Local Coverage

Well Bailey the potbellied pig is here to stay after all.

Last night, the Huntingburg City Council approved a new animal control ordinance that has added provisions for Vietnamese potbellied pigs and other animals. Some of those provisions include a maximum weight of 150 pounds, the animal cannot be kept outside permanently, and it must be registered annually with city code enforcement.

Bailey’s status had been in a bit of a holding pattern recently while the council debated the new ordinance. Last night was the second reading of the ordinance.

Bailey belongs to Michael and Allison Bauer. Michael says he originally bought the pig from someone in Owensboro as a surprise for Allison. Michael says its a relief to have the new ordinance in place:

Although Bailey was the main reason for the new ordinance being brought up, Huntingburg mayor Denny Spinner says it will serve other purposes too:

The Bauers originally brought the issue to light at the June 26th council meeting.

Also last night, the council approved just under 13 thousand dollars to be spent on plugging gas well heads in the city’s former gas field. An explosion in the field back on June 9th of last year destroyed a dehydration facility and led to discussions about its future.

Spinner says this move is part of an ongoing process:

Spinner says landowners will be notified prior to any work taking place. He says the work will not start until the end of farming season.

The Ferdinand Folk Festival has received national recognition.

AAA Midwest Traveler magazine has named the festival as a Midwest Travel Treasure. The festival is featured in the September/October 2014 combined issue of the magazine. The magazine goes to more than 560 thousand AAA homes in southern Indiana, southern Illinois, Missouri, and eastern Kansas.

The magazine selected the Folk Fest due to its appeal to the average AAA member. The festival also received a certificate for the designation, which is part of the magazine’s Travel Treasure series. That series is part of each bi-monthly issue.

In a news release, editor and publisher of Midwest Traveler Michael Right says he is pleased to add the Ferdinand Folk Festival to the regional list of treasures. He says the magazine’s goal is to offer events such as the Folk Fest to their readers.

The 5th annual Folk Fest is coming soon. It will be held on September 20th at Ferdinand’s 18th Street Park.

The Folk Fest is the 2nd local festival to be honored this year by Midwest Traveler. The Jasper Strassenfest was featured in the magazine’s July/August 2014 edition.

United States Gypsum has chosen Shoals as the site for a major capital investment.

Company officials plan to invest 9 and a half million dollars in the facility. They say the return on investment was going to be at its highest in Shoals.

The investment will include building a larger warehouse and updates to machinery and equipment inside of the plant. This selection does not guarantee that a later, larger investment worth 40 million dollars will come to Shoals. The plant will still be in the running for that funding.

Now the Martin County Council previously gave a tax abatement to USG in the event that they chose to invest at Shoals. The abatement will only be applied towards the new capital investments.

No losses in current tax revenue are anticipated.

An area of land near Interstate 69 in Daviess County is now set to come under county ownership.

The Daviess County Council recently agreed to allow 385 thousand dollars to go to the county’s economic development corporation to buy 14 acres of land and the former county REMC building from the state of Indiana. The money is being taken out of the county’s Economic Development Income Tax (EDIT) funds.

Now the land will likely be used as a prime site to lure business to the I-69 corridor. The property had served as the state’s offices for I-69 over the last several years. Prior to that, it was the Daviess-Martin County REMC building.

This purchase goes along with other projects going on near the highway. One of those projects, Alliance Barrier Films, is now completed. That business cut the ribbon for its new location along I-69 back in early July. That plant was built at a cost of 25 million dollars. There are also plans in place to build a 40 to 60 thousand square foot shell building. It will be located next to the Alliance building and a CSX railroad line is also part of the plans.

Now Daviess County officials say more land sales are expected in the future. INDOT bought more land than was needed as part of the Interstate 69 building. It will now sell the land, with schools and government entities getting priority. The land would then go to adjoining landowners and the general public if buyers could not be found.

Governor Mike Pence today announced that State Representative and Jasper native Steve Braun will serve as Commissioner for the Department of Workforce Development after he concludes his term as a state representative in mid-November.

Current Commissioner Scott Sanders will continue to serve the agency as the department’s Senior Deputy Commissioner providing operational management and executive oversight of the Unemployment Insurance division.

