Local Coverage

A trio of Shoals residents were taken into custody earlier today following an investigation by Indiana State Police and Indiana Parole Officers.

At about 10:50 this morning, state police trooper Jarrod Lents assisted 2 Indiana Parole Officers as they did a parole search at the home of 47-year-old Darren Bruce Stone in the 15000 block Darren Bruce Stoneof Ivy Lane in Shoals. 32-year-old Julie Lents of Shoals met officers at the door. Lents told them that she along with 20-year-old Katie Stone-Payne (also of Shoals) were the only 2 people at home. After doing a protective sweep of the residence, trooper Lents found Darren Bruce Stone hiding behind a shower curtain in the shower.

While inside the residence, officers found a loaded .22 caliber handgun, marijuana roaches, and other drug paraphernalia in plain sight. Stone was not allowed to have a firearm because police say he is a convicted serious violent felon.

Julie LentsAfter getting a search warrant for the residence and outbuildings from the Martin County Prosecutor’s Office, officers found 2 baggies of marijuana, a straw that had methamphetamine in it, and additional drug paraphernalia items.

Stone, Lents, and Payne were all taken into custody and booked into the Martin County Jail. Each of them are facing Level 5 felonies for possession of methamphetamine with a firearm along with Level 6 felonies for illegal possession of a syringe, Class A misdemeanors for possession of marijuana, and Class B misdemeanors for possession of paraphernalia.

Katie Stone-PayneStone and Payne are each facing Level 6 felonies for maintaining a common nuisance while Lents is charged with a Class B misdemeanor for visiting a common nuisance. Lents is also facing a Class A misdemeanor for false informing. Stone is charged with a Level 4 felony for possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon.

Martin County Sheriff’s deputies also assisted Indiana State Police.

A Huntingburg woman was arrested after a reported theft from an employee at a Jasper business.

At 1:05 this afternoon, Jasper Police were called about the theft from an H&R Block employee at the Jean Rhoadsstore located in the Southgate Shopping Center. The employee told police that 44-year-old Jean Rhoads had taken a wallet from her purse while the employee had stepped away from the desk.

Police later caught up with Rhoads, who denied taking the wallet. However, police did find the wallet in her possession.

Rhoads was lodged in the Dubois County Security Center. She is facing a Class A misdemeanor for theft.

Jasper Police are warning the public about a scam involving them.

The department says a caller has been contacting people claiming to represent JPD. The caller then asks the person for their personal information.

JPD says they will never ask you for personal information over the phone. You are asked to hang up the phone immediately if you get one of these calls.

The Huntingburg Chamber of Commerce is now looking for a new executive director.

This morning, the Huntingburg Chamber Board of Directors announced that Nick Stevens is leaving his position effective January 16th. The Chamber’s board of directors and executive committee will work with him to ensure that the transition goes smoothly.

Stevens says he will be taking a sales job with a private company based in Vincennes. He says when the company approached him about the job, it became an opportunity that he couldn’t pass up:

Stevens has many fond memories of his 5 and a half years with the Chamber. He also says there is 1 thing that he’ll always be most proud of:

Stevens has led the Huntingburg Chamber since August of 2009. During his tenure, the Huntingburg Chamber’s membership grew from 100 to 150. Stevens also created the Garden Gate Jazz, Art, Wine, and Craft Beer Festival along with overseeing numerous other projects that helped the city’s outlook.

The Huntingburg Chamber’s executive committee is now accepting resumes for anyone who might be interested in the position. Resumes can be sent to info@huntingburgchamberofcommerce.org. You can mail them to PO Box 311 in Huntingburg, zip code 47542.

For more information or questions, you can contact board president Al Mihajlovits at 639-1751.

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.