Local Coverage

The Dubois County Substance Abuse Council got a lot done in 2014 despite recent issues with funding.

Last night, coordinator Janet Schnell presented a yearly update to the Dubois County Council. Schnell says the group was able to provide adequate funding across 4 different areas. These were prevention and education, treatment and intervention, criminal justice services, and discretionary funding. Funding for the council comes from court fees that are collected through arrests for drug and alcohol issues.

Schnell told the council there were several key projects funded this past year by Substance Abuse Council grants. These included breathalyzers for the Ferdinand Police Department and random drug testing for all 4 Dubois County high schools.

However, as mentioned, Schnell says funding has been a problem. For 2015, the Substance Abuse Council will only have about 29 thousand 800 dollars to work with for all 4 funding areas. That amounts to 7 thousand 450 dollars for each area.

Schnell says that’s a problem as the group continues to fight substance abuse in Dubois County. She says in addition to working on the long-running issue of alcohol abuse in both teenagers and adults, there are now other drug concerns to deal with:

Schnell says there may be a solution on the horizon however…in the form of federal funding. The Substance Abuse Council is creating a new group known as the Dubois County Communities That Care Coalition. That group will be going after grant money from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Schnell says the grant would be for 125 thousand dollars each year over a 5 year period. The first year would be used to create the coalition and year 2 would be for putting together surveys and implementing programs.

Schnell says there has been a lot of support for going after the grant money:

Schnell says the group is working with Warrick County and other local agencies to apply for the funding.

A 2 vehicle accident along US 231 in front of Sternberg Automotive on Jasper’s south side last night sent 3 people to the hospital.

Just after 7:20 last night, authorities were called to the area after a head-on collision was reported. Jasper Police say 45-year-old Carlos Frias of Jasper had been going north on US 231 when he hit a patch of ice and lost control of his vehicle. Frias’ vehicle then went left of center and into the path of a vehicle driven by 59-year-old Rod Zink of Ferdinand. Zink could not react in time and the vehicles collided head-on.

Police say Frias complained of leg pain while a passenger in his vehicle (34-year-old Jaime Gonzalez of Jasper) complained of upper body pain. Both were taken to Memorial Hospital by ambulance for treatment. Zink was also taken to Memorial Hospital for treatment of hip and leg pain.

Both vehicles were totalled in this crash. US 231 was closed for more than an hour while the accident scene was cleared.

The Jasper Fire Department, Dubois County Sheriff’s deputies, Indiana State Police, Dubois County EMS, and wreckers from Uelbehor’s and Sternberg’s also assisted.

Now other accidents were reported this morning due to slick road conditions. The most dangerous area was the Haysville bridge at the Dubois and Martin county lines with a slideoff that closed lanes to traffic. Another report came in earlier this morning from the westbound lanes of Interstate 64 about 3 miles east of the Ferdinand exit. 2 injuries were initially reported in that crash.

Administrators and faculty members are applauding the efforts of students in making Jasper Middle School the sucess story it has become.

Last night middle school principal Dave Hubster, Assitant Principal Phil Tolbert, Guidence Counselor Tiffany Maxey and Cassie Williams, a special education teacher appeared before the Greater Jasper School Board. The group provided the board an overview of how the school has become so successful.

Their presentation included the role technology plays in everyday teaching and the use of technology to improve student learning and experiences. Other parts of the presentation covered different types of remediation for students and the impact of extracurricular activities.

Hubster says that so much focus is put into a classroom. However, he says if faculty and staff can get kids to buy in and see there is more to school than just book work, they will feel more connected and will try harder to do well.

Hubster says school staff coordinate many programs that makes school more fun for students…

Hubster also gave a brief rundown of JMS’ ISTEP results in both Language Arts and Math. He says student learning in both areas is getting better:

Hubster says different changes are implemented in technology, instruction and curriculum in order to reach those goals.

In other business, Greater Jasper Superintendent Dr Tracy Lorey told the board the corporation has received notices from the Department of Local Government Finance for the 2015 budget. Lorey told the board in spite of less funding for capital projects than last year due to the neutralization of the corporation’s pension bonds, the DLGF’s report was good news all around.

Lorey also noted the district’s assesed value saw an increase of just under 21-million 400-thousand dollars which aided in lowering the districts tax rate to just over $1.07 per 100 dollars of assessed value.

Lorey says all in all they feel the corporation had a very strong finish to 2014 and says the 2015 budget looks very promising.

