German American Releases Positive Quarterly Report

Jasper-based German American Bancorp Inc. reported today increased quarterly earnings and continued balance sheet growth during the first quarter of 2013, as compared to the same quarter last year. German American’s first-quarter 2013 net income of $5.8 million, or 46 cents per share, represented an increase of approximately 5 percent, on a per-share basis, above the net income of $5.6 million, or 44 cents per share, reported in the first quarter of 2012.

As compared to the same quarter prior-year results, this quarter’s earnings were positively affected by a $1.1 million increase in total noninterest income, driven primarily by an approximately $400,000 increase in insurance revenue and a $200,000 increase in trust fees, as well as a nearly $600,000 elevated level of net gains on the sales of securities in the current year, according to a company news release.

Further enhancing the level of the company’s first-quarter 2013 earnings was a $340,000 reduction in the amount of provision for loan loss from that booked during the prior year’s first quarter. This reduction in the level of loan loss provision was related to a continued improvement during the first quarter of this year of an already strong level of asset quality within the company’s loan portfolio.

German American also reported higher levels of loans and deposits as compared to the first quarter of last year. March 31, 2013, loans outstanding increased by $100 million, or 9 percent, while total deposits increased by approximately $55 million, or 3 percent, compared to March 31, 2012, total loans and deposits. This increase in both loans and deposits during the past year is reflective of the company’s continued growing of its base of both lending clients and deposit customers.

The company also announced that its board of directors declared its regular quarterly cash dividend of 15 cents per share, which will be payable May 20 to shareholders of record May 10.


Schnellenberger Out as ISTA President

Former Forest Park High School science teacher Nate Schnellenberger decided to step down as president of the Indiana State Teachers Association.

The 62-year old Jasper resident elected not to run for a third three-year term. He has been replaced by Shelbyville elementary school teacher Teresa Meredith. Meredith was elected to the position on Monday.

Schnellenberger began his tenure as president of the ISTA in 2007. He spent 34 years in education, 30 of those years at Forest Park. During his tenure, he fought unsuccessfully against a raft of education changes, including merit pay and bargaining rights restrictions, which were pushed by former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels and former State Superintendent for Public Instruction Tony Bennett over the past six years.

Teachers helped to push Bennett out of office last year and elected union member Glenda Ritz to the State Superintendent’s post.

Dubois County Council Approves Design Appropriation for Park Access Road

Last night, the Dubois County Council approved an appropriation of $30,000 for the Highway Department to begin the process of designing a second access road to the county park.

The idea of a second access road for the park is something that has been thrown around for months amid concerns of emergency vehicles having difficulty entering the park in the event of an emergency during events such as the 4-H fair with just one access road, which currently enters the park off of State Road 162.

The proposed road would cost the county $375,000 including the design cost and it would branch off of an unnamed gravel road west of the park to the east of County Road 50 East and just to the north of County Road 450 South.

Dubois County Park Board President Jason Schmitt says the appropriation for design is a good first step:

Much of the debate on the new road amongst council members during last night’s meeting surrounded  whether to make the new road a fully paved road or to make it more of a chip and seal type road, a solution that the council as a whole seemed to have no problem with.

County Council President Greg Kendall says the road will certainly be important in the event of an emergency:

The road would mostly be used in emergency situations. A gate would be installed towards the end of the road near the park and would likely be locked if there are no events going on at the fairgrounds. County Engineer Jason Heinle told the council that residents would have to sign a right-of-way petition before the county could begin any construction of a new road.

Also last night, the county council approved a total appropriation of $75,200 for the Sheriff’s Department for roof work on the county jail. That figure takes into account the cost of a brand new rhino-liner to put over the current roof, which Kendall says would save the county a significant amount of money versus replacing the roof, as well as the cost of repairing recent tornado damage.

Jasper Utility Board Special Meeting: 4/29

Yesterday evening, the Jasper Utility Board held a special meeting hoping to start taking bids for the 3rd Avenue Water Project.

