Local Coverage

A new report released earlier today finds that Dubois County is still among the healthiest in Indiana.

The report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute ranked Dubois County 5th out of 92 Indiana counties. That’s up from 6th last year.

In a news release, Dubois County Health Department administrative director Donna Oeding says this report is an important one because it helps the department identify factors affecting residents while comparing those to other counties in the state.

Oeding also points to the Dubois County Public Health Partnership as an example of how collaboration has made a strong impact on the county’s health ranking. Members of the partnership include Memorial Hospital, Kimball International, VUJC, Jasper Engines and Transmissions, and Crisis Connection among many others.

Now Dubois County ranked 5th in both health outcomes and health factors. The health outcomes ranking is based on measures of length of life and quality of life. Meanwhile, the health factors ranking is based on four factors, which are health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment factors.

Among other local counties, Warrick County was the only other county to rank in the top 20 in 19th. Spencer County came in 25th, Martin County 44th, and Daviess County cracked the top 50 in 49th.

Meanwhile, other counties did not fare very well in these rankings. Perry County came in 70th, Pike County 81st, Orange County 82nd, and Crawford County was 85th.

The full report is available by going online to countyhealthrankings.org.

Tomorrow will mark a historic day for the city of Huntingburg.

Miller-Valentine Group and TRI-CAP will be hosting a groundbreaking ceremony for the ongoing conversion of the former St. Joseph’s Hospital building into senior living units. Work on the project has been underway since last week.

The groundbreaking ceremony will take place at 10:30 tomorrow morning at 1900 Medical Arts Drive in Huntingburg. Mayor Denny Spinner says the project will be important to the city in more ways than one:

Spinner says the hospital project is also a major part of the Stellar Communities process. He says the project was originally slated as one of the Stellar projects, but progress moved ahead of the Stellar process, thus this became a standalone effort.

Spinner says in addition to Pete Schwiegeraht and project firm Miller-Valentine Group, there are several other people who deserve credit:

Tomorrow’s ceremony will feature numerous speakers including Spinner, TRI-CAP Executive Director Joyce Fleck, and 8th District Congressman Larry Bucshon among others.

Now the new development will be known as ‘The Lofts at St. Joseph’s’. Miller-Valentine says this is the first tax credit development tailored to adults age 55 and older to be built in Dubois County. In all, there will be 45 senior living units created from a 30 thousand square foot portion of the former hospital building and a brand new building on adjacent land.

There is also a significant economic development impact from this project. Miller-Valentine says The Lofts at St. Joseph’s is expected to generate nearly 4 million dollars for the local economy while creating 68 new jobs.

For more information, you can go online to YourNextPlacetoLive.com.

A Jasper woman wound up in jail after crashing near the Huntingburg Airport Wednesday afternoon while driving under the influence with a toddler in the vehicle.

At 3:30 yesterday afternoon, Dubois County Sheriff’s deputies were called to an area along US 231 just south of the airport. Sheriff’s deputies say 32-year-old Rebecca Long had been going northbound on the Rebecca Longhighway at the time of the crash. Long told deputies she was trying to pull over to let her 3-year-old son use the bathroom when she lost control of her car and hit a ditch. Damage to Long’s vehicle was estimated between 2 and 5 thousand dollars.

During the investigation, deputies found that Long had been driving under the influence of alcohol and possibly other substances. Long failed a field sobriety test and a blood draw at Memorial Hospital found that her BAC was .22 percent, nearly 3 times the legal limit.

Long was arrested and booked into the Dubois County Security Center. She is facing a felony for OWI Endangerment. Deputies say the charge is a felony since her son was in the vehicle with her when the crash happened.

Huntingburg Police and a wrecker from KARS also assisted.

A Huntingburg couple will have to stay somewhere else for awhile after their home was damaged by an overnight fire.