2 people were arrested in separate theft cases at Jasper businesses yesterday.

The first report came from Holiday Foods at around 11:25 am. Jasper Police say employees of Holiday Foods had detained 34-year-old Ryan Braunecker of Huntingburg for shoplifting. Police say Ryan Braunecker

Braunecker had tried to steal a can of tobacco worth $1.79. He later admitted to stealing a can of tobacco worth $4.65 from the store on Friday. Braunecker was booked into the Dubois County Security Center on a Class A misdemeanor for theft.

Amy DurcholzThen at 2:10 yesterday afternoon, JPD was called to the north side Walmart for yet another attempted theft from that store. After arriving there, police found that 46-year-old Amy Durchholz of Jasper had tried to steal baby items, other food items, and yarn valued at just over 67 dollars. Police also found that Durchholz had been involved in other shoplifting incidents at the store.

Durchholz was arrested and booked into the Dubois County Security Center. She is charged with theft and criminal trespass.

Durchholz was also banned from Walmart due to the other shoplifting incidents.

A pair of scams that happened yesterday have authorities warning residents to be on the alert.

The scams were first reported at around 10:30 yesterday morning. Dubois County Sheriff’s deputies say a rural Holland couple was contacted by a scammer portraying himself as their grandson. Deputies say the scammer had enough personal information to convince them that their grandson had been taken into custody in Mexico City on drug charges. The couple were told that the grandson needed just under 12 hundred dollars to bond out of jail and they needed to send the money via Western Union. Convinced that it was their grandson, the couple wired the money.

A short time later, deputies say the couple received a second call from the person who had them speak with his supposed attorney. The attorney stated they needed to send another thousand dollars in attorney’s fees. At that point, the couple realized they were being scammed. That was confirmed when they called another family member, who told them their grandson was fine.

However, this scam was not the only one reported yesterday. The sheriff’s department says a resident was called on her cellphone early yesterday morning by someone claiming to represent the IRS. The woman was told that her son owed back taxes and the Sheriff’s department would be showing up at her house to arrest her son on tax warrants if the taxes were not paid.

Now the sheriff’s department is issuing a pair of reminders with this story. First of all, the department says scammers will not have all of your personal information and can be very convincing at times. You are encouraged to simply hang up the phone.

Secondly, sheriff’s deputies say the IRS will never contact you by phone about back taxes and sheriff’s deputies will not come to your house to make arrests on tax warrants.

The Mid-States Corridor Project continues to move along, but project leader Hank Menke says a little extra funding won’t hurt.

Over the next few weeks, Menke will be travelling around to Jasper, Huntingburg, and Ferdinand to ask for each municipality to chip in some more money for the project. Menke says he isn’t necessarily looking for a large amount of money. He says the money is mostly needed just to keep things moving:

Now the project was given Tier 2 status last year by the state’s Blue Ribbon Commission for Transportation. The Tier 2 status means the highway is slated to be built within 5 to 10 years.

Menke says though the economic development benefits are great for the area, he is also concerned about safety in light of major accidents along US 231 in recent years:

The most recent major accident along the highway claimed the life of 60-year-old Susan Grundhoefer of Dale last month.

Menke says the Mid-States Corridor group is still closely monitoring the construction of Interstate 69. He remains confident that stretch of highway will be finished. Menke also says communities such as Washington are already reaping the benefits of having an interstate. Several major companies have built along the highway and a new project that would add a warehouse, a railroad branch line, and infrastructure to the area is still in the works.

Menke says the Mid-States Corridor group can learn a lot from that development:

Menke says now is the best time to keep pushing for the Mid-States Corridor with all of the local representatives who are in the Statehouse. He says though he still wants the highway to be interstate grade, he is willing to wait for the interstate designation.

Sunday sales of alcohol continues to be a hot topic at the Indiana Statehouse.

Just last week, the project received new support in the Indiana Senate. Senate leadership stated that if a bill makes it to his chamber that he will not block it.

The bill to allow sales was co-authored by House Public Policy Chair Tom Dermody. The new bill would allow grocery, pharmacy, and liquor stores to be open on Sundays from 10 am to 6 pm to sell liquor. The bill has met with some opposition from liquor store owners. They say they wouldn’t make enough money in Sunday hours to be able to pay their employees.

District 48 State Senator Mark Messmer says the bill has a real chance to go further than previous versions have:

Messmer says inconsistencies need to be ironed out before the bill makes it to the Senate for review.

The bill is expected to come before the full House within the next couple of weeks.