News

Jasper residents will likely be seeing an increase in their wastewater bills in the near future.

Last night, the Jasper Utility Service Board approved a 13.8% rate increase for city wastewater. That amounts to roughly 5 dollars a month for the average family.

Now the rate increase is the result of a study done by Umbaugh and Associates. That study recommended a more than 16% increase, but the board voted on the lesser increase of 13.8%.

Utilities general manager Bud Hauersperger says Jasper’s wastewater rates will still be the lowest in the area even if the rate increase takes effect. Hauersperger says roughly half of the rate increase is due to an unfunded government mandate to get phosphorous levels in the city’s wastewater plant down to new EPA standards.

Hauersperger says its still too early to determine how the city will get that project done:

Of course, the town of Ferdinand is also working on its own phosphorous reduction project as mandated by the EPA.

The rate increase will be considered at the Jasper City Council’s monthly meeting coming up tomorrow night. If approved by the council, the rate increase would take effect on April 2015 utility bills.

Also last night, Hauersperger told the board that there were no viable expressions of interest received for the former Jasper Power Plant site. The deadline for those expressions was December 1st.

Hauersperger says the only interest came from salvage companies that might save parts of the building or equipment in the building. He says the city has already moved on to the next steps:

On a related note, city officials can now move forward with taking care of legal costs related to the biomass litigation surrounding the power plant. The State Board of Accounts has instructed the city to move the nearly $860,000 in legal fees through the expense cycle. That money will come out of the Operations and Maintenence Reserve Fund.

On a final note, last night’s meeting was the final one for electric commissioner Ken Sendelweck. Sendelweck is retiring after 17 years on the job.

Sendelweck was originally appointed to his job by former mayor Bill Schmitt. He received a plaque honoring his service from current mayor Terry Seitz.

Roger Seng was appointed by Seitz as the next electric commissioner. The board approved Seng’s appointment.

A national school rankings service has placed 3 local school districts among the top 100 in Indiana.

Greater Jasper, Southwest Dubois, and North Spencer schools all made the list compiled by the national review site Niche. Greater Jasper was 44th out of 100 on the list. Meanwhile, North Spencer schools placed 54th in the top 100. Southwest Dubois was ranked 74th.

Now Niche put together the rankings based on
several factors. These include weighted letter grades assigned for categories such as academics, educational outcomes, and resources and facilities along with parent and student surveys on their overall experience with a particular school district.

All of those are then factored into a final grade that is assigned by Niche. 50% of the final grade comes from the academics category while each of the other individual categories are no more than 10% of a district’s overall grade.

Greater Jasper had an overall B+ grade from Niche. Meanwhile, North Spencer and Southwest Dubois received B’s overall.

Among other area schools, Northeast and Southeast Dubois along with Pike Central schools landed just outside the top 100. All 3 districts graded out at a B minus.

Niche was founded back in 2002 by students at Carnegie Mellon University. The site was originally known as CollegeProwler.com. The site aims to provide reviews and insight from various experts to help folks decide on neighborhoods to live in and schools to send their children to.

For more information, you can go to k12.niche.com and type the name of your school district into the ‘Search’ box.

It’s been a very successful 2014 for Jasper Engines and Transmissions.

That was the message delivered by Chairman and CEO Doug Bawel during the company’s recent end of the year meeting. Bawel says the company had more than 2 thousand employees as of December 5th. He says more than 700 of them have been with the company for at least 10 years and more than 160 have been employed by Jasper Engines for at least 25 years.

Bawel also says 2014 was the best year ever for the company in terms of sales and profits. The company has set an all-time record in both categories. As a result, Bawel announced the largest contribution to the company’s 401k plan in history. Bawel says JASPER’s matching 401k amount is up 56% over last year while the total year-end contribution was up 29%.

On a related note, Bawel says there will now be quarterly opportunities for JASPER employees to enroll in the company 401k plan. Bawel says those will be open for new associates who have been working for the company for at least 6 months.

In closing, Bawel says he’s thankful for the efforts of company employees in setting records across the board. He says he is looking forward to seeing where employee stock prices are at this time next year.

Will Read and Sing For Food has announced its first scheduled show for 2015.

The group will kick off the new year on Sunday January 18th with a benefit for Habitat for Humanity of Dubois County. It will be held at the Kimball International Corporate Headquarters Auditorium beginning at 3 pm.

The show will feature special musical guests Channing and Quinn along with Jasper native and jazz musician Wade Baker. The show is also the first time that a visual artist will be featured. Jasper resident and professional photographer Jay Hamlin will be displaying his photography for this show.

Other performers include humor essayists Scott Saalman, Abbie Rumbach and Matthew Crane and musicians Ed Walston, Jessi Fulcher, Jeremy Fulcher, Megan Gatwood, Kyle Lueken and Bryan and Jaime Bolin.

Will Read and Sing for Food was launched back in October of 2011 as a fundraising effort for local charities. The group has raised nearly 33 thousand 800 dollars for local causes in that time.

There is limited seating for this show. Admission is $12 per person. Tickets can be bought at the door or you can call Scott Saalman at (812)-827-9911 to make necessary arrangements.

PETERSBURG, Ind. (AP)- The city of Petersburg has yet another new mayor.

Over the weekend, a Republican caucus selected R.C. Klipsch as the next mayor. He becomes the 3rd mayor of Petersburg since the beginning of last year.

On Jan. 1, he will take over for Frank Coleman Jr. Coleman, a retired Indiana State Police trooper, announced he was stepping down as mayor earlier this month.

The man who won his third term in the 2011 election, Jon Craig, resigned early in 2013 to become the deputy director of Indiana’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs. Coleman was tabbed as Craig’s replacement in February of that year.

Klipsch has worked in the mayor’s office under both Craig and Coleman as the city code inspector.

Pike County has been recognized for its efforts through the Indiana Farm Bureau.

The county was 1 of 7 that were honored during the IFB State Convention held in French Lick this past Friday and Saturday. Pike County was honored as 1 of 3 winners in the “public relations and education” category. The county was lauded for its county fair-based campaign to increase its public profile.

IFB specifically honored the county for its financial support of the Pike County 4H Council, purchasing of livestock in the 4H auction, and promoting farm safety to non-farm families among other efforts. Kosciusko and Franklin counties were the other 2 winners in this category.

All recognition came courtesy of IFB’s county recognition program. All 92 Indiana counties took part in the program this year.

Jasper residents can now pick up their copy of the 2015 city calendar.

City officials say the calendars are now available at 3 locations. These are at Jasper City Hall between 7:30 am and 4 pm Monday through Friday, 24 hours a day at the Jasper Police Department, or the Parks and Recreation Office and Habig Center between 8 am and 4 pm Monday through Friday.

The city provides the calendars each year to help folks determine their trash and recycling pick-up weeks. A feature page listing all pertinent trash and recycling information is included in this year’s
calendar.

The calendars are available free of charge.