Online Survey for NE Dubois Study Now Available

The next step has arrived for the Northeast Dubois School Corporation’s feasibility study.

Northeast Dubois officials have announced the launch of the online survey that will be used as part of the study. The study can be accessed online at the Dubois Public Library from 10 am to 8 pm Mondays through Thursdays, 10 am to 5 pm on Fridays and from 10 am to 2 pm on Saturdays. Paper copies of the survey will also be made available at the Northeast Dubois School Corporation offices as well. The study will be conducted through November 6th.

Now the school board recently hosted 2 community forums to gather input for this study. Superintendent Bill Hochgesang stated then that the online survey would play a big role in building off of what the board heard from the public:

School officials are hoping to have the study done by late December with findings to be made public at the board’s January meeting.

ISTEP+ Cut Score Continues to Concern Local Educators

Local educators continue to be concerned with ISTEP+ scores for this year as the State Board of Education says there were differences between the online and paper versions of last school year’s test.

In a news release, SBOE vice chair Sarah O’Brien said a review of last year’s test was done by CTB McGraw-Hill and their report was subsequently reviewed by a team of independent experts. O’Brien says the independent experts found small but significant differences in test difficulty. She also says the SBOE will be able to move forward with issuing a single cut score for the 2014-2015 test with the addition of a few bonus points for students that took the test online.

Locally, the ISTEP+ exam was a big discussion topic at last night’s Greater Jasper School Board meeting. Curriculum director Kim Strobel told the board that district scores could be down anywhere between 15 and 20 points in various test categories this year. Strobel also stated the test results would not come for several more months.

Earlier this year, Greater Jasper superintendent Dr. Tracey Lorey stated that issues with the ISTEP would be a big deal considering how the test affects teacher and school evaluations. Lorey stated that needs to be changed:

Concerns have also been expressed in other area schools.

Now the State Board of Education had been set to vote on the cut scores at their regular meeting earlier this month. However, O’Brien says that vote was delayed because the CTB discrepancy report was not made available to them until the night before the October 14th meeting.

Meanwhile, Glenda Ritz’s office has argued that the board still had enough information to vote on pass/fail scores and suggested the delay was a Pence administration effort to score political points against Ritz.

2 Escape Serious Injury in Near Head-On State Road 56 Collision

Authorities say a pair of area residents are lucky to have minor injuries after a near head-on collision along State Road 56 in western Dubois County.

Just after 5:30 pm yesterday, Dubois County Sheriff’s deputies say 52-year-old Darrel Kelsey of Velpen was headed eastbound on State Road 56 when he either blacked out or had a seizure. Kelsey’s vehicle went left of center and collided with a westbound pickup truck being driven by 58-year-old William Russell of Washington. Authorities say the collision came very close to being a head-on hit.

Deputies say both Kelsey and Williams complained of pain, but refused medical treatment. Both vehicles were total losses and State Road 56 was blocked for about half an hour as the accident scene was being cleared.

The Ireland Fire Department, Memorial Hospital EMS and wreckers from Sternberg’s and Uelbehor’s also assisted.

German American Announces Merger with River Valley Bancorp

Jasper-based German American Bancorp has expanded its footprint across Southern Indiana.

In a news release, company officials say the bank has entered into a definitive agreement to merge River Valley Bancorp into German American. Under the terms of the agreement, River Valley common shareholders will get 0.770 shares of German American common stock for each share of River Valley common stock along with a cash payment of $9.90 per River Valley share. The exchange is tax free.

GAB officials say the exchange has a value of $33 per River Valley share, which represents a 47% premium over the closing price of River Valley’s common stock shares. The math is based on closing stock prices of common shares as of this past Friday, October 23rd.

Now German American is expecting to issue about 1.94 million shares of its common stock and pay about $25 million in cash for all issued and outstanding common shares and outstanding options of River Valley.

In all, the merger has an aggregate indicated value of about $83.5 million. The basic transaction will also feature about $500,000 in cash payments that will be made in cancellation of stock options.

