Local Coverage

Indiana 8th District Congressman Larry Bucshon is 1 of 2 Hoosier State representatives who will serve on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Bucshon announced his new assignment to the committee yesterday afternoon. The committee oversees energy and environmental legislation, along with major business areas including telecommunications, food and drug safety, and environmental quality. Republican Congressman Fred Upton of Michigan chairs the committee.

Bucshon was elected to a 3rd term as 8th District congressman earlier this month. He was originally elected to Congress in 2010. Bucshon unsuccessfully pressed President Barack Obama to tour a coal mine with him when the president visited Princeton, Indiana, last month. The proposed tour was in response to recent efforts of the EPA to futher regulate the coal industry.

Susan Brooks of Indiana’s 5th District is the other member of Congress from the state to serve on the committee. 5 other Congressman were selected to the committee. They come from New York, North Dakota, Texas, North Carolina, and Oklahoma.

Last year was a banner year for 10th Street Elementary.

Last night, principal Kent Taylor along with teachers and staff presented some of the data from last year to the Greater Jasper School Board. The main focus of the data was on ISTEP scores.

Now 10th Street School had originally set out a goal in 2010 to improve ISTEP scores. The original goal laid out by the school was to get to an 80 percent passing rate in all reading subcategories of the test. The plan was originally supposed to take 5 years to complete. However, the school reached their goal in 4 years. Taylor told the board they came close to that goal several times in the first couple of years, but didn’t quite make it until this year. The school’s overall ISTEP passing rate was up to 76.6% last year. That was a jump of nearly 5 percent from the 2013 test.

Taylor says several things including more small group instruction and the addition of strategic writing to the curriculum had a positive impact on scores. Greater Jasper superintendent Dr. Tracey Lorey says the specific writing instruction played a key role:

10th Street school hosted a celebration of that success for students and parents back in September. Both 5th and 10th Street elementaries raised their state school performance grades this year. Each school went from a ‘C’ to an ‘A’.

Also last night, the board discussed next year’s calendar. The specific discussion centered around the number of snow days. Next year’s calendar will feature 6 snow days in all. That’s up from 5 this year.

Of course, Jasper is among the area schools that have already used 1 snow day this year. Lorey says the district will have to find a way to make things work should this winter cause numerous school cancellations:

Monday’s snow day will be made up on Martin Luther King Day (Monday January 19th).

A St. Anthony teen was injured after hitting a tree in front of a home on Newton Street in Jasper yesterday.

At 7:55 last night, Jasper Police were called to the 1400 block of Newton Street on a reported one vehicle accident. Police say 17-year-old Carrie Broadway was driving southbound on Newton Street just south of 15th Street when something got stuck under the brake pedal of her vehicle. As Broadway tried to remove the item, it hit the accelerator causing the vehicle to speed up. Broadway then went left of center to avoid traffic in front of her before going off of the east side of the roadway and hitting a tree in the front yard of a home in the 1400 block.

Broadway suffered a fractured ankle in the accident. She was taken to Memorial Hospital for treatment.

Damage to Broadway’s vehicle was estimated at 4 thousand dollars. Police did not file charges.

Memorial Hospital EMS also assisted.

This year’s edition of the Santa Claus Land of Lights will be opening soon.

The 6th annual Family Christmas Light Adventure will open Thanksgiving evening (November 27th). The light display, which is done at Lake Rudolph Campground and RV Resort, is designed to tell the Shining Story of Rudolph. It does this through thousands of bright, energy-efficient LED lights and dozens of storyboards.

The light show spans 1.2 miles, making it one of the largest lighting displays in North America. Each vehicle that goes through the display will get their picture taken with Rudolph.

Part of the proceeds from the light show will go to Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Ohio Valley. Nearly 33 thousand dollars has been raised to sponsor families at the Ronald McDonald House in Evansville over the first 5 years of the event.

