Local Coverage

Motorists who use State Road 66 in southern Spencer County will have to change their route a bit over the next couple of weeks.

Officials with the Indiana Department of Transportation say starting on or around this upcoming Monday, July 20th, contractors will be closing the State Road 66 bridge that crosses Sandy Creek east of Grandview for paving. The closure will impact State Road 66 about 500 feet from either end of the bridge as crews will be doing a concrete overlay and working on bridge approaches.

Now local traffic will have access up to the point of closure. The official detour will use US 231 and State Road 70. INDOT says the project is expected to take several weeks and will be completed by mid-August, weather permitting.

As always, INDOT is urging drivers to slow down and stay alert when near construction crews. For the latest news and information on road closings or traffic delays in our area, you can go to the INDOT Southwest Facebook and Twitter pages.

With the amount of rain and water flow this spring and summer, officials with the Patoka River Watershed are working to get the word out about improving water quality.

Patoka Watershed officials are working on area water management thanks to a 319 grant from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. The watershed serves as a mediator between the government and landowners to control water quality and help reduce runoff.

Patoka River Watershed Coordinator Julie Loehr says cover crops are one of the best ways to control water quality as the roots absorb the water, thus keeping it from running off into ditches. Loehr says there are also other ways to improve the water quality:

Of course, this spring and summer have been among the wettest on record in the area. Loehr says though the record-setting rains cause issues with water quality, there are still ways to control that quality:

The Patoka River Watershed will be hosting a pair of events coming up next month about water quality. The first will be “Hoosier River Watch Training” on Saturday, August 8th. The course, which will be held at VUJC, is designed to help people identify problems with creeks or streams near their homes and to do tests of the water.

The 2nd event will be held at the Patoka Lake Watershed on Saturday, September 12th. That event is a cleanup day where people will pick up trash from along the banks of the lake and can tour the lake watershed.

A group from the Dubois County Leadership Academy will soon be working to find future leaders as their capstone project.

The group, which is led by Amanda Smith, is working to get the word out about DCLA in light of the organization’s shrinking enrollment. Ferdinand town manager Chris James oversees the DCLA and says enrollment for this year dropped off significantly.

Earlier this week, Smith told the Ferdinand Town Council that the group will be putting together a marketing plan for the Leadership Academy. Smith says the goal will be to help future leaders understand what the academy is all about:

Smith says the group will create a specific website for the Dubois County Leadership Academy. She says the group will also utilize social media and put together a brochure to help attract more local leaders.

Meanwhile, James says he’s pleased that Smith and her group decided to take on promoting the leadership academy:

The Dubois County Leadership Academy started back in 2010 with the goal of bringing together young leaders from across Dubois County and equipping them with the necessary skills to lead in the future.The academy does this through half a dozen 4 hour classroom sessions that are held at locations in Jasper, Huntingburg, and Ferdinand. The academy then culminates with a graduation ceremony and the presentation of capstone projects.

Members of this year’s leadership academy class are set to graduate next month.

Jasper has joined a worldwide effort aimed at promoting peace.

Yesterday afternoon, Jasper High School art teacher Josh Dodd presented Jasper mayor Terry Seitz with the Dove of World Peace. Dodd led a group of 11 Jasper High School students to Germany back in May. During that trip, the group visited Jasper’s sister city of Pfaffenweiler, where mayor Hahn gave them the dove. Dodd says the dove is not only a great symbol, but also a good lesson for the students:

Carolyn Keaton was one of those students who went on the trip to Germany. Keaton, who will be a senior at JHS this fall, says the trip was one she’ll remember for a long time to come:

The dove was made by artist Richard Hillinger. It was made to ‘fly’ around the world in an effort to bring peace to all countries through travel and learning about other cultures. It’s been flying all around the world since 2012.

Now Mayor Seitz will keep the dove until Strassenfest weekend. It will then be given back to Pfaffenweiler mayor Hahn in a special presentation.

Congratulations were all around as Jasper celebrated its progress in the America’s Best Communities competition.

