Mihajlovits Retiring as SW Dubois Transportation Director; 2016 Budget Approved

A longtime teacher and administrator in the Southwest Dubois School corporation has decided to call it a career.

Recently current Holland Elementary Principal and corporation Transporation Director Al Mihajlovits submitted his letter of resignation to the Southwest Dubois School Board who accepted his retirement during thier monthly meeting Thursday Night. His retirement will be effective at the end of the current school year.

The 67-year old is a native of Hungary. In 1956 Al, his parents and brother escaped to the United States during the Hungarian Revolution and settled in upstate New York.

Mihajlovits attended Normal College which was affiliated with Indiana University spending two years in Indianapolis followed by two years at the IU campus in Bloomington graduating in 1971.

After spending a couple of years at a school corporation outside of Syracuse, New York where he grew up, Mihajlovits earned his masters from Syracuse University. In 1973 he and his wife Andrea, a native of Vincennes, moved to Dubois County where he joined the Southwest Corporation.

In his 43 years, Mihajlovits was first hired to teach US History, Health and Physical Education at Southridge High School where he started the Southridge Wrestling Program.

In the late 1980’s he moved into administration as an assistant principal at Southridge High and then as administrative assistant at the central office. He later moved to Southridge Middle School and served as principal of 22 years before going back to the central office after being named the corporation’s Transporation Director about 2 years ago. He also currently serves as principal of Holland Elementary School.

Needless to say Mihajlovits has held many different positions during his career. A career he considers unique….

After accepting his resignation, Southwest Dubois Superintedent Mike Eineman as well as board members thanked Mihajlovits for his many years of service. Eineman says Mihajlovits has been a true asset to the corporation….

Once agian Mihajlovits’ retirement is effective at the end of this school year. Al and Andrea, a retired elementary teacher at Huntingburg Elementary are the parents of 3 grown children and plan to stay in the area however he says future plans include traveling, relaxing and a lot of golf.


Also last night the Southwest Dubois School Corporation became the latest public entity to put the final touches on thier district’s next spending plan

The Southwest Board granted final approval and will seek a total 2016 budget of just under 12 and a half million dollars ($12,461,105) up slightly from this past year. This year’s tax rate for the Southwest Dubois district is $2.62 per 100 dollars of assessed value.

Superintedent Mike Einmann first presented those figures to the Board in August. A public hearing was held last month with no comment before recieving final approval last night.

Eineman says he was pleased with the process of crafting next year’s spending plan and is hopeful it will meet the corporation’s needs….

The Southwest Dubois budget is broken down into serveral different catagories including debt service, school pension, referendum debt, capital projects, transportation and bus replacement.

It will now be sent to the department of local government finance for final approval.


And last night the Southwest Dubois School Board recognized the corporation’s Students of the Month. They include:

Kate Boeglin, a kindergarten student at Holland Elementary School,

Huntingburg Elementary Fifth Grader Brice King,

Madison Songer, a 7th Grader at Southridge Middle School,

and Payton Mattingly, a senior at Southridge High School.

Jasper Woman Attempts to Escape After Burglary Call, Lands in Jail on DUI Charge

Jasper Police took a woman into custody early this afternoon after she attempted to burglarize an apartment..and then drove drunk to get away from the law.

JPD officers were called to Geoplex Apartment 103 in the 400 block of Kirkwood Drive on Jasper’s north side just before 12:45 pm on a possible burglary in progress. Before officers arrived, a witness told police that a woman (40-year-old Christina Hess of Jasper) had left the area and was driving a white Chrysler.
Christina Hess

A short time later, police found Hess’ vehicle at Save-A-Lot and confronted her. Hess admitted to officers she had driven to the location. Officers suspected that Hess was driving under the influence of alcohol. A field test found that her BAC was .223% or almost 3 times the legal limit.

Hess was booked into the Dubois County Security Center. She’s charged with a Level 6 felony for Driving Under the Influence.

Jasper Police say the charge is a felony due to a prior conviction that took place within the last 5 years.

Ackerman Wins President’s Community Excellence Award

A prominent local businessman has taken home the President’s Community Excellence Award from the Jasper Chamber of Commerce.

Ackerman Oil Company president and CEO Mike Ackerman took home this year’s award, which was presented earlier today at the Jasper Chamber of Commerce’s annual luncheon. Ackerman says the award was quite the surprise to him, but he was honored to win it:

A 1978 graduate of Jasper High School as an honors student, Ackerman was part of JHS’ Class 2A state finals football teams in 1976 and 1977. Ackerman is also a current member of the Jasper High School Football Boosters and a past member of the Jasper Band Boosters. Ackerman is also involved with the Jasper German Club, the Jasper Strassenfest Committee, the Jasper Suds Club and the Jasper Kiwanis Club among other organizations. In addition, Ackerman is a past president of the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and is a lector and eucharistic minister at Precious Blood Church.

Mike and his wife Ann have been married since 1981. The couple have a daughter Ashlyn and a son Adam, both Jasper High School graduates.

Now this year’s chamber annual luncheon had the 2nd largest crowd in the event’s history. This was the 62nd annual luncheon for the Jasper Chamber of Commerce.

Stallings Honored with Boy Scouts’ Distinguished Citizens Award

Our congratulations go out to Brenda Stallings.

