The court fight between the city of Jasper and Healthy Dubois County over the conversion of the city’s power plant to biomass drags on.
Late last week, Judge Sherry Gregg Gilmore issued a partial summary judgment in favor of the city of Jasper. The ruling comes following a request by city attorneys to limit the new trial to only the allegations that were not a part of the first trial.
The ruling means that six executive sessions included in the original open door complaint made by defendant Healthy Dubois County back in August of 2011 will no longer be included in the proceedings of the new trial. The new trial also was rescheduled as a part of the decision. The trial will now be held on April 15th and 16th of next year rather than on the originally scheduled dates of January 14th and 15th. The new trial had been set following a successful appeal of Judge Lucy Goffinet’s original ruling in favor of the city of Jasper.
Back in January of 2012, Goffinet ruled that the executive sessions in question did not violate the Indiana Open Door Law as Healthy Dubois County had charged. She also refused the group’s request for more discovery concerning a volunteer group that met as few as 13 and as many as 15 times during negotiations with Jay Catasien to lease the plant to Twisted Oak Corporation of Atlanta, Georgia. Healthy Dubois County appealed concerning the volunteer group and that appeal was granted by the Indiana Court of Appeals and thus the new trial was set for January of next year.
Now back in October, Judge Gilmore heard arguments on both sides concerning a request to limit the scope of the trial. HDC attorney Too Keller of Carmel-based law firm Keller Macaluso told the court at the time that the appellate court’s decision allowed for a new trial to take place. He further argued that the six executive sessions should be included in the trial due to the role played by the volunteer group. Meanwhile, city of Jasper attorney Greg Neibarger of Bingham Greenebaum Doll argued that the volunteer group should be the sole subject of the trial and the executive sessions should be excluded.
In a statement, Jasper Utility Service board chairman Wayne Schuetter says the board is happy to receive the decision in their favor. He further says the board appreciates the judge’s diligence and thoroughness.
Motorists driving north along the new Interstate 69 near Crane have had to get off of the highway fairly quickly over the last year. However, officials with the Indiana Department of Transportation says work on Section 4 of the highway is holding close to schedule.
Section 4, which is set to link Crane to State Road 37 in Bloomington, is continuing to be built according to INDOT spokeswoman Cher Elliott. In the meantime, drivers making the northern trip along the highway have been forced to drive along curvy two lane highways in order to continue northward through the construction zone.
Elliott says the geography of the area where Section 4 is being built has proven to be a bit more difficult for workers than the initial sections:
Elliott also says weather has played a factor this year. She says weather plays a big role in construction season:
The increase in precipitation has brought a delay in the project. Elliott says the rain has mostly caused problems as crews are doing dirt work to get the area ready for a paved highway, which is something that cannot be done in rainy weather.
Elliott says some of Section 4 will be open on schedule, but some of it may not open to traffic until 2015.
Now Section 4 of the highway will also include the addition of several new interchanges according to Elliott. These will be State Road 45, State Road 445, and State Road 37 on the south side of Bloomington. An interchange with US 231 in Greene County was added as part of the finishing work on Section 3 of the project.
A Huntingburg man was arrested early this morning after it turns out that he never had a driver’s license.
Huntingburg Police stopped a vehicle driven by 57-year-old Celestino Rivas at about 2:30 this morning after he was found driving left of center in an area around West 6th Street and County Road 400 West.
Rivas told police that he had never had a driver’s license. He did provide police with an Indiana identification card, which police ran through Dubois County Dispatch. Dispatch told police that Rivas indeed had never been licensed and only had the state-issued ID.
Rivas was taken into custody and was lodged in the Dubois County Security Center. He is charged with Operating a Motor Vehicle Without Ever Receiving a License.
BLOOMFIELD, Ind. (AP) – One of two men accused of killing a 19-year-old southwestern Indiana woman and dumping her body in a lake has pleaded guilty in the case.
Under a deal with prosecutors, 26-year-old Jordan Buskirk of Jasonville pleaded guilty Tuesday in Greene Superior Court to charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit rape and criminal confinement in the death of Katelyn Wolfe of Linton.
Authorities say Wolfe was reported missing by her father on June 6, a day after she was last seen in Linton, about 30 miles southeast of Terre Haute. Her body was found four days later in a rural lake.
Buskirk has agreed to testify in the May trial of 25-year-old co-defendant Randal Crosley of Jasonville.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Democratic schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz and other members of the Indiana State Board of Education are meeting with a mediator called in to help with the state’s ongoing education battles.
The group planned to meet Wednesday morning with officials from the National Association of State Boards of Education. Ritz and Republican Gov. Mike Pence agreed last week to bring in the national leaders after disagreements escalated.
Ritz stormed out of a board meeting last month after a Pence-appointed member pressed a measure Ritz said would shift power from her office. She previously sued other board members alleging violation of the state’s public access laws.
Ritz is chairwoman of the education board, but the other 10 members have been appointed by either Pence or former Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels.
After months of financial strain and uncertainty, the Dubois County Community Corrections program has received a shot in the arm from the state.
Yesterday, center director J.P. Weisheit informed the Dubois County Commissioners that the center received 200-thousand dollars from the Indiana Department of Corrections to help carry the county’s work-release program through the rest of its fiscal year, which ends in June.
Dubois Superior Court Judge Mark McConnell who presides over the community corrections advisory board was pleased with the news.
Before the state stepped in, McConnell had sought help from the county. Last month, he asked the commissioners to pay the health costs of the center’s 16 full-time employees.
The move, if approved, would cost the county more than $200,000 a year. The commissioners still are weighing whether to approve the request.
Officials say the extra money from the state is a brief respite and will keep the center afloat for several months before financial strains are expected to resurface.
In addition to state funding, the program also relies on fees from offenders. But in recent months, the number of offenders has leveled off.
In the past, as many as 250 people have been enrolled in the program. Now, that number is closer to 200. Fewer offenders means fewer fees, McConnell noted.
Last week, the Dubois County Council revealed that more than $600,000 in program fees has gone uncollected since 2006.
Officials say in some cases, an offender’s wages are garnished to pay child support. The community corrections program also can garnish wages, but child support gets first crack. After child support is paid, there isn’t much left to garnish.
Correction center officials are looking to hire a collections agency to help recover fees that are still owed to the program .
Actions, activities and processes that are part of the City of Jasper’s overall economic development strategy will be shared next week during a meeting of the Jasper Economic Development Commission.
City officials, department heads, civic and business leaders and the general public are invited to hear a presentation by Mayor Terry Seitz during the meeting that’s set for 8 till 8:30 am next Thursday, Dec. 12, in the City Hall council chambers. A welcome reception will begin at 7:30 a.m.
Seitz says that for more than a year city officials have been delighted to hear guests, contractors and city staff come to City Hall and proclaim the words, ‘Jasper has so much going on.’ the mayor says this phrase accurately reflects forward movement in the city and on the city’s overall economic development strategy.
Seitz said he recently shared some of what will constitute his upcoming presentation with Andy Seger, president of the city’s economic development council, and they decided it would be ideal to share the same information with the entire commission and the public at large.