Bradford Raths

School accountability remains a hot topic of debate for the Indiana Board of Education.

During her appearance in Jasper last week, state superintendent of public instruction Glenda Ritz touched on the controversy surrounding the current A-F grading system. Ritz says going forward, she would like to see some changes in how school performance is noted publically:

Ritz says the school grades have caused students from lower-performing schools to not be admitted to state colleges and universities due to the stigma that comes with the low performance grades.

Now a joint panel appointed by Ritz, Governor Mike Pence, and General Assembly leaders has finished its work with designing a new accountability system. The state board of education delayed the release of A-F grades last week following a heated debate over the recording of schools’ International Baccalaureate scores. That recording error affected scores for a small number of schools statewide.

That new system was discussed at the board’s meeting last week as part of an ongoing review following a grade change scandal in 2013. Then-school superintendent Tony Bennett and top staff members secretly re-wrote the grading formula to raise the grade of Christel House Academy from a ‘C’ to an ‘A’.

Ironically, Christel House’s grade was changed a 2nd time this year, going from a ‘D’ to a ‘B.’ The board of education voted 10-1 last week to make the change. State officials are citing low scores in algebra as being the heart of the grade issues for Christel House.

The recent change has prompted questions from other schools as to why their strong performance is certain areas such as high school tests has not earned them better performance grades.

This past weekend was a deadly one for Dubois County as 2 residents lost their lives in separate accidents.


An early Sunday morning crash along Interstate 64 in Warrick County claimed the life of a Huntingburg woman.

Just after 7:15 yesterday morning, Warrick County Sheriff’s deputies say 31-year-old Abby Lynn Schurz had been driving eastbound along Interstate 64 near the 39 mile marker when her vehicle went off of the south side of the roadway. Deputies say that caused Schurz’s vehicle to roll over and she was thrown out of it.

Schurz was pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities say she was not wearing her seat belt at the time of the crash.

This crash remains under investigation. Indiana State Police also assisted.


A tractor accident in northeastern Spencer County claimed a Ferdinand man’s life Saturday evening.

Just after 5:45 central time, Indiana State Police say 60-year-old Charles Kuntz had been driving his tractor westbound along County Road 1700 North about 1 mile east of State Road 162 when the wheels locked up for an unknown reason. The locked wheels pulled the tractor to the left and off of the south side of the roadway.

The tractor then rolled over Kuntz as it veered off of the road. Kuntz was pronounced dead at the scene by authorities.

The Spencer County Sheriff’s Department, the St. Meinrad and Santa Claus Police Departments, the Santa Claus Fire Department, and Spencer County EMS all assisted Indiana State Police.

3 Dubois County marching bands are moving on to the next round of state competition.

This past Saturday, the Forest Park Marching Rangers and the Southridge Marching Raiders took part in the state regional competition held at Evansville Central High School. Forest Park earned a gold rating in Class D while Southridge was honored with gold in Class C.

Meanwhile, the Jasper Marching Wildcats traveled to Greenwood, Indiana and Center Grove High School for state regional competition. Jasper took home a Gold rating in Class B.

The bands will now compete in the semi-state competition coming up on Saturday November 1st. For that competition, Forest Park will travel to Franklin Community High School in Franklin, Indiana. Meanwhile, Southridge will go to Decatur Central High School in Indianapolis and Jasper goes to Indianapolis’ Pike High School.

All 3 bands will be taking a break from competition this weekend.

The Dubois County Republican Party will be hosting an “Early Vote Rally” in Jasper this afternoon.

The rally will feature Secretary of State Connie Lawson, State Auditor Suzanne Crouch, Congressman Larry Bucshon, and local state representative Mark Messmer. It gets underway at 2 o’clock this afternoon at the county GOP headquarters on the square in downtown Jasper.

Each candidate will speak briefly during today’s rally. Refreshments will also be served.

Now folks who are registered to vote can do so at the Dubois County Courthouse following the rally. Voters will be asked to present a valid photo ID from the State of Indiana and complete an application in order to vote absentee.

Early voting is currently taking place on the third floor of the courthouse. Its open Monday through Friday from 8 to 11 am and again from noon to 4 pm. There are also 2 Saturday opportunities for absentee voting this election. Those are this Saturday October 25th and next Saturday November 1st from 8 am to 3 pm both days.

