about security at the school. Nine of those students were cited for truancy after leaving school without permission from staff or their parents, according to North Vernon police.
Police do not believe the threats were coordinated, said Sgt. Andrew Richmond.
"There is no evidence that any of these events had prior planning or preparation," he said. "The North Vernon Police Department is aware of certain allegations stating that 'hit lists' and videos depicting animal cruelty were discovered related to one of the events. At this time, no evidence has been discovered nor provided to support these claims."
Two of the incidents were on Tuesday, Sept. 10, according to North Vernon School Resource Officer Matt Staples. A North Vernon Elementary School sixth grader allegedly made a vague broad threat to the school body on a social media site that referenced prior school shootings. The student was arrested and removed from the school.
On the same day a JCHS ninth grader made a specific threat to two other students while in a classroom, police said. The student was arrested and removed from the school.
Then on Monday, Sept. 16, a JCHS 11th grader allegedly announced a vague broad threat overheard by other students at school. The student was arrested and removed from the school. Wednesday, September 18, 2019
The City of North Vernon is now offering a $500 reward for anyone who comes forward with information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for vandalism at the North Vernon City Park earlier this month.
The dangers of vaping have caught the attention of America in recent days, including calls from the White House and others to take flavored e-cigarettes off the market.
The alarm has grown in the last few weeks with six confirmed deaths nationally linked to lung ailments caused by vaping and the rise in teens smoking e-cigarettes.
Earlier this month, Jennings County Tobacco Prevention Coordinator Diana Daeger and two respiratory therapists and specialists from Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, Jamie Parker and Jalen Brown, made presentations to Jennings County Middle School students warning of the dangers of vaping.
"They did a phenomenal job of talking to our students about vaping," said Jeanie Koelmel, JCMS principal. "Jennings County students are no different than any other students. Vaping is becoming the new and very dangerous fad among our teenager population. The difference is how we approach letting our teenagers know the seriousness of their choices.
"We want our students to make the right choices. Therefore, JCMS and Diana Daeger joined forces with Schneck in an attempt to take a stance against poor choices," she added.
Daeger has done presentations about the dangers of vaping and tobacco use to students before, but this was the first time she did so with the two experts from Schneck. Monday, September 16, 2019
A special meeting of the Jennings County Area Plan Commission Monday, Sept. 16, will look at proposed changes in zoning and other areas involving that regulatory agency being recommended by a special subcommittee.
"Our subcommittee reviewed everything from zoning ordinances to processes and protocols," said Tyler Stock, an APC board member who chairs the subcommittee. "We are going to recommend changes to make the APC more effective, improve efficiency and update procedures so they are better suited for today's world."
Monday's meeting, which is open to the public, will begin at 6 p.m. at the conference room in the Jennings County Government Center, 200 E. Brown St., Vernon.
The APC board will review the recommendations at the meeting but will not vote on any of them, according to Stock. None of the proposals can be enacted without approval from the APC, the City of North Vernon, the Town of Vernon and the Board of County Commissioners.
Stock anticipates none of the recommendations will be controversial.
"I won't be too specific until we roll out our recommendations Monday," he said. "There are easement issues, for example, that can cause big headaches down the road, which we have addressed. There are enforcement issues which seem like no-brainers, but if there is not a law on the book the APC office can't enforce them. Wednesday, September 11, 2019
The Muscatatuck Urban Training Center (MUTC) will be a busy place next week. It won't be soldiers training at the Indiana National Guard facility's Butlerville site, as is often the case. Instead, civilians from the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) will be involved.
Thanks to a $100,000 donation from Donald Miller, acting as trustee of the Dr. Frank Miller estate, and the Hoosier BMW Motorcycle Club, a new restroom will soon be constructed at the Muscatatuck Park.
Ironically, legal red tape that has delayed the opening of a splash pad at the park paved the way for the new restroom, a true silver lining behind a gray cloud.
"Getting the new bathrooms will be worth the wait on getting the splash pad open," said Greg Martin, director of the Jennings County Parks and Recreation Department (JCPR).
The new restroom building will be constructed on the south side of the splash pad and playground area in the park. Bradshaw Building Specialties is the contractor with work expected to begin this month.
The total project has an estimated price tag of $126,000, including installing water and sewer connections.
The Miller-BMW donation is being facilitated through a Jennings County Community Foundation grant.
"We are happy to be part of this," said Barb Shaw, Community Foundation director. "It's very exciting to see people step up like this. The new splash pad and restrooms will add another great attraction to the Muscatatuck Park." Monday, September 9, 2019
The polling location has been changed for the North Vernon 1A and North Vernon 1B precincts in the 2019 city election. Voters in these precincts will vote on Tuesday, Nov. 5, at the Grateful Grubb Event Hall, 412 S. Madison Ave. (This was previously the Veterans of Foreign War Hall).
The good news is that the Jennings County Jail received favorable ratings on its recent annual inspection in all areas except two categories.
The bad news is the jail's inmate population remains above its rated capacity.
Sheriff Kenny Freeman says the addition of 24 bed spaces earlier this summer has greatly relieved the jail's overcrowding, the main issue that led to a now tabled proposal to consruct a new jail facility.
"We currently have bed space for 154 inmates," said Freeman, who is in his first year as sheriff. "The number now counted by the state is 124, but this will change once I submit a letter of request with the details of the changes to the areas where the new beds are located."
On the day of the inspection, which was conducted by Kenneth J. Whipker of the Indiana Department of Correction on July 26, the jail population was 158.
Eight triple-tiered bunk beds were added to the jail in July. In addition, six beds for inmate trustees that previously were not counted will be included in the jail's official capacity.
The other category where the jail fell short in the inspection was in the shower-to-inmate ratio. The state requires one shower for 12 inmates.
The public is welcome to join Dr. Eric Tannenbaum, M.D., board certified orthopedic surgeon from the Columbus Regional Health Joint and Spine Center, as he discusses the latest research on shoulder joint pain management, surgery and getting the best outcomes for returning to an active lifestyle.
Officers from five different law enforcement agencies teamed up on Wednesday evening, Aug. 29, in a countywide enforcement sweep that resulted in 28 arrests.
Officers from the North Vernon Police Department and Jennings County Sheriff's Office aided Jennings County Circuit Court and Superior Court probation officers and Indiana State Parole officers with compliance checks and conducted saturation patrols in high crime areas.
Charges for arrested persons ranged from possession of methamphetamine, possession of syringes, possession of marijuana, active warrants served and compliance violations for both probation and parole.
"These sweeps allow the departments to pool their resources and perform functions no one department could do on their own," said North Vernon Police Chief James Webster. "They also strengthen the working relationships between the departments. The results speak for themselves. A great amount of planning goes into bringing the elements together to have a successful operation like this one." Friday, August 30, 2019