City and business leaders gathered at KlubHaus 61 last night for the “Congratulations Jasper” dinner hosted by ABC sponsor Frontier Communications. Officials with Frontier told those on hand that Jasper is in a good position to move to the semifinal round.

John Puskar oversees the America’s Best Communities initiative. He says teamwork is setting Jasper up for success in this competition:

Now the dinner capped off a busy day for Frontier executives and city officials alike. Frontier CEO Dan McCarthy was in town throughout the day yesterday. McCarthy says this was his first visit to Jasper and there was a lot to like:

Also last night, Frontier officials formally presented the $50,000 check to mayor Terry Seitz and members of the ABC Jasper team. Of course, the money was awarded for Jasper’s advancement into the quarterfinals. The city continues to work at raising the $15,000 local match required for the contest.

Up next for Jasper is a run at being a semifinalist in the competition. 15 semifinalists will be chosen in November to present their proposals at an America’s Best Communities summit in January 2016.
8 finalists will be selected after the January semifinalist presentations. 3 overall winners will be chosen, with $3 million being awarded for 1st place, $2 million for 2nd place and $1 million to the 3rd place finisher.

Seitz praised the teamwork from everyone in Jasper on this effort. He says regardless of the outcome, the city will be better for taking part in the contest:

Seitz says if the city were to win the competition, the money would go towards the city’s Downtown Riverfront Master Plan and finding ways to attract talent to the area.

Ferdinand community leaders are taking the first step in a long-term effort to build an overseas partnership with a German city.

Town council president Ken Sicard and his wife Monica will lead a group of 16 people on a trip to Dudenhofen, Germany. The group, which also includes Indiana Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann, will fly out of Indianapolis tomorrow morning. Sicard says the trip will last a total of 10 days. The group will spend the first 4 days in Austria with Archduke Markus Salvator von Habsburg-Lothringen and his wife Archduchess Hildegard. The group will then spend 2 days driving to Dudenhofen and will spend the remaining 4 days there.

Sicard says the trip has been planned for quite awhile after he and his wife agreed to go to Dudenhofen. He says the trip is all about giving back:

Sicard says much of the inspiration for this trip came from the Archduke’s visit to Ferdinand for last year’s Folk Fest along with a visit from the Dudenhofen choir. Sicard hopes this trip is the start of something bigger:

Earlier this week, Sicard and the rest of the Ferdinand Town Council signed a proclamation thanking Dudenhofen. Sicard will also be presenting Dudenhofen officials with a key to Ferdinand.

Of course, Ferdinand would be the 3rd local community to have such a partnership. Jasper is currently ‘sister cities’ with Pfaffenweiler, a partnership that will celebrate its 30th year at Strassenfest later this month. Huntingburg also has a ‘sister city’ partnership with Bissendorf, Germany.

TripAdvisor.com, the world’s largest travel site, has just announced the nation’s top water parks, with Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari very close to the top.

The 40-acre water park, among the largest in the world, was named the #3 park in the nation and #10 in the world, following only Disney parks in the U.S. rankings. In 2014, the park’s rankings were #4 in the nation and #13 in the world. TripAdvisor.com says the Travelers’ Choice Awards honor the top one-percent of attractions and lodging worldwide.

Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari president Matt Eckert says votes for the TripAdvisor award came from the park’s visitors, who he says were impressed with not only Holiday World’s fantastic line up of water rides, but also the friendliness of staff. Eckert says the park greatly appreciates the many reviews posted on TripAdvisor and that they read each one of them.

Splashin’ Safari is home to the world’s two longest water coasters, Mammoth and Wildebeest, plus dozens of other water attractions, slides, wave pools and children’s play areas.

Splashin’ Safari’s water coasters were recently featured on People Magazine’s website as two of the ten best water slides in the nation.

Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari are open daily, featuring the new Thunderbird – America’s first launched wing roller coaster. For more information, visit HolidayWorld.com or call 877-463-2645.