Bradford Raths

Jasper fire crews were kept busy with the 2nd major residential fire in 4 days overnight.

Just before 8:40 last night, Jasper firefighters were called to a 4 plex unit at 550 Circle Pine Drive on a reported structure fire. Fire chief Kenny Hochgesang tells WBDC News that the kitchen area of the upstairs north apartment was fully engulfed in flames by the time firefighters arrived on scene. Hochgesang says those living in the unit were outside when fire crews arrived and had alerted other folks to the blaze.

Hochgesang says nobody was injured in this fire. He says everyone in the affected apartment and the surrounding units was able to get out safely.

Hochgesang says the fire was caused by a pan of grease left on the stove. With unattended grease pans now to blame for both of the recent Jasper fires, Hochgesang is now reminding folks to be on the alert:

Hochgesang says the upstairs unit sustained at least 30 to 40 thousand dollars worth of damage in the kitchen area. He says there was also smoke and water damage throughout the building, though the units are still livable for the most part.

The Jasper Fire Department responded with 5 trucks and 33 firefighters. They were on scene for just over an hour.

Jasper Police, Dubois County Sheriff’s deputies, Indiana State Police, and Memorial Hospital EMS also assisted.

Jasper officials are now mulling new ideas to prevent water quality issues such as the one that caused a 4 day city wide boil order last month.

Last night, Jasper utilties general manager Bud Hauersperger gave a report on the late September boil order. Hauersperger reported that the problems began on September 15th, 2 days prior to the boil order being issued. According to the report, the Jasper Water Filtration Plant noticed that day that the chlorine residual in the plant’s treated water was dropping to below normal levels. They also found that the potassium permanganate level was dropping in the raw water. The plant then added chlorine and the manganese as protocol dictated and the situation was rectified for the time being.

The problem returned the next morning (September 16th) when filter plant operators again discovered that manganese levels were dropping. More manganese was added and everything again returned to normal.

By the evening, the problem returned and had gotten worse. The night time plant operators noted high turbidity (cloudy water) in the plant’s filter clear well. The cause was unclear and after plant employee Tim Doersam took a water sample from his home and brought it in for testing, a boil order was determined to be necessary. Doersam then contacted gas and water manager Ernie Hinkle, Hauersperger, and Jasper mayor Terry Seitz. A group meeting then led to the issuing of the city wide boil order at around 3:30 am on September 17th. Doersam also contacted both the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and Midwestern Engineers for help.

Doersam says IDEM and Midwestern played a huge part in getting the water quality back to where it was supposed to be:

The cause of the issue was ruled to be an inversion of the Patoka River. That ruling was made by IDEM.

City officials say they are now looking into the possibility of several new technologies. These include better communication methods and using sodium based manganese in the plant rather than potassium based. Other technologies such as use of an ultra-low level manganese testing kit and testing 3 times a day instead of once a day have already been implemented.

Seitz says from a city standpoint, he is pleased with how the whole situation was handled by everyone:

Now this boil order was the first one in a long time for the city of Jasper. The last one occurred back in 2004 when the city switched its water over to the current water treatment plant.

The Dubois County Republican Party hosted a major rally aimed at getting people to the polls.

Yesterday, the local GOP hosted a candidate rally at their headquarters on the square in downtown Jasper. The event featured federal, state, and local candidates with the theme ‘Get Out the Vote’.

Now several candidates spoke briefly at yesterday’s rally. These included 8th District Congressman Larry Bucshon, state auditor Suzanne Crouch, and state representative Mark Messmer among others.

Don Hayes is the chairman for the Dubois County Republican Party. He says the event serves as a great opportunity for folks to once again meet with their candidates. Hayes says candidates have been out in the community a lot more in recent years, which he says is a good thing:

Hayes is also continuing to encourage folks to get out and vote early. He says votes will always matter regardless of whether or not there are a lot of races of interest to folks.

Meanwhile, all of the candidates who spoke expressed confidence in their positions heading into the November 4th election. Bucshon says on the national level, the Republicans are in good position to take back the Senate and to gain seats in the House.

Bucshon says those developments should set the stage for more to get done on the federal level of government:

Moving to the state level, Crouch says the recent efforts by her office to be more transparent have been received well by all Hoosiers. She says folks are coming around as time goes on:

On a final note, Messmer says his campaign for the District 48 state senate seat has gone well. He says Southwestern Indiana will likely continue down a more conservative path over time:

Yesterday’s stop in Jasper was the first of several planned statewide as part of the Indiana GOP’s ‘Experience and Transparency Tour.’ Candidates also stopped in Daviess, Gibson, and Knox counties yesterday.

Troopers with the Indiana State Police Jasper Post have found new evidence as they continue to search for 2 people involved in an early Saturday morning pursuit.

Early yesterday afternoon, state troopers conducted a K-9 search in an area around County Road 750 Handgun FoundNorth and County Road 550 East near Epsom. The search turned up a 44 caliber handgun that had been tossed into a ditch. It was found lying in a patch of weeds.

The K-9 unit, led by dog “Diesel”, were searching the area for more evidence connected with the DieselSaturday pursuit in the area. That morning, Trooper Mitch Weir arrested 3 other people on felony drug charges.

State troopers say they are not sure at this point if the weapon was tossed by the 2 suspects who fled from them. The State Police Forensic Lab will now conduct further fingerprint testing to match the gun with its owner. Troopers say they can confirm that a handgun which posed a danger and could’ve been found by a child is now safely secured.

This investigation is still ongoing. Anyone who has more information is being encouraged to call the Indiana State Police Jasper Post. That number is 482-1441 or 1-800-742-7475.

A Halloween-themed fundraiser is being held in Jasper coming up later this month.

The community-wide “Jack O’Lanterns for Jill” event will take place on Halloween night. It will go from 6 til 10:30 pm at the home of Ottie and Meredith Voegerl in the 1100 block of West 13th Street.

The event is being held as a fundraiser for the Mark and Jill Ernst family. Jill Ernst is currently undergoing treatment for multiple myeloma. She will soon begin specialized treatment that will require her and her family to travel extensively. Proceeds from next Friday’s event will directly benefit the family so that they may be together while Jill is being treated.

Now the event is designed to be a jack-o-lantern showcase in the Voegerl home’s front lot. Folks will be able to drive by or park in order to see the pumpkins. There is no cost for this event, but folks are being encouraged to donate.

The Voegerl family is looking for carved pumpkin donations from the community for this Halloween display. Folks can drop off the pumpkins between 5 and 8 pm next Thursday October 30th or anytime on Halloween Friday before the display begins. Folks are also asked to include a small votive candle inside of the pumpkin.

The goal for the event is to have 150 pumpkins on display, but the Voegerls will accept as many pumpkins as folks want to donate.

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.