A fire that broke out late this morning in a Jasper fast food restaurant that caused damage to the building’s interior is now being considered an act of arson resulted in the arrest of an employee from Knox County on not just a charge of arson, but others including drug possession and theft.   

Just before 11:30 am Firefighters with the Jasper Volunteer Fire Department responded to the Rally’s restaurant along US 231 near the Crossing where Jasper Fire Chief Kenny Hochgesang says the blaze was discovered by firefighters in a restroom storage cabinet.

Firemen were able to knock out the blaze in a matter of minutes.

Initially, Hochgesand said exactly what started the fire had yet to be determined though it is was considered suspicious in nature. The Jasper Police Department and Dubois County Sheriff’s Department were called to look further into the matter.

An investigation revealed a strong odor of gasoline coming from within the building. Authorities say an employee 24-year old Braxton Cannon of Vincennes had intentionally started the fire using gasoline and a lighter in the employee restroom.

Police say while being patted down, Cannon became physically resistant with officers and was found to have a white powdery substance in a baggie that police say later field tested positive for methanphetamine.

Police also found 80-dollars in cash in his possession that Cannon admitted to have taken out of the store register as he was leaving the building after setting the fire.

Cannon was taken to the Dubois County Security Center where he was booked on Level 4 Felony counts of Arson, and possession of Methamphetamine as well as a Level 6 felony count of theft and a misdemeanor count of resisting law enforcement.

Meanwhile Hochgesang estimated damage at around 15-hundred dollars and says its uncertain whether or not the restaurant will be open for business today mostly due to needed clean-up.

32 men with three trucks responded to the call.  Firefighters were on the scene for about 30 minutes.

No injuries were reported.

A late morning fire at a Jasper fast food restaurant resulted in damage to the building’s interior.

Just before 11:30 am firefighters with the Jasper Volunteer Fire Department responded to the Rally’s restaurant along US 231 near the Crossing where Jasper Fire Chief Kenny Hochgesang says the blaze was discovered by firefighters in a restroom storage cabinet. Firemen were able to knock out the blaze in a matter of minutes.

Hochgesang says exactly what started the fire has yet to be determined. He estimated damage at around 15-hundred dollars.

32 men with three trucks responded to the call. Firefighters were on the scene for about 30 minutes.

Redevelopment of the former JOFCO building into workforce housing continues to move along.

Last night, the Jasper City Council approved writing a letter of support for the project. Project developer Miller-Valentine Group needs the letter of support from the city in order to secure related tax credits from the state. Those tax credits would come from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority. The credits would help to keep rent for the new units below market rate.

The project seeks to convert a large part of the former JOFCO building at 13th and Vine Streets into apartments for working folks. The factory originally closed in the early 2000’s, though the office space was being used before Jasper Group purchased JOFCO last year. The office space is now occupied by Cash Waggner. The project was originally proposed at the council’s May meeting.

Last month, Jasper mayor Terry Seitz called the project a great opportunity for further development in the city:

Now if development were to take place, the city of Jasper is offering 500 thousand dollars in tax abatements or related incentives. 450 thousand of that amount is for onsite work.

The project is expected to cost 12 to 13 million dollars if it were to be approved.

Progress continues to be made on the Stellar Communities effort in Huntingburg.

Yesterday, the core committee representing the city went to Indianapolis for their first meeting to review the city’s complete application. This also marked the first look at funding for each project associated with the Stellar application.

Now the core committee met with representatives of the Lt Governor’s Office, the Indiana Housing Authority, the Indiana Department of Transportation, and the Office of Community and Rural Affairs. The main goal of the meeting was to coordinate state and local funding for each individual project. City representatives also heard about funding cycles from the state and began developing a timeline for the projects to be done.

Now there are 8 different projects that the city will fund. These include redeveloping the former St. Joseph’s hospital property for senior housing, a 3 phase heritage trail, and a downtown park area among others.

Huntingburg mayor Denny Spinner says things continue to go well with the Stellar designation. He is asking folks to stay patient as the process continues:

A full report on yesterday’s meeting will be given to the Huntingburg City Council at their regular meeting. That will begin at 7 o’clock this evening at Huntingburg City Hall.

Now the city originally received the Stellar designation back in August. The city will be getting 10 million dollars in funding over the next 4 years.

Dubois County Treasurer Chad Blessinger is reminding taxpayers that the deadline is approaching for their second installment of property taxes.

Blessinger says the final day to pay your second installment on time is Monday November 10th. The Treasurer’s office is open from 8 am till 4 pm Monday thru Friday and will also be open on Saturday November 8th from 8 am till noon and until 5 pm on Monday the 10th.

Tax statements were mailed in April. Blessinger says a second notification will not be mailed. If a taxpayer needs a duplicate statement, they should contact the Treasurer’s office at 481-7080.

Bridge cleaning projects along Interstate 64 in eastern Dubois County has now been rescheduled.

Officials with the Indiana Department of Transportation say maintenence crews will be closing lanes of I-64 between State Road 162 at Ferdinand and State Road 66 in Crawford County. That work will now start on Monday. It had been set to start today.

Now officials say work is expected to last about a week. Drivers are being asked as always to slow down and stay alert near the inspection crews.

For construction updates and traffic alerts, follow INDOT on social media at facebook.com/INDOTVincennesDistrict and at twitter.com/INDOTSouthwest or you can access INDOT’s TrafficWise Traveler Information Service at indot.carsprogram.org.

Volunteers are being sought for an upcoming cleanup project at Bruner Creek near Huntingburg.

The cleanup will be taking place on Saturday November 1st along Bruner Creek just east of League Stadium. Volunteers will be collecting trash and other items thrown in the waterway. The effort will get underway at 2 o’clock that afternoon.

Folks who plan on taking part are being asked to wear boots. Trash bags, gloves, and bottled water will be provided. Adults will need to accompany any children under the age of 18.

Data shows that almost 22 thousand people get drinking water from community services in Jasper, Huntingburg, Ferdinand, and Winslow. Winslow and Jasper residents draw water directly from the Patoka River. However, the Middle Patoka River watershed encompasses nearly 237 thousand acres of land. Streams and tributaries in that area often collect trash, litter, old tires, carcasses, old appliances and other waste.

For more information, you can contact Julie Loehr at 812-779-7924.