JCHS students Addyson Kent and Megan Schuler kept bundled up while showing their support for Karie Wilson outside the St. Mary's parish center polling location. Temperatures eventually warmed up in the low 50s, to the relief of the teens and other political stalwarts.-Staff Photo by Savannah Pickett
The Jennings County Board of Commissioners made it official on Thursday.
No action will be made on the proposed new county jail until after four new members of the Jennings County Council take office in January.
Whether or not a majority on the council decides to veto the jail project, which it could do by rescinding the special-use jail tax, remains an open question. The four newly-elected members of the council have told The Sun they want to study the matter closer.
"We are at the point that if we took one more step forward (on the jail), it would cost millions," said Matt Sporleder (R-District 3), president of the commissioners. "The new county council might choose to change things. We three commissioners don't want to roll the dice and take that chance."
Sporleder was referring to the new income tax the council adopted last month that will fund the jail project, where estimates range as high as $28 million.
Four new councilors on the seven-member council were elected last month - Mandy Creech (R-District 2), Bob Ellis (R-District 3), Michael Gerth (R-District 1) and Charlie Weber (R-District 4). Two who voted for the jail tax, Democrats Tony Eder (District 4) and Larry Maschino (District 2), were defeated. Another who voted for the tax, Republican Mike Kelley (District 1), did not run for re-election. Monday, November 12, 2018
Was it a red wave, a high caliber of local GOP candidates, the influence of President Trump or just good old-fashion hard work and campaigning?
It was probably a combination of all those factors, and who knows what else.
Whatever, the Jennings County Republican Party scored a stunning sweep Tuesday in the 2018 election, taking every single county government office.
The GOP's only loss in county boundaries came in the Center Township trustee race where Laurie Blackburn barely held off Hannah Bright by 1 percentage point.
"We are delighted," said Republican chair Jeanie Hahn among loud cheers and high-fives at the Willow Lake Event Center where GOP candidates and supporters gathered Tuesday night to watch the results. "We had great candidates with impressive qualifications and we all worked very, very hard. We advertised heavily, we walked door to door and made phone calls to talk to people and it resonated with the voters." Wednesday, November 7, 2018
Because of the Veterans Day holiday, there will be no garbage pick up in the City of North Vernon on Monday, Nov. 12. The garbage collection route normally followed that day will instead be on Tuesday, Nov. 13. Tuesday's regular route will also be collected then.
Emergency crews were involved in four water rescues over a 12-hour span in Jennings County late Thursday and early Friday.
Heavy rains flooded roads in several areas of the county, especially in the south and west. None of the motorists were injured.
At around 9:30 a.m. Thursday, the Vernon Fire Department Water Rescue Team and Indiana Conservation Officers plucked two men from their swamped vehicles on County Road 700 West in the Weston Bottoms area.
"I was following another car and a pickup truck," said William "Toby" Gilham after crews on an airboat transported him from his car to dry land at the intersection of CR 700W and CR 400S. "I thought since the truck was making it, I could, too. But the water kept getting deeper and deeper, then my car started sinking."
Gilham said his Buick LeSabre stalled in the water that was going over its hood and into the passenger compartment at around 7 a.m. He climbed up on the roof of the car and started yelling for help.
"I didn't have a cell phone with me, but I had an orange vest that I hoped somebody would see when they heard me yelling," he said.
A resident over half a mile away finally spotted and heard Gilham, and called 911. Monday, November 5, 2018
Voter interest is at what could be an all-time high for a midterm election in Jennings County.
Turnout is already setting records in absentee-in-person and absentee-by-mail voting, and officials predict that trend will continue on Election Day - Tuesday, Nov. 6.
"The number of people voting absentee is big," said Jeanie Hahn, Jennings County Republican Party chair. "Many Republicans are voting absentee in person, and it looks like Democrats are, too. Turnout here will certainly be better than 2014 (the last midterm election year) and might even rival 2016."
What is driving the voters to cast ballots?
Obviously, there are many appealing races on the ballot, both statewide and locally. In Jennings County, an issue that has fired up voters is the proposed new county jail.
"People are furious," Hahn said. "Nobody wants the stupid jail. They want to fix the jail we have now."
"The jail is a major issue for everyone in Jennings County," opined Jack Gay, Democratic chair. "The current commissioners have hired consultants to guide us through the process of dealing with jail overcrowding. Those consultants have a vested interest in building a jail. It should come as no surprise that they recommend building a jail that will disable our ability to deal with the other issues that our county faces."
That issue is playing into the races for District 3 county commissioner, sheriff and county council seats. Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Plans for the proposed new Jennings County Jail are on hold, at least for now, according to Matt Sporleder (R-District 3), president of the Jennings County Board of Commissioners and chairman of the jail committee.
"Randy Frye (a member of the Indiana House of Representatives from District 67) has been telling us of legislation in the works that would create regional holding facilities around the state for low-level felons," Sporleder said. "That is something we have to consider before we decide whether or not to go ahead with the jail. Until then, the jail is on hold."
The county has yet to act on an offer from the City of North Vernon to purchase a 12-acre tract of land on the city's north side. The city says it will sell the property, on County Road 350 North near Fourth Street/CR 75W and the U.S. 50/SR 750 bypass, to the county for $60,000. As part of the package, the city will contribute $100,000 annually toward the operations of the new jail until the bond is paid off that will finance the facility's construction. Whether or not the city will continue this "donation" after that will be negotiated at that time, according to Brian Hatfield, North Vernon City Council president. Monday, October 29, 2018
The second straw poll of the 2018 election campaign by the Plain Dealer & Sun took a decided Republican Party turn - though not a total one.
GOP candidates lead in seven of the regional and county races on the PD&S straw poll ballot while Democrats hold the edge in three of the contests.
While the Republicans dominate in the state and regional races at the top of the ticket, they are neck-and-neck with Democrats in most of the county races.
In fact, four of the races are dead heats according to the poll, indicating that Jennings County might be in for many tight contests on Election Day, Nov. 6.
Four incumbents are deadlocked in their races for Jennings County offices, the poll results show: Democratic Sheriff Gary Driver, Republican District 3 Commissioner Matt Sporleder, Democratic District 2 Councilor Larry Maschino and Democratic District 4 Councilor Tony Eder.
State representatives Jim Lucas and Randy Frye, both Republican incumbents, enjoy hefty advantages in their races in districts 69 and 67, respectively, among Jennings County voters polled. The GOP's U.S. Senate candidate, Mike Braun, and Congressional hopeful Greg Pence also have big edges in the latest straw poll. Wednesday, October 24, 2018
For many in the Jennings County area, it was a tough weekend because of heavy winds that pounded the region throughout the day on Saturday. Many were without electrical service, some for as long as 24 hours.
The glow in the sky above the Zenas area the last few nights has several sources.
Part of the light comes from the many vehicles going to and from the Wes and Melody Boyd farm.
The most appealing part of the glow emanates from literally hundreds of carved pumpkins - jack-o'-lanterns designed in numerous fascinating styles - gloriously illuminated and on display for the viewing pleasure of the many spectators who make the happy trek to see the dazzling Halloween exposition.