Satellite voting gets underway at the Huntingburg Events Center and the Ferdinand Community Center next Wednesday October 29th. It will continue through next Saturday November 1st. Hours will be 3 to 7 pm Wednesday through Friday and from 8 am to noon on Saturday.

All ballots will be counted on Election Day.

What began as a leaving the scene of an accident investigation in rural Daviess County over the weekend turned into a large drug bust.

Just before 2:30 Saturday morning, Indiana State Police received a report that a gray Ford F-150 had driven through a fence in the 8300 block of County Road 550 East near Epsom and left the scene. A state trooper and Daviess County Sheriff’s deputies went to the scene and spoke to the property owner, who gave them an idea of who was driving the truck.

After driving in the area near the crash scene for almost 45 minutes, officers found the truck empty in a nearby church parking lot. While waiting for a tow truck crew to take the truck away, officers noticed an SUV slow down and prepare to turn into the parking lot. The SUV sped away and officers gave chase, believing the SUV was stopping to retrieve the truck.

After officers turned on their emergency lights, the SUV accelerated in an attempt to escape. The chase ended a short time later when the SUV’s driver turned off the lights, pulled into a driveway just off of County Road 800 North and stopped. The driver and 1 passenger fled on foot, but officers opted to secure 3 other passengers who were in the vehicle. A Washington Police K-9 unit was called in to track the 2 subjects who fled on foot.

While doing an inventory of the SUV, a state trooper found methamphetamine, hypodermic needles, and other drug paraphernalia. The 2 suspects who fled on foot were not found, but the K9 unit did find a purse belonging to one of the passengers that had a large amount of marijuana in it.

Police took 20-year-old Shawna Campbell of Washington, 18-year-old Joshua Stoll of Montgomery, and 31-year-old Natasha Graber of Elnora into custody. Police say they were able to determine who the other 2 suspects were and warrants were filed for their arrest through the Daviess County court.

Campbell, Stoll, and Graber each face Level 6 felonies for possession of methamphetamine and unlawful possession of a syringe, Class A misdemeanors for possession of paraphernalia, and Class B misdemeanors for visiting a common nuisance. Campbell is facing an additional Level 6 felony for possession of marijuana over 30 grams.

School officials from Dubois County and beyond got the chance to hear more about education on the state level.

This afternoon, Indiana’s superintendent of public instruction Glenda Ritz made a stop in Jasper at KlubHaus 61. Ritz was the keynote speaker for the Rotary Club of Jasper’s Leadership Luncheon.

Now Ritz touched on many different topics in state education. She specifically discussed how education is currently being funded in Indiana and says its the most important topic that comes up when she talks to educators statewide:

Ritz says Indiana may have to find new ways to fund schools in the future as the enrollment-based funding model is not working. She also says she’s pleased to hear that lawmakers have prioritized schools in the upcoming legislative session, though she says it remains to be seen just how much help schools will get.

Ritz also touched on finding ways to make students more active learners along with better accountability standards for schools. She says many teachers and school districts across the state have fallen into the habit of teaching for tests such as IREAD-3 and the ISTEP exams, and that is a trend that needs to stop.

Ritz was elected back in 2012, defeating incumbent Tony Bennett. Ritz has been in education since 1978 and worked as a library media specialist for Indianapolis-based Crooked Creek Elementary School for many years prior to being elected as the state’s top education official.

The Dubois County Communications Center has now made the Text-to-911 service available.

In a news release, communications center director Janice Love says the service is intended to be used only when calling 9-1-1 is not an option. Examples of this include callers who may be deaf or has trouble speaking or hearing, callers who cannot speak due to a medical condition, or callers dealing with a home invasion or other emergency that would not be safe for them to speak with a dispatcher.

Now back in May, Love talked with WBDC News about the new service. She said then that voice calling is still the best way to go:

Love maintained that stance in yesterday’s announcement. She says the time involved by both the person involved and the 9-1-1 dispatcher makes the service problematic.

Love also is offering several tips for folks wanting to use the text-to-911 service. These include:

-Giving the problem and an EXACT location in the initial text (including city/town)

-NEVER use slang or abbreviations when texting to the 9-1-1 center.

-Information should be as clear and accurate as possible.

Now text-to-911 began in other parts of the state back in May, including in Gibson and Warrick counties. Love says the service is not yet available nationwide, though it will eventually be.

Verizon Wireless was the first mobile carrier to offer the service. AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile customers will have access to the service sometime before the end of the year.