The Becky Buller Band is returning to North Vernon for the 14th annual Granville Johnson Bluegrass Festival on March 11. Tickets for the Park Theatre Civic Center event are on sale now at $20 at the Park Theatre box office.-Submitted Photo
Now, that moniker might be changing to "Solar City."
That's because the City of North Vernon is on the verge of throwing over fossil fuel-powered electricity and transitioning to solar power, a move that would make North Vernon the state's first "Solar City."
That step - and it would be a bold one - was discussed at length at the City Council meeting Monday night. Kurt Schneider, vice president/partner of the Indianapolis-based Johnson-Melloh Solutions, presented information his company has gathered here for the past year.
If that company sounds familiar, it should. Johnson-Mellow is the same firm that led the energy transformation at the Jennings County Public Library in 2014. Before the upgrade to solar, the library was spending as much as $4,500 a month in electric utility bills.
Today, after the installation of approximately 750 high-efficiency solar panels installed on its rooftop and a solar power tracking system at the main entrance, the library's most recent Duke Energy bill showed a credit for $97.85.
As reported previously in the Plain Dealer, library director Mary Hougland is an enthusiastic proponent of solar and the library itself has become somewhat of a tourist attraction, with visitors from around the country checking out the site.
Despite no curbside recycling collection program in the city of North Vernon and despite the inconvenience of having to transport recyclables to drop-off sites often fairly far away from their homes and businesses, people in Jennings County are "greener" than ever.
Because of the Presidents Day holiday, there will be no garbage pick up in the City of North Vernon on Monday, Feb. 20. The garbage collection route normally followed that day will instead be on Tuesday, Feb. 21. Tuesday's regular route will also be collected then.
Jennings County officials continue to wrangle with how to handle the severe overcrowding problem and other issues at the county jail during a wide-ranging discussion at last Thursday's meeting of the Board of Commissioners.
The only two apparently realistic options are to either expand the current jail or construct a new one, according to a feasibility study released three weeks ago. County commissioners seem to be leaning toward putting up a new jail.
"I don't see how we can add on to the old jail," said Commissioner Matt Sporleder (R-District 3). "It's not feasible to expand there, which is just my thinking. Nobody wants to build a new jail, but we're going to have to."
DLZ Indiana, the firm that conducted the study, recommended that the jail, whether a new one or remodeled and enlarged, have 324 rated beds compared to the current 104. It estimated the cost at $23 million to $41 million.
"If we build a jail with room for 300 or so, we will fill it," Sheriff Gary Driver predicted.
The jail has exceeded a population of 200 inmates several times in recent months, including last Thursday, putting it at risk of being slapped with a federal lawsuit where the county would be mandated to build a new jail, according to county officials.
Circuit Court Judge Jon Webster and Superior Court Judge Gary Smith offered their input on whether a new jail should include courtrooms or video arraignment capability. Either would likely save money in inmate transportation costs for the county.
"We tried video arraignments before under Sheriff Taggart and it was very awkward," Webster said. "I'd have no problem going to a jail courtroom for hearings. The courtroom there would be a simple setup. You'd only need recording equipment and enough room for the public." Monday, February 13, 2017
Barely two months after a financial advisory firm terminated its contract with the Jennings County Council, the governmental body is considering contracting with another private consultant.
The Council is expected to vote on whether or not to hire GFC, or Government Finance Consultants, at its next monthly meeting - on Tuesday, Feb. 14. That session will be at 7 p.m. in the Jennings County Government Center.
The vote is sure to be controversial since the Council received plenty of criticism over the fees charged by its previous financial advisory firm, the Reedy Financial Group of Seymour. The county paid Reedy over $525,000 since first contracting with the firm in 2012, including over $128,000 last year alone.
GFC, another Seymour firm, is offering its services to the county at a flat rate of $18,000 annually - except for special situations such as when bonds are issued.
When the Council hired Reedy five years ago, it said the firm would be paid hourly rates ranging from $50 to $155 with services not to exceed $31,000 per year.
Will there be "hidden costs," as critics called Reedy's charges, associated with GFC, too, if the Council hires it?
"He (Reuben Cummings of GFC) told us there will be no extra costs," said Howard Malcomb (R-at large), Council president. "He's told us that we can call him any time and we wouldn't be billed extra for those calls. But we're going to make sure before we vote."
The council just created a new in-house county government position that includes financial advisor trainer duties. Sherri Williams, the county's former deputy treasurer, began that job with a $36,000 salary on Jan. 1. Wednesday, February 8, 2017
The three Indiana state legislators who represent Jennings County will participate in the Third House public forum in North Vernon on Saturday, Feb. 11. The event will be at the Jennings County Public Library at 10 a.m.
The best spellers from eight schools in Jennings County gathered at Brush Creek Elementary School on Thursday, Feb. 2, to compete for the title of 2017 Jennings County Spelling Bee champion and the spelling was on.
After all the words had been given and spelled, Clay Persons had outlasted all the other 15 qualifiers and earned the crown. Taylor Boggs finished in the runner-up position.
Clay and Taylor both said that their families helped them as they prepared for the spelling bee. Taylor credited her brothers with giving her the practice words to spell. Clay said that his parents, Ricky and Amy Persons, of North Vernon, were the ones that helped him.
"I would have my parents say a word and then I would spell it best I could," Clay revealed. Monday, February 6, 2017
Indiana Department of Transportation officials have received a number of inquiries regarding upcoming bridge closures on State Road 7 in Lancaster Township of Jefferson County. These structures, which are located in Dupont over a tributary of Camp Creek and over Bear Creek just south of the Jennings County line, are scheduled for replacement later this year.
It took two doses of Narcan for a sheriff's deputy and a paramedic to revive an alleged heroin overdose victim in North Vernon early Wednesday, Jan. 25.
On Tuesday, Jan. 31, North Vernon police and Jennings County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) paramedics were called to Walmart where a male was reportedly unconcious in a restroom, allegedly because of an overdose.
Such incidents are all too common in Jennings County, according to Lt. Mike Mowery of the sheriff's department and Dave Gerth of EMS/Rescue 20.
"We have runs like this weekly, if not more often than that," Mowery said. "It seems to have slowed down slightly in the last six months, but the number of heroin overdose cases we get called out to is still steady."
"For us, we usually get calls to heroin overdoses two or three times a week, sometimes more," said Gerth, EMS director. "Overdoses often seem to be bunched together with two or three or four in a short period. We had three overdoses in one day on Wednesday."
Nearly one month into the 2017 session of the General Assembly, the two lawmakers who represent Jennings County in the Indiana House of Representatives are pleased with the progress being made at the Statehouse.
From April 16 to May 14, the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Butlerville will host the federal emergency response exercise "Guardian Response," which will simulate a national emergency incident in order to test the preparedness of federal emergency response teams.
State Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour), who represents most of Jennings County, is in hot water with some people after posting images that several consider offensive to women on his Facebook page last week and earlier.
The lawmaker, however, said he was merely trying to inject some humor via the popular social media site and not offend people.
Lucas removed the images last week and posted an apology on his Facebook page, but not before he became the brunt of heavy criticism.
"This is a perfect example of people taking something out of context and turning it into an organized plan of attack and personal destruction," Lucas told The Sun. "I'm shocked, to be frank, at all the attacks. How people can distort and misconstrue those memes (images) is sad."
One of the posts was of a woman being blasted with pepper spray with the words "Participation trophies, now in liquid form." Lucas added "Today's giggle" to the caption of the post.
Lucas said the post had nothing to do with the Jan. 21 Women's March or in denigrating women, but was merely humor. Monday, January 30, 2017