Since 2012, Braun has served in the Indiana House of Representatives on behalf of Hoosiers in House District 24, which includes Boone and Hamilton counties. As a legislator, Braun co-authored House Bill 1002, which created the Indiana Career Council, and authored House Bill 1003, which created the Indiana Network of Knowledge governance board.

Braun says the opportunity to lead the Department of Workforce Development will allow him to serve the entire state, and says as he finishes his current term, looks forward to continuing his public service in a new capacity:

In a news release Govenor Pence says with expertise as both a public servant and a successful entrepreneur, Steve has the unique background and skills necessary to continue to drive Indiana’s workforce development and pair it with innovative career and education opportunities for Hoosiers.

Pence says under Braun’s leadership, Indiana’s Department of Workforce Development will work to align its efforts with the Indiana Career Council and Regional Works Councils in order to ensure career pathways and readiness for all Hoosiers.

Braun will appear on the ballot as a candidate for re-election this November, as the July 15 deadline to withdraw from the ballot had passed before discussions about the position at the DWD began. He will resign that seat in order to serve as the Workforce Development Commissioner if re-elected.

His brother Mike Braun of Jasper is running unopposed for for the District 63 seat of the Indiana House of Representatives.

Currently, Braun is self-employed focusing on start-ups and real estate investments. Braun founded Braun Technology Group, later Braun Consulting, in 1990, which developed data warehouse and business intelligence solutions for Fortune 1000 companies.

At its height in 2001, Braun Consulting employed more than 700 employees in 13 offices across the United States including in Indianapolis, Chicago, Boston, New York, Denver, Dallas, and Minneapolis. In 2004, Fair Isaac Group acquired Braun Consulting. Braun continued to work with the company and managed its worldwide consulting group, consisting of more than 500 consultants, until 2006.

He was awarded the Indianapolis Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” in 1998 and is a founding contributor of The Oaks Academy in Indianapolis.

The 1978 graduate of Jasper High School earned his Bachelor of Science in Economics from Harvard University. He and his wife the former Jennifer Schneider have five grown children and two grandchildren.

Braun will assume his new role on November 24th.

An area senior care agency is offering a program it says can help you through difficult discussions with older loved ones.

“The 40-70 Rule: An Action Plan for Successful Aging” is a service offered by Home Instead Senior Care in Jasper. The goal of the program is to further conversations between younger and older family members on complex life issues.

Now the 40-70 rule was originally launched in 2008 in response to the opinions of national experts. Those experts say by the time you are approaching age 40 and a loved one is approaching age 70, you should have already discussed things such as living and financial choices, health, driving, and end-of-life scenarios with those who are older.

The program is backed by Home Instead’s independent research. That research found that less than 1/3rd of families have held adequate discussions about aging and end-of-life issues.

Stacy Greener is the business development manager for Home Instead Senior Care. She says it isn’t always easy for older folks to pass the torch:

Greener says changes in the times have also led to some of the issues. She cited the example of people now working into their 60s, leaving elderly parents at home alone during the day in need of assistance.

Greener says the program will serve folks all across the county well through several different resources:

Greener says the workbook and other materials are designed not only to get the conversation started, but to come up with a plan that can make the conversations and the future go more smoothly for everyone.

Again, you can go online to 4070rule.com for more information. You can also call Home Instead Senior Care at 482-3311.

A Pike County coal mine has now officially ended operations ahead of an ownership change set for this week.

The Prosperity Mine, located just west of Petersburg, officially closed operations last Friday. The mine was built back in 1999 and began operations in 2000.

Officials with Vectren Corporation say the sale of subsidiary Vectren Fuels to Terre Haute-based Sunrise Coal LLC is set to become final tomorrow. The Prosperity mine had been operated by Five Star Mining LLC.

Now Prosperity Mine isnt the only one that is part of the sale. 2 mines located near Oaktown in Knox County are also being sold to Sunrise Coal.

In all, the three mines employed a total of 850 people. Vectren officials say the Prosperity Mine had more than 300 employees at its peak. 120 people worked at the mine prior to its closure.

Those workers at the Prosperity Mine were not offered new jobs with Sunrise Coal. Those working at the Oaktown mines were offered jobs with Sunrise.

Now Vectren says those who were not offered employment were released so they could find new work. They will be paid by Vectren through the end of this month.