Discount coupons of $4 off per vehicle are being offered at 39 different McDonalds locations across Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky. The Santa Claus Land of Lights will be open from 5 to 9 pm central time on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays starting Thanksgiving Week and running through December 14th. It will then be open every night from December 17th through New Year’s Eve, with the exception of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

For the complete operating schedule or to buy passes, you can go online to SantaClausLandofLights.com.

The debate is now heating up as the city of Jasper continues looking into tax increment financing districts.

The Jasper City Council held a lengthy discussion surrounding TIF districts last night. Rich Starkey and Ed Curtain with CWC Latitudes gave a presentation to the council on what TIF districts can do for a city’s economic development.

The city has proposed an area for a TIF district. The new TIF would cover the majority of the industrial area in Jasper. It would stretch from an area near the Patoka River to as far north as 36th Street, as far south as the southern boundary of the city along US 231, and most of the city’s east side. A declaratory resolution for the TIF was passed during Monday’s Redevelopment Commission meeting.

The TIF idea was met with mixed feelings. Councilman Kevin Manley was among those who voiced concerns. Manley pointed to the loss of money for the Greater Jasper School Corporation among other local entities. Members of the Dubois County Council also were on hand last night to express their concerns about the impact that a TIF would have on county funding. Other affected entities would include the Jasper Public Library and even the Huntingburg Airport.

Manley says he isn’t sure that a TIF district is needed due to the success of the city’s tax abatement program and other incentives:

Manley also expressed concerns about the timeline with a TIF district. A TIF district would be in place for up to 25 years. By contrast, tax abatements last 10 years at the most.

Concerns were also raised about the management structure for TIF. The money from the city’s proposed TIF area would go to the Jasper Redevelopment Commission. They would then use the money to pay for projects that are already part of an improved plan or to help businesses. Major spending would have to be approved by the council.

Jasper mayor Terry Seitz remains a big supporter of a TIF district. He says the TIF would be another opportunity for the city to be competitive. He also appreciates the feedback from citizens and the council on the idea:

The council is expected to make its final decision on TIF at next month’s meeting.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Indiana wildlife officials say bobcat sightings are increasing and the state could someday allow a limited fur-trapping season for the wildcats.

Bobcats were classified as endangered from 1969 until 2005, when they were removed from Indiana’s endangered species list.

WRTV reports (http://bit.ly/11tVG0l ) the state Department of Natural Resources has been tracking an increase in bobcat sightings around Indiana. The agency this week posted on its Facebook page a photograph of a young bobcat struck and killed by a car in central Indiana’s Tipton County.

The DNR says Indiana’s bobcat population is expected to continue growing in areas with good habitat.

The agency says it’s possible there may be a limited trapping season for bobcats in the future, especially in their strongholds in southern and northeastern Indiana.

As we near Christmas, folks in Santa Claus are getting ready to kick off holiday festivities in style this year.

On December 1st, Santa and his elves will be making this year’s special Christmas postmark available to the public. It will be available from 5 to 7 o’clock central time that evening inside of the Original Post Office at the Santa Claus Museum and Village.

Kids who are wanting to write letters to Santa this year are also invited to stop by the post office and visit with Santa. He’ll be helping kids of all ages to get their Christmas lists finished up. Letters have to be received by December 20th in order to get a response from Santa and the elves.

Now this year is extra special for Santa Claus. This year marks the 100th year for the Santa’s letters program.

Pat Koch says the program has thrived over the years thanks to the help of many people:

The first 20 visitors on December 1st will get a free commemorative pin in honor of the anniversary. Postmaster James Martin and Santa Jim Yellig are featured on the pins. Martin was the postmaster who started the letter program back in 1914. Meanwhile, Yellig was the original Santa who put in many hours to answer children’s letters.

Now volunteers are still being sought to answer letters this year. Koch says this year will likely be another busy year for answering letters:

For more information or to volunteer, you can go online to santaclausmuseum.org. You can also call 812-544-2434.

Koch and Greg Martin (James Martin’s great-grandson) will be signing copies of the book Santa Claus on December 1st as well. Koch says the book contains many historical photos and local stories, including how the town was named.

Copies of the book are available for purchase at the Santa Claus Museum gift shop.