Local Coverage

The Mid-States Corridor Project continues to move along, but project leader Hank Menke says a little extra funding won’t hurt.

Over the next few weeks, Menke will be travelling around to Jasper, Huntingburg, and Ferdinand to ask for each municipality to chip in some more money for the project. Menke says he isn’t necessarily looking for a large amount of money. He says the money is mostly needed just to keep things moving:

Now the project was given Tier 2 status last year by the state’s Blue Ribbon Commission for Transportation. The Tier 2 status means the highway is slated to be built within 5 to 10 years.

Menke says though the economic development benefits are great for the area, he is also concerned about safety in light of major accidents along US 231 in recent years:

The most recent major accident along the highway claimed the life of 60-year-old Susan Grundhoefer of Dale last month.

Menke says the Mid-States Corridor group is still closely monitoring the construction of Interstate 69. He remains confident that stretch of highway will be finished. Menke also says communities such as Washington are already reaping the benefits of having an interstate. Several major companies have built along the highway and a new project that would add a warehouse, a railroad branch line, and infrastructure to the area is still in the works.

Menke says the Mid-States Corridor group can learn a lot from that development:

Menke says now is the best time to keep pushing for the Mid-States Corridor with all of the local representatives who are in the Statehouse. He says though he still wants the highway to be interstate grade, he is willing to wait for the interstate designation.

Sunday sales of alcohol continues to be a hot topic at the Indiana Statehouse.

Just last week, the project received new support in the Indiana Senate. Senate leadership stated that if a bill makes it to his chamber that he will not block it.

The bill to allow sales was co-authored by House Public Policy Chair Tom Dermody. The new bill would allow grocery, pharmacy, and liquor stores to be open on Sundays from 10 am to 6 pm to sell liquor. The bill has met with some opposition from liquor store owners. They say they wouldn’t make enough money in Sunday hours to be able to pay their employees.

District 48 State Senator Mark Messmer says the bill has a real chance to go further than previous versions have:

Messmer says inconsistencies need to be ironed out before the bill makes it to the Senate for review.

The bill is expected to come before the full House within the next couple of weeks.

Several complaints of erratic driving led to a Jasper woman’s arrest on intoxication and other charges.

Just before 3:10 yesterday afternoon, Jasper Police were called about an intoxicated woman sitting inside of a parked car along St. John’s Street south of 6th Street. Before officers arrived, JPD says the driver (42-year-old Elizabeth Backer) started going northbound on St. John’s Street.

At the same time, police say a vehicle driven by 32-year-old Jason Dilger of Evansville was going east on 6th Street approaching the intersection with St. John’s Street. Witnesses told police Elizabeth BackerBacker ignored the stop sign and turned west onto 6th Street. Witnesses say Backer’s vehicle then hit a curb on the north side of 6th Street before crossing the middle lane and hitting the driver’s side of Backer’s vehicle.

Backer was taken to Memorial Hospital for a blood draw. She was found to be intoxicated with a BAC of .2 percent, 2 and a half times the legal limit.

After being medically cleared, Backer was booked into the Dubois County Security Center. She is facing driving while intoxicated, driving left of center, and failure to yield charges.

Authorities are continuing to look for a vehicle they say hit a Ferdinand Police Jeep and left the scene.

Dubois County Sheriff’s deputies and Ferdinand Police were called to 17th and Virginia Streets in Ferdinand at 1:50 yesterday morning on a reported hit and run. When they arrived, authorities say a 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee belonging to Ferdinand Police had been hit. Witnesses told police they had heard the crash and a silver vehicle left the area going northbound on Virginia Street. The police vehicle sustained more than 5 thousand dollars worth of damage and has been taken out of service.

Now authorities are looking for a slate blue or grey 1998/1999 Toyota Avalon 4 door passenger car. Police say the suspect vehicle has heavy damage to it and will be missing part of the front bumper on the passenger’s side. The vehicle also leaked out fluid as it was leaving the area.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Ferdinand Police Department or the Dubois County Sheriff’s Department. All callers may remain anonymous.

The Spencer County Regional Chamber of Commerce celebrated a big anniversary over the weekend.

Saturday night, the chamber hosted its 15th annual membership dinner in Chrisney. The dinner saw several people recognized for their efforts. Original chamber board member Gene Steinkamp was recognized as the Board Member of the Year on Saturday. Steinkamp says public service has always been important to him:

Several other awards were presented Saturday night. One of those was the Ambassador of the Year award. This year’s winner was Mary James.

The final announcement of the night may have been the biggest one for the future, however. Executive Director Debbie Barrett says she will be leaving the chamber next month. Barrett is set to take over as General Manager for Santa’s Lodge.

Barrett, who has led the chamber for the last 6 years, says a lot has been accomplished during her time as director. She says community gatherings have been the best part of her job:

The Spencer County chamber has been incorporated since 1999.

Jasper Redevelopment Commission president John Bell has announced his plan to seek the Republican nomination for District 3 on the Jasper City Council.

In a news release, Bell says he and his family love the city because it is a unique and special place to live. He says the city still needs to push forward to allow Jasper to continue growing and prospering with future businesses that are looking to either build or expand in the community.

The 49-year-old Bell is a Jasper native. Bell graduated from Purdue University and spent 7 years working at Kimball International, mostly as the Quality Assurance Manager and being a liason B&W Sittingbetween the sales and manufacturing divisions.

In 2000, Bell was hired as the Chief Operating Officer for Williams Bros. Pharmacy. He also serves as Chief Operating Officer for TrueScripts Management Services, a company that he is an owner of as part of a partnership started last year.

Bell has been very active in the community over the last 6 years. In addition to leading the Jasper Redevelopment Commisson, some of his community work has included being on the Parklands Advisory Board, the Jasper Library Building Committee, and being involved with the city’s Downtown Riverfront Master Plan.

Bell also serves on the Young Life Finance Committee and is president of the Business Network Alliance Organization. He’s a member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Jasper.

Girls on the Run serving Dubois County is starting its first season today and tomorrow.

In all, 65 girls in grades 3 through 5 will be participating this year. The girls will be taking part in after school and evening programs over the next 10 weeks designed to allow them to define their life on their own terms.

Now the after school programs will be held at 10th Street Elementary each Monday through Thursday for 10 weeks. The evening programs will be held at 5th Street Elementary on Tuesdays and Thursdays during that time.

The culmination of the first year will come in April. At that point, the girls will join running buddies to complete a 5K run to celebrate. The girls will be partnering with the Jasper Cross Country Boosters to take part in the Wildcat Runaway 5K.

Girls on the Run Serving Dubois County is an independent council of Girls on the Run International. For more information, you can go online to gotrswin.org.