Crews with Dave O'Mara Contractor of North Vernon work along the U.S. 50 bypass near the former Hanson Aggregates Quarry, which can be seen in the background. The top layer of pavement remains to be laid and other work still has to be completed on the eastern section of the bypass, which the Indiana Department of Transportation says it expects to open to traffic in late September.-Staff Photo by Bryce Mayer
After a three-month search, the Jennings County Jail Committee has found property for the proposed new jail.
A verbal sales agreement between the county and the property owners is contingent on two factors: approval by the Jennings County Council and the real estate appraisal coming in at no more than the offered price.
The property, located north of NVIC, is a 42-acre tract at 4665 N. CR 75W owned by Richard L. and Verna Martin of Indianapolis.
"It's not my 100 percent best pick," said Jennings County Commissioner Matt Sporleder (R-District 3), also a jail committee member, "but it's the only one we've been able to find that I believe will appraise out."
"It's a little far out but I think it's workable," said Sheriff Gary Driver, another committee member. "It's in the right price range and it backs up to county property (the fairgrounds)."
A joint meeting of the county commissioners and council will be held Tuesday, Aug. 22, to discuss the proposed sale.
"We have got to make sure everyone is on board with this," Sporleder said.
"We need the full support of the Council and the commissioners," added Councilor Dave Woodall (R-at large), who is also on the jail committee. "Our committee is just the advisory group that is doing the research so the county does this the right way. But we know we won't be able to please everybody."
Sporleder, Driver and Woodall would not divulge how much the county is offering the Martins, saying he did not want to derail the proposed deal. Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Construction plans for the first five years of a new 20-year program to improve Indiana's roads and bridges will include $4.9 million in projects in Jennings County.
The state's Next Level Roads initiative, announced last week by Gov. Eric Holcomb, calls for 24 lane miles to be resurfaced and four bridges to be rehabilitated or replaced on highways in the county from 2018 through 2022.
"This funding was made available thanks to a responsible and comprehensive plan passed by the legislature this session," said State Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour), who represents North Vernon and most of Jennings County. "These local improvements will help keep Hoosiers safe as they travel on our roadways, while also helping to secure Indiana's position as the Crossroads of America."
State Rep. Randy Frye, who represents eastern and northern portions of Jennings County, was equally effusive.
"It is great to see that more than $200 million is being invested in local road and bridge improvements in our area," Frye said. "Over the next five years, we will be resurfacing crumbling roads, installing traffic signals and rehabilitating bridges. This local funding ensures that our communities are included in our effort to take our state to the 'next level' while making Hoosier safety a priority."
Holcomb and Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) Commissioner Joe McGuinness detailed the construction plans, which total $4.7 billion, that were formulated after the General Assembly advanced legislation this session that provides funding for a long-term, sustainable, data-driven infrastructure plan. Monday, July 24, 2017
The Jennings County School Board has released the scheduled meetings they have planned for the upcoming week.
The schedule has been altered as the board begins the process of selecting one of three candidates to fill the seat left vacant by Susan Taylor. Taylor resigned from the board on June 30 so she could accept a position as a Jennings County High School guidance counselor. Taylor's seat requires the board member to reside in Center Township.
Three people will be interviewed for the position. Zack Campbell, Amanda "Mandy" Creech and Amy Pettit all submitted applications to be considered to fill the remaining time of Taylor's term.
On Monday, July 24, the board will begin the night by meeting in executive session at 5 p.m. Starting at 5:30 p.m., the board will interview each of the three candidates during a public meeting.
The regular meeting of the board will begin a half-hour later than normal to allow for plenty of time to interview the prospective board members. This meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m.
On Wednesday, July 26, the school board will have a special meeting to appoint the new board member. This meeting will get underway at 6:30 p.m.
All the meetings will be held in the Jennings County School Corporation's Central Administration Office located at 34 Main St., North Vernon.
The application process for applying to be considered for the vacant set on the school board included submitting your views on a number of different areas.
Below are the answers provided by the three candidates to those questions. Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Sweet corn and juicy tomatoes have been available at the Jennings County Farmers' Market for a couple of weeks, though in limited amounts. Shoppers snap up the produce quickly, leaving latecomers to the morning market out of luck.
Three Center Township residents have applied to be considered for one of the District 4 seats currently vacant on the Jennings County School Board.
The candidates are Zack Campbell, Mandy Creech and Amy Pettit.
Teresa Brown, Jennings County Schools Corp. superintendent, explained three individuals had applied to fill the seat left vacant when Susan Taylor resigned from the board last month to accept a position as a Jennings County High School guidance counselor.
Taylor's resignation was effective June 30 and Indiana statute requires the board fill that vacant seat within 30 days. All applications were due by last Friday, July 14.
"I need to talk to the president of the board (Steve Elmore) about how we will be handling the interview process," Brown noted. "Ideally, we would have the candidates come in for interviews before the school board's next regular meeting on Monday, July 24. Monday, July 17, 2017
North Vernon's time in the sun is fast approaching, with terms of the loan to finalize its transition to solar now finalized.
"It's one big step," summed up Clerk-Treasurer Shawn Gerkin.
According to Gerkin, the city will borrow $5.399 million from MainSource Bank at a 2.45 percent interest rate to convert all of its facilities to solar power. The first re-payment of the loan will be due about a year-and-a-half later when construction is completed. Interest will continue to accrue during the construction phase.
The City Council authorized Mayor Mike Ochs to execute the documents last month, and they were signed Thursday, July 6.
Johnson-Melloh Solutions is the company that brought the bold idea to the Council in February. The company is the firm that led the energy transformation at the Jennings County Public Library in 2014 and is known nationally for its expertise in sun-powered energy. Wednesday, July 12, 2017
"It sounded like a bomb went off," said James Toepfert.
Toepfert and his wife, Ginger Helmburg, were in their apartment at 23 W. Poplar St. watching a movie when an explosion rocked their living quarters late Thursday.
The explosion occurred when Jonathon N. White, 27, allegedly lit a fire in the apartment next door to Toepfert and Helmburg's after dousing the interior with gasoline, according to police.
White is now in the Jennings County Jail facing a preliminary charge of arson, a Level 4 felony, and probation violation. As of Monday morning, he is still being held in lieu of a $2,055 cash bond.
Toepfert and Helmburg were not injured and their apartment sustained no damage during the explosion and fire, but they were shaken.
"I thought a vehicle had smashed into the apartment building," Toepfert said. "Our whole apartment shook. I ran outside and saw flames, smoke and broken glass. The force of the explosion went through the side window, thank goodness, and not through the wall between our apartment and theirs. We were very lucky."
It may not be quite in the same league as the annual Nathan's Famous July Fourth Hot Dog Eating Contest on the Coney Island boardwalk, but the Jennings County Fair's Hot Dog Eating Contest is still a whole lot of fun.