Bradford Raths

In the wake of yesterday’s fire, officials in Loogootee are now left to wonder about the future.

Martin County prosecutor Mike Steiner says fire crews were called at 10 o’clock yesterday morning for the fire. Steiner says the fire started inside of Rosie’s Shirts and Gift Shop. Reports from the scene say a glue gun spark inside of Rosie’s caused the fire to start.

Steiner says the fire quickly spread to other businesses, including Laurie’s Flowers, His and Hers Beauty Salon, and The Cartridge Depot. He says the fire also jumped across Main Street and damaged a couple of businesses on the south side of the street. Steiner says nobody was injured. 6 businesses in all were involved and others sustained smoke and/or water damage.

Steiner says the rapid spread of the fire can be attributed both to the age of the buildings and the lack of brick fire walls between them. Steiner says when and if the area is rebuilt, fire walls will likely be part of the equation:

Now yesterday also presented a few challenges for fire crews. Temperatures were near freezing throughout the morning and into the afternoon.

Steiner says the work of all involved in fighting the fire cannot be overstated:

The Loogootee and Shoals Fire Departments, Martin County Sheriff’s Department, Martin County EMS, and Martin County Civil Defense all were called in to help. Firefighters with the Cannelburg, Washington, and Reeve Township Fire Departments in Daviess County along with an aerial truck from Crane also assisted.

US 231 through Loogootee was closed for more than 7 hours yesterday afternoon while fire crews worked to put out the blaze.

Jasper city officials are continuing to look into options for citywide communication should emergency situations arise.

City representatives have recently met with county officials as well as folks from Huntingburg, Ferdinand, and other communities across Dubois County to discuss the available options. Jasper mayor Terry Seitz says any system could be done by partnering with other communities or going to a county-wide emergency communications system. The city currently does not have its own emergency communications system.

Some of the options being explored include the CodeRed system. CodeRed is currently used in Spencer, Perry, Daviess, and Knox counties here in southwestern Indiana. Dubois County officials have looked into the CodeRed system in the past for weather-related emergencies, but the system was never implemented for various reasons.

Now this effort is in response to the recent report about communications during the boil order that Jasper experienced back in September. Seitz again praised the Greater Jasper School Corporation for the use of their call system during the boil order. He says that was the most successful method the city used outside of local media to communicate with residents.

Seitz says some city call lists were a bit outdated, part of which can be attributed to changes in technology. He says those changes will likely be factored into any future decisions on an emergency communications system:

Other options being explored could include other dial-out system that folks could opt into to get emergency messages.

Seitz says there are still many things to be worked out. He says the city may go forward on its own if need be:

Now Ferdinand is currently working on implementing an AM radio station that would be used for communicating information to town residents. Seitz says that could be another option to look into, though he says more research would need to be done.

The Indiana Youth Institute says agriculture-based jobs may be the way to go for students in Dubois County and beyond who are struggling to gain hold in the current job market.

IYI President and CEO Bill Stanczykiewicz says many students don’t consider farm-based careers for a number of reasons. However, he says recent data suggests that these jobs will be in high demand:

Stanczykiewicz says agribusiness is currently a $25 billion a year industry in Indiana. He says there are 300 career options in the agribusiness industry and most of those are actually skill-based jobs:

Stanczykiewicz says technology will be a big part of the future in agribusiness. He says computer technology is already found in everything on the farm, including tractors and combines.

Stanczykiewicz says technology will have a key role in farmers maximizing their crop yields down the road:

In closing, Stanczykiewicz says students who go into the agribusiness field can play a key role in the world economy going forward:

For more information on these opportunities, you can go to the Indiana Youth Institute’s website. That’s Click on the “Feeding the World” story at the top of the home page.

Efforts to remove excess phosphorous from the town of Ferdinand’s water supply are continuing to move forward.

Last night, the Ferdinand town council received a draft memorandum from Commonwealth Engineers about a recently completed study on the issue. The study came about after new phosphorous limits were set by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

IDEM set the limit at 1 mg of phosphorous per liter of water. The Ferdinand waste water plant’s average is currently at 5 mg per liter.

Now the study lays out several alternatives for reducing the level of phosphorous in the water. The two main options are chemical phosphorous removal and biological phosphorous removal. The chemical removal would cost an estimated 205 thousand dollars for the town to go through with. That’s compared with more than 1.1 million dollars for the biological method. The council approved going with the chemical removal method.

Other options involve the processing of sludge disposal from the waste water plant. The 3 alternatives that Commonwealth presented here are continued liquid land application, belt filter press with landfill disposal, and drying beds. The drying beds were the most inexpensive option at just over 1.4 million dollars. Each of the other 2 options came with an estimated price tag of nearly 1.7 million dollars.

Other costs involved with the project would include regular operation and maintenance costs. These would come out to roughly 190 thousand dollars a year for the town.

Waste water superintendent Roger Schaeffer says getting the phosphorous levels in the water down is needed in order to maintain water quality:

Schaefer says the phosphorous removal will likely drive up rates for town residents. He says those numbers will be determined once more information on the total costs is gathered.

The town would also have to increase its sludge storage capacity. The town currently has 40,000 gallons of capacity. The needed storage space is 240,000 gallons.

A Jasper man was taken into custody after police say he was driving recklessly through town while under the influence of alcohol.

At 10:10 last night, a Jasper Police officer saw a vehicle going southbound on Meridian. Police say the Shawn Sturgeonvehicle was speeding, ran a stop sign, and made an illegal pass before the officer pulled the vehicle over near Bohnert Park.

Police say the driver (27-year-old Shawn Sturgeon) was found to be intoxicated. He was also found to have a suspended license. His BAC was found to be .13 percent, almost twice the legal limit.

Sturgeon was lodged in the Dubois County Security Center. He is facing OWI and reckless driving charges.

He was also cited for driving with a suspended license.

This year’s Ferdinand Folk Fest Fondo was a huge success once again.

Yesterday morning, officials with DC Multisport presented the proceeds from the bicycle race to the Ferdinand Check PresentationFamily Scholar House Program at the Monastery of Immaculate Conception. This year’s check came out to five thousand 615 dollars. Sister Barbara Lynn Schmitz was on hand to accept the money on behalf of Family Scholar House.

The organization plans to use the money to continue its work with 65 families to end the cycle of poverty and transform the community.

This year’s Folk Fest Fondo saw 88 cyclists in all participate. They came from Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee.

The Huntingburg Airport is among those who have concerns about the possible implementation of a tax increment finance district in Jasper.

Last night, airport manager Travis McQueen reported to the Dubois County Airport Authority about some of those concerns. The biggest among these is the potential effect of the district on the revenue streams for the airport.

McQueen says the TIF district would have a much wider effect than most people realize. He says 1/4th of the airport’s funding comes from county tax dollars, and the county is among 6 entities that could be affected by a potential TIF. Other impacted entities according to McQueen include the city of Jasper, the Greater Jasper school district, and the Jasper Public Library.

McQueen says the TIF process will be something that the airport watches very closely:

McQueen says the airport will have to increase its existing revenue streams that aren’t funded by taxes. He says they will continue to talk with Jasper city officials and others to gather data on potential impacts.

From his perspective, Jasper mayor Terry Seitz says the TIF is needed to grow the city for the future:

If approved, city officials say the new TIF area would cover the majority of the industrial areas of Jasper. Seitz says funding collected from the new district can be used for things such as education projects.

Now the TIF process is still in its preliminary stages. Seitz says there has only been a declaratory resolution passed thus far. The plan will be presented to both the Jasper Plan Commission and the Jasper City Council this month. No decisions are expected this month.