First Responders here were honored at the Bicentennial Gala in downtown North Vernon on Sept. 16. Representatives from the county's fire deparatments were honored on stage and also presented free meal tickets to enjoy barbeque from Uncle Charley's Catering. Above, North Vernon Fire Chief Mike Cole and his wife, Jamie, and youngest son, Kyran, 3, stand in line with Assistant Chief Rick McGill to pick up a meal. -Staff Photo Barb King
A work detail of 10 inmates from the Jennings County Jail labored for around six hours at St. Annes Golf Course in North Vernon Tuesday.
The inmates weren't shackled like prisoners on chain gangs as depicted in the classic movie "Cool Hand Luke,' but all worked under the watchful eyes of Sheriff Gary Driver and others on his staff.
It was the first day of an inmate work program Driver promised when he successfully ran for sheriff two years ago.
"We're just starting and this is a pilot program, but I see no reason why we can't make it a permanent program," Driver said. "I've been repeatedly told that we can't do a program like this because of insurance liability, but they do it in other counties."
Driver investigated, found that no extra liability issues would be involved and conferred with other county sheriff's departments.
The sheriff decided to start the program when he got a request from St. Annes superintendent Robin Brown for an inmate crew to assist with the aeration of the city-owned public golf course's 18 greens, a labor-intensive operation.
"This is a no-brainer for us," Driver said. "I'm trying to save the taxpayers money. We can do that by putting inmates to work at public properties." Wednesday, September 28, 2016
The Jennings County School Board has been busy interviewing candidates who would like to be the next Jennings County School Corp. (JCSC) superintendent. This week and next, potential superintendents who have requested it will be meeting with business leaders and touring the schools.
Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz will hold a town hall meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 26, in North Vernon. The hour-long event will take place in the Commons area next to the cafeteria at Jennings County High School. Admission is free and the public is welcome.
After months of rumors circulating that a new industry is coming to North Vernon, the announcement came Tuesday.
Midway Products Group Inc. announced plans to construct a 200,000-square foot building on a 72-acre tract on SR 3 on the city's north side, creating up to 150 new jobs by 2018. The facility will house multiple metal stamping presses and weld and assembly equipment to manufacture stamped components and assemblies for the automotive industry.
"This is going to be a significant investment in our community," said Kathy Ertel, Jennings County Economic Development Commission (EDC) executive director. "We are very excited to welcome Midway Products Group to North Vernon and Jennings County. They are a solid, topnotch company that will bring great jobs here."
A privately held company founded in 1956, Midway Products Group has headquarters in Monroe, Mich. It is a tier 1 automotive manufacturing supplier, or a direct supplier to original equipment manufacturers, which in this case includes Ford, General Motors and Toyota.
"This is exactly what we need," said North Vernon Mayor Mike Ochs. "We haven't had any new industries move here in quite a while, and this is a big step in the right direction. Give credit to the EDC. Their people worked extremely hard, going above and beyond, to get Midway Products to locate here." Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Jennings County High School students have spent the week dressing as their favorite Disney character and competing in fun games during their lunch period as they try to help raise points for their grade.
Trains, bicycles, automobiles, fire engines and feet.
Those were the conveyances used by 20 different torchbearers Friday to carry the Indiana Bicentennial Torch through Jennings County.
Hot and humid conditions gave way to a short thunderstorm and then rain during the Torch Relay here, but it didn't dampen the enthusiasm of either the torch bearers or the crowds that watched.
"This is unbelievably cool," said Brian Hatfield, a North Vernon City Councilor who was among hundreds who greeted the torch at Stellar Plaza. "I am very impressed."
It was not only with pomp and circumstance that the Bicentennial Torch made its way through Jennings County, but also with loud cheers and applause.
At Paris, Chuck Waggoner started the parade in Jennings County. The North Vernon attorney carried the torch in a restored 1947 Crosley truck driven by Richard Apsley, a special mount for the torch on the truck.
Then the torch was passed to Don Biehle, Campbell Township fire chief, who transported it on a fire engine for 3.5 miles to Biehle Corner where Larry Greathouse hoisted it onto a special bicycle for two miles.
From there, the torch went to Ralph Cooley, Helen Fox, Jeff O'Connor (representing his late father, Pat O'Connor) and then, after a short ceremony in Vernon, Dan Wright, the town's mayor. Monday, September 19, 2016
Former North Vernon Police Department officer Brandy Blevins faces felony charges for misconduct and forgery after being arrested Monday afternoon by Indiana State Police detectives.
The preliminary charges against Blevins are official misconduct and forgery, both Level 6 felony counts, and theft, a Class A misdemeanor, all related to alleged actions by her when she was a police officer.
As a result of a lengthy investigation, a warrant was issued Monday by the Jennings County Circuit Court for Blevins' arrest. She was taken into custody without incident and booked into the Jennings County Jail at 2:19 p.m. Shortly thereafter, she was released on a $1,055 cash bond.
Blevins, an 18-year NVPD employee, resigned last February after allegations of misconduct surfaced and the subsequent investigation by the state police.
Last December, the city's Board of Public Safety disciplined Blevins for a then undisclosed violation of internal policy. She was demoted from detective, a position she held for two years, to patrolman.
Then in late February, city police department employees discovered some evidence that did not appear to be properly stored and other items, which appeared to have been tampered with, during a standard internal audit of the NVPD's evidence room. The property room was sealed after employees reported the discrepancies to supervisors, according to NVPD Chief James Webster.
"An allegation of misconduct within the restricted-access property (evidence) room is of the highest concern to the department," Webster said. "A request for a full state police investigation was made that very day." Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Persons wanting to bid, or possibly negotiate, to provide bus transportation for Jennings County School Corp. (JCSC) students will be waiting at least another three weeks before specifications are available for them to submit their proposals for the routes.
The attractions at the Commiskey Fall Festival have changed over the years, but there has always been one constant: fun.
The 50th annual event this weekend promises to be packed with more fun with some old traditions and new twists.
"Our volunteers have been working hard and we're expecting another good festival," said A.J. Deen, one of the festival's coordinators. "We have some new events that we think will be very entertaining and a lot of our traditional events that have always been popular." Wednesday, September 14, 2016