The Jasper Utility Board set this meeting in hopes of hearing from the Economic Development Administration concerning aid from a federal grant. However, the board did not get any information on the grant. EDA is still waiting for their allocation from Congress for funds.

In the meeting last night, the board took two actions. First, they will continue their pursuit of the grant. Secondly, the board returned the bids that they had received unopened so that if whether they get the grant or not, the companies that submitted bids can resubmit their bid with changes when the utility board decides to move forward with the project.

The Jasper Utility Board hopes to hear from the EDA around May 10th or 11th. The total cost of the project is estimated at $1.5 million. The grant would award the utility board $745,000. The city of Jasper would match that grant dollar for dollar. With the next utility board meeting scheduled for May 20th, the board is up in the air as to when they can actually get the Third Avenue water project underway. Wayne Schuetter, chairman of the utility board, explains:

Schuetter says the project is roughly 6,000 feet, stretching from just south of the German American Insurance Building all the way out to Jasper Lumber. It will be a moving project set in tiers. The city of Jasper plans on paving the entire street in a combined project format pending the EDA grant.

Knox County Sheriff’s Deputy Involved in Shooting; Vincennes Man Dead

A Knox County Sheriff’s deputy was involved in a shooting last night that claimed the life of a Vincennes man.

Indiana State Police say the Knox County deputy, whose name is being withheld, was traveling along Wilbur Street in Vincennes just before 10 pm last night when he was stopped by friends of 42-year-old Ross Darkis of Vincennes. Darkis’ friends told the deputy that Darkis was intoxicated and was on his front porch with a handgun.

Police say the deputy was then told by Darkis’ friends that Darkis had been in an argument with his girlfriend earlier in the evening and was very upset. The deputy, along with additional officers from the Knox County Sheriff’s Office and the Vincennes City Police Department went to Darkis’ home in the 200 block of Wilbur Street.

Once at the scene, officers attempted to get Darkis to surrender his weapon, but Darkis refused to cooperate. Officers used a taser and a weapon that discharges a small bean-bag in attempt to diffuse the situation, but both non-lethal weapons were unsuccessful.

At approximately 10:25 p.m., Darkis raised the handgun he was holding toward the officers. In order to protect themselves and other officers on scene, several of the officers fired their weapons. Darkis was struck multiple times and was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital in Vincennes where he was pronounced dead several minutes later.

No officers were injured during the shootout. All officer names are being withheld at this time. The Indiana State Police investigation into the incident is ongoing.

The Knox County Coroner’s Office also assisted at the scene.

Jasper Man Arrested for Being Habitual Traffic Violator

A Jasper man is behind bars after police responded to a complaint of a suspicious vehicle.

Jasper Police received a call just before 12:30 this morning concerning a darker colored Jeep Curtis Rodgersacting suspiciously in the Maltersville area. Police say a vehicle matching that description was located driving into an apartment complex on Conrad Avenue.

It was determined by police that the driver of the vehicle, 29-year-old Curtis Rodgers of Jasper, was a habitual traffic violator for life. Rodgers was arrested and charged with a Class C felony for driving while HTV.

Rodgers was lodged in the Dubois County Security Center.

Huntingburg Woman Uninjured in Utility Pole Collision

A Huntingburg woman was uninjured after colliding with a stop sign and utility pole on the southside of Jasper yesterday afternoon.

Jasper Police say 47-year-old Melissa Croucher-Hoten of Huntingburg was traveling northbound on Kimball Boulevard near HRJ Lane just before 5 pm yesterday afternoon when police say she became distracted and looked away from the road for a moment.

Police say Croucher-Hoten told them that she then swerved to miss a small animal in the middle of the road, causing her vehicle to hit a stop sign and nearby utility pole.

Croucher-Hoten’s truck suffered $20,000 worth of damage. The utility pole was undamaged. No charges were filed.