Bradford Raths

What started as serving an arrest warrant on a Jasper man led to the arrest of him and 3 other people on drug-related charges.

Just before 6:45 Saturday night, Indiana State Police tipped off Jasper Police that 20-year-old Caleb Dubon Jr. was living in the 1500 block of Mill Street. Dubon Jr was wanted on warrant for failing to appear in court recently. Caleb Dubon

JPD says officers noticed Dubon leaving the residence in a black passenger car. He was pulled over a short time later at 17th and Newton Streets.

After taking Dubon into custody on the warrant, police got consent to search the vehicle. Officers found methamphetamine along with used hypodermic needles.

3 other passengers in the vehicle (21-year-old Jade Jones and 21-year-old Shawna Campbell both of Washington along with 20-year-old Hayley Camplin of Huntingburg) were also taken into custody. All 4 were booked into the Dubois County Security Center.

All are charged with possession of methamphetamine and possession of paraphernalia. Dubon is facing the drug charges in addition to the failure to appear charge on his warrant.

State officials are once again raising awareness for car vs train crashes.

Governor Mike Pence has declared this week as Rail Safety Week across the state of Indiana. Awareness efforts are a partnership between Indiana Operation Lifesaver, Indiana State Police, the Indiana Department of Transportation, local law enforcement and railroad companies.

Now Indiana Operation Lifesaver is coordinating numerous law enforcement blitzes across the state. Police will be on the lookout for various violations at railroad crossings, such as driving around lowered crossing gates and trespassing on railroad property.

In a news release, Indiana Operation Lifesaver Executive Director Jessica Feder says train and car crashes are completely preventable. She says the goal is to inform the public on how dangerous it is to try and beat a train to a railroad crossing. She says another goal is to remind people that its dangerous and illegal to trespass on railroad tracks and property.

Last year, there were 122 railroad crossing collisions across Indiana. Those resulted in 50 people injured and 9 fatalities. The impact has already been felt locally this year with a Birdseye man being killed last month at the railroad crossing along State Road 145 in Birdseye.

The Hoosier State currently has the 4th most railroad crossing accidents in the country. Additionally, 10 people who trespassed on railroad property were killed with 11 others injured.

To learn more about Indiana Operation Lifesaver, please visit them online at www.oli.org or call (812) 528-4327.

The idea of a lake management plan for Beaver Lake is gaining traction.

Earlier this morning, the Jasper Park Board voted to increase fees at the lake over the next 5 years to start building a lake management fund. The increases will be $15 in launch fees and $25 for dock fees. The total amount to be raised will be $36,775.

Now the park board will also kick in $15,000 for the fund, for a total of $51,775 to be raised over the next 5 years towards lake management. That $15,000 was originally slated to go towards the rebuilding of the Beaver Lake spillway, but Brad Popp with ‘Friends of Beaver Lake’ told the board that they’ve already raised $148,597 as of today, almost $8,600 more than anticipated. All of that money will be applied to the cost of the spillway and the extra funds will cover any remaining gap, thus the $15,000 was no longer needed for the project.

Earlier this week, Popp discussed the idea of a lake management plan. He stated the group could also apply for grants to help with lake management over the long run:

The $51,775 will eventually be put into a separate fund for Beaver Lake management, but that account is not yet set up. For now, the city is collecting the money into a fund already set aside for the Beaver Lake Dam. Popp presented checks from lot owners to city clerk-treasurer Juanita Boehm at this morning’s meeting.

Now there is more to this lake management process. A new city-led board will be formed to lead Beaver Lake management efforts over the next 5 years. That board would consist of city utilities and park board members along with lot owners from the lake.

The Jasper City Council will hold a further discussion on Beaver Lake coming up at 7:30 Monday morning at Jasper City Hall.

Congratulations go out to Jasper Chamber of Commerce executive director Nancy Eckerle.

Last night, Eckerle was honored with the 2015 Athena International Leadership Award sponsored by the Rotary Club of Jasper. The presentation took place at the Huntingburg Events Center and featured honors for all 5 finalists. The other finalists were Phyllis Ackerman, Darla Blazey, Julie Dutchess and Ann Knies.Nancy Eckerle

Eckerle has been in charge of the Jasper Chamber since 1987. She has founded several local organizations, including the Dubois County Substance Abuse Council, the Summer Riverwalk Concert Series, Jasper’s O’Tannenbaum Days and Patoka 2000, which is Jasper’s beautification committee.