The president and CEO of Matrix Integration has been presented with this year’s Distinguished Citizen Award for the Lincoln Heritage District of Boy Scouts of America. Stallings received the 23rd annual award during a dinner held last night at the Huntingburg Events Center.

Stallings says she was flattered to receive the Distinguished Citizen Award, an award whose list of past winners includes Gervase Schwenk, Dave Buehler, Hank Menke and last year’s winner Ray Snowden. Stallings also says her giving back to the community really jump-started over the last 7 years, but she says she’s trying to change things for the next generation:

Indiana University vice president for information technology and chief information officer Brad Wheeler was the keynote speaker.

Stallings has more than 35 years of experience in the technology industry. Matrix Integration’s roots go back to the early 1970s when Stallings bought ‘The Sound of Music’ music store in Jasper and a Radio Shack franchise. That led to the launching of 2 new divisions in 1979, which were The Computer Center and Commsound Telecommunications. The 2 divisions merged together back in 1997 and the new company was named Matrix Integration. The company has now grown to 4 locations and a total of 86 employees.

Of course, Matrix Integration has received its share of accolades through the years. It was named as one of the ‘Best Places to Work in Indiana’ 6 times and as one of VAR’s Top 500 largest solution providers in America 9 times.

Stallings has won several awards herself. These include the 2011 National Enterprising Woman of the Year, the Rotary Club of Jasper Athena International Award in 2013, the 2014 Champions of Diversity Award and then recently the 2015 Indiana Excellence Award.

Bucshon: Economic Growth Needs to Pick Up

8th District Congressman Larry Buschon says economic growth in the United States has slowed to a near halt over the last few years..something that needs to change for the better.

The Congressman says though many people are concerned about other issues including the Middle East and road funding, they are still concerned with their day to day living:

On the job front, the September report from the US Department of Labor shows that just 142,000 jobs were created in the United States last month. Unemployment remains steady at 5.1%.

Of course, the Dubois County economy is in better shape than some other parts of the country. The county continues to boast the state’s lowest unemployment rate at 3% as of August. Officials in Jasper and elsewhere have also taken on several projects to repurpose old buildings for other uses that can generate economic development. Some of those projects include the Jasper Lofts to be put in the former JOFCO building and the senior housing project at the former St. Joseph’s Hospital building in Huntingburg.

Bucshon says projects such as these are vital to kickstarting economies. He also says the projects are a result of forward thinking by community leaders:

As a whole, Indiana’s unemployment rate is at 4.6% or half of a percentage point below the national average. It’s the lowest unemployment rate for Indiana since 2007.

Officials: $1 Billion Road Investment Good News for Local, Statewide Infrastructure

Gov. Mike Pence is proposing a $1 billion boost in state highway funding over four years amid local and statewide criticism he’s faced over road conditions around Indiana.

Pence announced the plan Tuesday, saying he would seek legislative approval to dip into the state’s $2 billion in state reserves and for up to $150 million a year in additional highway department appropriations. Previously, the Indiana Department of Transportation told lawmakers they would need an additional $260 million a year just for maintaining existing bridges and highways.

The Republican governor has been criticized by Democrats for underfunding highway maintenance in the wake of a monthlong emergency closure of the Wildcat Creek Bridge along Interstate 65 near Lafayette, a closing that attracted national attention. More than 1 out of every 5 bridges in Indiana either has a structural defect that requires attention or is no longer functionally adequate according to the US Department of Transportation.

During a stop in Jasper yesterday 8th District Congressman Larry Bucshon lauded Pence’s plan. He says something similar is needed in Washington:

Pence says the added spending on roads and bridges could be accomplished without raising taxes, although it would cut into the level of state reserves that he has highlighted as a top achievement.

Ferdinand Council to Take Legal Action on Monster Recycling Contract

The town of Ferdinand has moved to serious measures in its attempt to recoup money from a failed contract with the now closed Monster Recycling.

Last night, the Ferdinand Town Council authorized town attorney Bill Schaneyfelt to file a lawsuit against Monster Recycling owner Paul Voegerl Sr. to get $9,000 back that the town believes they are owed due to a breach of contract. Back in August, Monster Recycling chose to end their contract with the town due to heavy financial losses. At that time, the council voted to go for $1,500 and the return of the recycling bins. Shaneyfelt then sent letters to Voegerl Sr. informing him of the council’s decision and asked for the money and bins to avoid a lawsuit. Voegerl Sr. did not respond to the letter according to the council.

Town council president Ken Sicard says a lawsuit is the only option at this point if the town wants to get its money back:

Sicard says town officials are hopeful that Voegerl Sr. will come forward with a settlement offer before the lawsuit would ever go to court.

In other business, the council approved the town’s 2016 budget. The town’s budget comes out to just over $2.4 million for next year. The tax rate will be 77 cents per 100 dollars of assessed value.

Now Sicard says the town did see growth in its assessed valuation for 2016. The assessed valuation is set at nearly $90.8 million. Sicard says there will be a roughly 20% increase in taxes collected for this year.

Sicard says state property tax caps are causing some challenges for Ferdinand. He says the town is still in decent financial shape, but there are some challenges ahead:

On a final note, last night’s meeting was the first for new police chief Lloyd Froman. The council approved several staffing changes. These were the promotions of Brian Seffernick to assistant police chief and Nathan Leuken to lead training officer. Reserve officer Eric Hopkins was also named as a new full-time probationary officer for the department.