News

A new area code is on its way and folks need to be prepared.

That was the message delivered this morning at the fifth round of the Huntingburg Chamber’s Business Education Series. Pepper Mulherin with AT&T was this morning’s speaker. Topics included what the change was, how it will affect folks in our area, and how to get prepared.

Mulherin says businesses are among the primary areas of concern for phone companies as the new area code is implemented:

Mulherin says companies also remain concerned about the lack of interest in the issue from folks thus far. She says the change will happen sooner than people may think.

Huntingburg Chamber director Nick Stevens went through an area code change himself when the 7-6-5 area code was implemented in north central Indiana a little more than 10 years ago. He says the importance of being prepared for it cannot be overstated:

Now March 1st marked the beginning of a 6 month grace period for folks to get used to the dialing changes as the 9-3-0 area code is implemented. Folks are being asked during the 6 month period to begin using 10 digit dialing for all local phone calls. 7 digit dialing for calls will still work until September 6th. However, all calls will be 10 digit phone calls locally beginning on that date.

The 930 area code is being added to our area through an overlay method. Officials say that method has been used for every new area code added nationwide since 2008. The positive news about the overlay: You don’t have to change your existing phone number. New landlines will be assigned the 930 area code beginning on October 6th. That also applies to customers who move to a new location in southern Indiana at that time.

This morning, Huntingburg mayor Denny Spinner and Maura Robinson of MG Robinson Inc. announced details of an upcoming Latino summit.

The summit will be the first of its kind to be held in Dubois County. Robinson previously hosted a Latino summit in Evansville.

The city and MG Robinson are partnering together with local businesses and other community organizations to host the summit, which will be held Friday May 9th from 8:30 am to 1 pm at the Huntingburg Event Center. These include Vincennes University Jasper Campus, German American, and Toyota Manufacturing of Indiana.

Robinson says the message of acceptance will be the biggest theme of the event:

Meanwhile, Spinner says from a city standpoint, the event will be about bringing everyone together:

Several different people are scheduled to speak during the summit. These will include Reverend Denis Robinson with St. Meinrad’s School of Seminary and Theology. Maura Robinson will also speak as will Sheryl Stanton with the Southwest Dubois School Corporation.

The public is invited to attend the summit. The cost to register is 35 dollars per person, which includes materials and lunch. There are several sponsorship levels available and booth rentals for the event will cost 30 dollars.

Questions can be directed to Maura Robinson at 457-8423 or by email at maurarobinson@mgrobinsoninc.com.

Folks who use State Road 145 in southern Dubois County will have to find a new route.

The Indiana Department of Transportation says the road is closed indefinitely from the junction with Interstate 64 to the junction with State Road 64. INDOT says the closure was brought about by concerns with a bridge about 4.3 miles north of I64.

INDOT will have crews out repairing the bridge. They say once repairs are done and signed off on, the road will be reopened to traffic. In the meantime, a detour route will be available for folks. That route will use I64 as well as State Roads 37 and 64.

As always, INDOT is reminding motorists to follow posted work zone speed limits, use caution, and consider worker safety when travelling in work zones statewide.

Money for building improvements in the Northeast Dubois school corporation will soon be freed up.

Last night, the NE Dubois School Board approved the refinancing of its debt service bonds with its building corporation. The bonds would be extended 18 months and paying them off would free up roughly 840 thousand dollars for repair and improvement projects across the district over the next 3 years. The reimbursement to the building corporation for the bonds would be 3 and a half million dollars. The district’s tax rate will not change as a result of this bond refinancing and no referendum will be needed, though 2 amendments were made to the district’s lease on the middle school building.

The bond refinancing comes at a time when the capital projects fund has been on the decline due to cuts in state funding. To that end, Hochgesang told the board that the fund has become an “emergency use” only fund over the last year or so. The need for the money also came about after various repair projects, including boiler issues at the high school earlier this year, drained most of this year’s fund. Interest rates are also lower than they were when the bonds were originally issued back in 2004, yet another reason for the refinancing.

Hochgesang says it is vital for the district to be able to keep its facilities going:

Hochgesang also shared data about what other school corporations have done. Out of 294 districts across the state, 101 have either had or will have a referendum in the near future to get the necessary funding.

In other business, the board approved starting an alternative recovery program for students at the high school. Data presented by high school principal Rick Gladish last night shows an increasing number of students at the high school who are “at-risk” due to academic struggles. The data also shows the number of special education students is also on the rise.

Gladish says the program is a necessity to help those students who are struggling:

Gladish says the program would allow for students to retake courses and get the credits in a much shorter time frame than the current process. Currently, students go through the online remediation over the summer, a process Gladish argues isn’t really feasible for graduating seniors who need to get credits made up.

The program would be run by a mentor and Gladish stated that its critical to have the right person in place to run the program. He says they are looking to start the program this fall.

The city of Washington has added a new fireman and a new police officer.

Earlier this week, Washington mayor Joe Wellman held a swearing in ceremony for new fireman Steve Ford and new police officer Nicholas Durnil. The 23-year-old Ford hails from Covington, Indiana. He has served as a volunteer firefighter since turning 18. Meanwhile, the 23-year-old Durnil got into law enforcement after serving with the military police while in the Marines. He is a Washington native.

In other business, the council heard an update on the progress at the intersection of State Road 257 and US 50. More than 12 hundred people signed a petition last fall in the wake of a fatal accident at the intersection. Derrick Clarke helped to form the petition and he told the council that INDOT has made changes to the stop light at the intersection. He says there is a longer delay before the lights change and INDOT also installed overhead signs for turning onto State Road 257. More signage is being put up 1/2 mile from the intersection to warn of the stop light.

Now the intersection has proven to be one of the most dangerous ones in the area. Data going back to 1998 shows that 13 people have been killed in accidents at the intersection during that time. There have also been 109 collisions, 133 injury accidents, and 103 property damage accidents.

Human resources efforts in Daviess County have now taken a step forward.

The Daviess County commissioners have approved a contract with Waggoner, Irwin, Scheele, and Associates to help the county come up with a uniform way to deal with issues in the workplace.

The county currently operates on an employees’ manual. That manual is subject to interpretation and enforcement by up to 20 different department heads. County officials point to issues over wages and hours, worker’s comp, and the new healthcare law among others as reasons to seek the help.

Waggoner, Irwin, Scheele, and Associates currently serves 60 of Indiana’s 92 counties. That includes several here in the southwestern part of the state.

Now the county is seeking out limited help from the firm for the time being. The firm is currently being hired on an hourly basis. The contract calls for them to be used as needed at a rate between 40 and 125 dollars per hour.

The contract with the Waggoner firm was one of several the commissioners agreed to recently. Others included 2 contracts with Kim Murray for various assessments and a contract with AT and T for a new phone system at county offices.

Jasper-based Kimball International has announced its quarterly dividend.

The company says Class B common stock dividends will be at 5 cents per share while Class A common stock will be at 4 and a half cents per share. The dividends will be payable July 15th to shareowners of record as of June 25th.