Eckerle says she was very surprised to win the Athena Award. She says there is one common theme that has led to her success as a leader in the community:

Among Eckerle’s recent accomplishments is the formation of the ‘Women Empowering Women’ group. That group was officially launched last fall and Eckerle says around 100 women have attended each meeting since.

Now Eckerle is also very involved with committees for youth. These include being a 4H leader, a coach for a Destination Imagination team and a board member for both Junior Achievement and Mentors for Youth.

Eckerle becomes the 4th winner of the local Athena Award. The previous 3 were Jane Chappell, Brenda Stallings, and last year’s winner Kathy Tretter.

Last night’s keynote speaker was current president and CEO of Evansville’s Deaconness Health System Linda E. White. White echoed Eckerle’s sentiment when it comes to being a leader:

Now White also led a surprise presentation during her speech. She gave each of the finalists Subway gift cards and a 1 thousand dollar check to present to local entities. Those who will recieve money are the Jasper Rotary Club, the Jasper Chamber of Commerce, Jasper High School, Ireland Elementary School and Community Food Bank of Jasper.

Rotary Club of Jasper officials say this year’s Athena Award ceremony was the most successful with the largest crowd and most sponsors to date. 1/3rd of last night’s proceeds will go to a charity of choice in Eckerle’s name. That charity this year is Freedom Reigns, which will likely get somewhere in the neighborhood of $4,000 when all is said and done.

Local torchbearer nominations are continuing to be accepted for the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay coming up next year.

The relay will be stopping at each of the 4 school districts in the county as it makes its way through on September 14th of next year. Local nominations are due by October 1st.

Of course, torchbearer nominations recognize Hoosiers who demonstrate exceptional public service, excellence in their profession, acts of heroism or volunteer service to their neighborhood, community, region or state.

The Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay will start September 9, 2016 in Corydon, Indiana’s first state capital, and culminate with a celebration October 15, 2016 on the grounds of the statehouse in Indianapolis. The torch relay will touch each of Indiana’s 92 counties during the 2,300 mile journey across the state.

For more information, you can go to visitduboiscounty.com or indiana2016.org.

Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari need your help in the race to be named the world’s best water park.

Splashin’ Safari is currently sitting at #2 in the voting for ‘Best Outdoor Water Park,’ which is part of USA Today’s ‘Reader’s Choice Travel Awards.’ There are still 10 days left in the voting and Splashin’ Safari is one of 20 outdoor water parks in the contest.

To vote for Splashin’ Safari, you can go to 10best.com. You can vote once a day from each device up to the end of the contest.

Now Splashin’ Safari has already been #1 in the ‘Best Outdoor Water Park’ voting from USA Today. They first had that distinction back in 2013.

Of course, Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari are no stranger to national and international recognition. Back in July, Holiday World was voted the 3rd best park in the nation and 10th best in the world by TripAdvisor.com. Splashin’ Safari was named the 4th best water park in the nation and came in at 13th in the world. Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari have also gotten recognition in similar polls done by CNN and the Travel Channel.

At 40 acres, Splashin’ Safari is one of the largest water parks in the world. It is also home to the 2 longest water coasters in the world (Mammoth and Wildebeest) as well as dozens of other water attractions, slides, and wave pools.

Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann will be presenting a pair of awards, one of which bears the name of a local icon.

This afternoon, Ellspermann will present the 2015 Lt. Governor’s Hoosier Hospitality Awards. These awards recognize exceptional service by front-line employees in tourism-related jobs at hotels, restaurants, attractions and other destinations across the state.

Also during the ceremony, Ellspermann will present this year’s Will Koch Indiana Tourism Leadership Award. The award is named for the late Will Koch, who was the long-time owner and president at Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari. Honorees who receive this award are recognized for outstanding accomplishments in economic and community development through tourism.

The awards ceremony will be held at the Visit Indiana Harvest Pavilion at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Doors open at 2 o’clock this afternoon with the ceremony starting at 2:30.