Like his predecessor, Jennings County Assessor Randy Shepherd is being paid more than his base salary. Since taking office in January, Shepherd has been paid based on not only a $41,815 salary, but also wages based on an additional $15,000 in annual add-ons to the salary.
Those additions are part of the assessor's office budget, which was approved last year by the Jennings County Council.
That was one of the issues discussed by the Council on Tuesday when Shepherd brought it to the seven members' attention.
"I apologize for not consulting with you before," Shepherd said. "It was a rookie mistake."
"I'm mad because you came in here and did this without telling us first," said Councilor Dave Woodall (R-at large). "We all agreed for Linda (former Assessor Linda Kovacich) to get paid this other money because of her years of experience."
The extra annual wages for Shepherd involve $8,000 for personal property assessment duties and $7,000 for verification of sales disclosures. Monday, March 18, 2019
The Jennings County Sheriff's Office announced Monday that the investigation involving the escape of jail inmate Kimlynn D. Patton has ended, concluding that Patton procured a handcuff key apparently from a fellow inmate. An undermanned jail staff also was a factor, according to the investigation.
In the wake of the investigation, Sheriff Kenny Freeman has enacted several changes in procedures and policies for transporting jail inmates.
Patton, who escaped after jumping Corrections Transport Officer Justin Ponsler in Vernon on Friday, March 1, somehow got a key that enabled him to unlock and shed his handcuffs and ankle shackles during the transport from the Jennings County Jail to the Courthouse. He eluded capture for slightly over 24 hours, apprehended the next day in uptown North Vernon after a citizen reported seeing a suspicious person walking in the area.
"During the investigation it was determined that there were several factors that enabled Patton to escape," said Chief Deputy Dave Turner. "Old procedures from previous (sheriff) administrations will be replaced with new procedures and policies."
Baron W. Wilder has announced he is making his second bid for politics in the City of North Vernon. The former three-term mayor of Vernon is the Republican Party candidate for North Vernon City Council in District 3.
The Jennings County Sheriff's and Animal Control offices are investigating a case involving 12 dead dogs, nine of which were puppies, that were found dumped near Zenas.
"I just can't fathom how and why someone could do this when there are so many ways to find dogs homes, especially puppies," said Michelle Acton, senior animal control officer.
"This is a very disturbing case that we are taking very seriously, as we do every crime," said Chief Deputy Dave Turner of the Sheriff's Office. "We are continuing our investigation and we are hopeful we'll get help with tips from the community."
The dogs' bodies were found in a wooded area along County Road 740 East, south of County Road 1000 North, in Columbia Township in the Zenas Slab area. Sheriff's Office detectives and Animal Control officers went to the site on Tuesday, March 5, to investigate a report made by a citizen.
"The dogs were located by a concerned citizen driving through the area on Thursday, Feb. 28, during the afternoon hours," Turner said. "According to the citizen, he had driven through the area earlier in the day and did not see the deceased animals. When the citizen drove through later, he saw numerous deceased dogs a short distance from the roadway." Monday, March 11, 2019
North Vernon Police made a "substantial drug arrest" Saturday night involving two North Vernon resident suspected of dealing illegal drugs. According to Sgt. Andrew Richmond, the department's public information officer, police found heroin, methamphetamine and suboxone. Officers arrested Jarel Haines, 41, and Ezra Engle, 18, both of North Vernon.
Jennings County is moving closer to a partnership with Jackson County and the City of Seymour on a work-release program and facility.
On Thursday, Jennings County Commissioners voiced their support for the initiative that would include the construction of a $1.45 million facility in Seymour.
The Jennings County Council is also backing the project and will hold its second special meeting, what is being called a work session, at 6 p.m. Friday, March 8, to iron out more details of the plan that calls for the county to fund $145,000 annually.
The council and commissioners have yet to officially vote on approving funding for the project but they are clearly headed in that direction.
According to several officials, the work-release program will reduce the severe overcrowding now plaguing the Jennings County Jail and, with other programs, could negate the need to construct a new jail.
Officials estimate it costs the county around $60 per day to house an inmate at the jail. Up to 50 people who normally would be incarcerated in the jail could be in the work-release program at any one time, according to J.L. Brewer.
After Dan Wright was elected on Monday to a ninth two-year term as mayor of Vernon, a part-time job with a $2,400 salary, he says he plans to continue efforts to bolster the town's recreational and tourism appeal.
Early Saturday afternoon, Sgt. Mike Mowery spotted Kimlynn D. Patton, the escaped inmate who had been the subject of a manhunt for nearly 24 hours, walking in an alley between East O&M Avenue and Hoosier, Fifth and Fourth streets.
Acting on a tip from person who had seen Patton walking downtown, Mowery and Deputy Kyle Lee quickly arrived in separate patrol cars. Mowery then saw Patton from behind walking in the alley in the Uptown neighborhood, drove up behind him and got out of his car.
"He didn't even know Mike was there," said Sheriff Kenny Freeman. "Mike yelled out, 'Hey you!' and then ordered him to get on the ground and freeze. The suspect complied with every order."
Lee quickly arrived to assist Mowery with apprehending Patton, 40, of North Vernon. Then Deputy Cody Low and Reserve Deputy Tyler Boswell transported Patton back to the Jennings County Jail.
So ended a manhunt that began around 1 p.m. Friday when Patton got away from a correctional officer outside the Jennings County Courthouse in Vernon.
Ironically, Patton was ultimately apprehended next to the Fraternal Order of Police fitness gym located in the rear of the former North Vernon Street Department Building. Monday, March 4, 2019
The Jennings County Council approved several salary expenditures earlier this month, all unanimously though two of the councilors, both first-year members, expressed misgivings.
"This kind of sets a bad precedent because we're doing this outside of budget time," said Mike Gerth (R-District 1).
The Council approved the transfer of $19,000 in the sheriff's budget to supplement the pay of 16 deputies for this year; voted to raise the salary of Jennings County Soil and Water Conservation District Director Andy Ertel from $33,000 to $40,000; and allotted $32,000 for the new position of assistant maintenance director.
"Are we going to do this every year?" asked Charlie Weber (R-District 4).
Council President Howard Malcomb (R-at large) said the county cannot afford to fall behind more in its payscale for county employees.
"We are training people to be deputies (with the sheriff's office) who often end up going to other counties or city police departments where they offer more pay," Malcomb said. Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Raymond "Shawn" Gerkin is seeking his third term as the City of North Vernon clerk-treasurer, filing his candidacy for re-election on the Democratic ticket. He is currently finishing his second term in the position after first taking office in January of 2012.