Just before 9 o’clock this evening, the Huntingburg Volunteer Fire Department was called to the Jim Gatwood residence in the 100 block of East 22nd Street. Huntingburg assistant fire chief Glen Kissling says the fire was reported by a passerby. Kissling says Huntingburg Police contacted Gatwood to inform him of the fire as there was nobody home at the time it started.

Kissling also says crews were able to identify the cause of the blaze:

Kissling says by the time fire crews arrived, the fire had spread from the basement to the 1st floor and part of the 2nd floor of the home. Kissling says the house sustained heavy smoke
damage throughout along with structural damage to a bathroom above the laundry room. He says all of that damage likely makes the home unlivable for the foreseeable future.

Nobody was hurt in this fire. Fire crews were on scene for more than 2 hours. Huntingburg Police, Dubois County Sheriff’s deputies, Memorial Hospital EMS and Huntingburg Utilities also assisted.

The city of Jasper is entering a contest to be one of the best communities in the country.

City officials announced this afternoon that the city has assembled a group of leaders to enter Jasper into the America’s Best Communities Contest. The contest is being sponsored by Frontier Communications along with DISH Network and CoBank.

Now a total of $10 million in prize money will be given away to small towns and cities in 27 states where Frontier has customers. The money goes toward supporting growth and revitalization plans. Jasper is 1 of 18 Indiana communities that are entered in this contest.

In a news release, Jasper mayor Terry Seitz says the program serves as an opportunity to work towards the implementation of the Downtown Riverfront Master Plan. Seitz says members of the team have been recruited from the public, private, and charitable sectors for this effort. The team includes members from the Japer Office of Community Development and Planning, the Redevelop Old Jasper Action Coalition (ROJAC), the Jasper Chamber of Commerce, Dubois Strong, the Dubois County Community Foundation, and the Vincennes University Jasper Campus. 5 area businesses will also be represented on the team. These are Kimball International, Finishing Touches, Matrix Integration, Jasper Engines and Transmissions, and German American Bancorp.

Now the process is spread out over about 2 years. Contest judges will select up to 50 qualified communities from across the nation. Each of the 50 will then get $50,000 to develop plans and proposals. Final proposals will be due in September of this year.

In November of this year, judges will select up to 15 semifinalists to present proposals at the America’s Best Communities summit in January of next year. After the presentations, 8 finalists will be selected and will get $100,000 to implement plans. A total of $6 million in grand prizes will then be awarded to the top 3 contestants in October of 2017.

Major hiring is set to take place at NSWC Crane this year.

Yesterday, Crane officials announced that the base will be hiring more than 350 new employees during the current fiscal year. The base says authorization to hire more employees was granted by NAVSEA due to a rise in workload demand and the need to have enough employees to fulfill the base’s mission.

The hirings will also add a few government employees to the base. The base will be hiring people in several different career fields, which include Acquisition/Contracting, Business, Chemistry, Human Resources, Information Technology, and Project Management among several others.

To apply, you can go online to usajobs.gov. Crane officials say several jobs are already posted there and the site will be updated throughout the year.

NSWC Crane is the 3rd largest naval base in the world. The $1.5 billion business base supports the Navy by leveraging technical capabilities to support warfighters in the ever changing combat environment.

Town officials in Holland are preparing for a major project along Kentucky Street to get underway.

In a news release, Holland town board president Tom Thacker says signage has now been put up in the area and silt fences are being installed. Thacker says project contractor Blankenberger Brothers is also set to bring in equipment this week. However, he says the work will not begin until next week.

The project, which has been in the works for about 5 years, aims to widen Kentucky Street between Holland Road Southwest and State Road 161 in order to get heavy truck traffic off of other town streets including Main Street.

Now utilities work on the project began in February of last year. At that time, Thacker outlined the future impacts of this project on Holland:

Thacker says the project will take the entire summer to complete. He says once work begins next week, Kentucky Street will be closed to all traffic except for residents living on that street.

20 percent of the work will be funded by the town of Holland and Dubois County. The remaining 80 percent is being funded through grants from the Federal Highway Administration.