The merger is set to be completed early next year.

National Office Furniture Santa Claus Facility Re-Certified as ‘STAR’ Indiana VPP Site

The Indiana Department of Labor has announced that National Office Furniture’s Santa Claus facility has achieved re-certification in the Indiana Voluntary Protection Program as a “STAR” site.

Indiana VPP sites are recognized as leaders in workplace safety and health and commended for their success in proactively protecting Hoosier workers.

In a news release, Indiana Department of Labor Commissioner Rick Ruble says VPP certification is an achievement that does not come easy and requires the hard work and diligence of both management and employees. Ruble says the department of labor congratulates and is pleased to continue it’s partnership with National Office for worker safety and health excellence.

To participate in VPP, a company must develop, implement and maintain an exemplary worker safety and health management system and complete a comprehensive workplace safety and health audit conducted by department of labor staff and safety professionals from a pool of Special Government Employees. Additionally, the site’s workplace injury and illness rates must be below the national industry average for its respective industry. Worker injury and illness rates at National Office Furniture’s Santa Claus location are more than 60 percent below the national industry average. To date, 75 Indiana workplaces have achieved VPP certification—with 73 of these sites achieving “STAR” certification.

Employing over 300 workers, National Office Furniture manufactures wood laminate and veneer office furniture in Santa Claus. Last year, over 323,000 articles of furniture were manufactured at the location. National Office Furniture is also a member of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s Indiana Environmental Stewardship Program.

The work site has not had lost a work day case so far this year.

Seitz Plan for EDIT Funds Causes Stir With Council

Jasper mayor Terry Seitz has unveiled a strategic plan for the use of EDIT funds in the city.

Seitz made his pitch this morning during a public meeting in the council chambers at Jasper City Hall. The analysis, which was done by Umbaugh and Associates, states goals of leveraging city EDIT funds, sustaining a healthy EDIT reserve and projecting the potential EDIT funds that might be available for bonding.

Mayor Seitz also pointed out that the city has been conservative with EDIT usage recently. The city is projected to spend around $1.2 million of its EDIT reserves in 2016. That reserve is currently at $4.7 million according to clerk-treasurer Juanita Boehm.

Now several members of the Jasper City Council were on hand this morning and the presentation was the first time that they viewed the document. Councilman Kevin Manley was among those who expressed concern, saying the 5 year timeline presented is a tall order for the city to follow:

Meanwhile, Seitz argued that long-term plans for using EDIT funds are needed in light of the many projects going on in Jasper:

Some of those projects would include work at the Parklands property, matching funds for a state trail grant and the Jasper Lofts and Vine Street Lofts housing project among others.

Of course, this morning’s plan was a public proposal. Seitz says it could be presented at upcoming board and council meetings.

Dubois Woman Rolls Vehicle, Lands in Jail on DUI Charge

Dubois County Sheriff’s deputies jailed a Dubois woman over the weekend following a one vehicle accident caused by her driving drunk.

Sheriff’s deputies were called to Cuzco Road North north of Cuzco Norton Road at 10:50 Saturday night. Deputies say 32-year-old Shawn Fox had been going southbound on Cuzco Road North when she came up on a curve and encountered an oncoming vehicle. The driver of the other vehicle told police that Fox was driving in their lane of travel as she went around the curve.
Shawn Fox

Fox immediately swerved to the right after crossing the center line and drove off of the right side of the road into an embankment. Her vehicle then rolled over onto its roof and came to rest facing south partly on the roadway and partly in the ditch.

Fox was treated on scene for minor facial injuries. Deputies found that she had been drinking and a blood draw at Memorial Hospital found her BAC to be .15%, nearly twice the legal limit. Additionally, she tested positive for marijuana.

Fox was booked into the Dubois County Security Center on OWI charges. Sheriff’s deputies were assisted by Dubois First Responders, Dubois County EMS and a wrecker from Uelbehor and Sons.