Local Coverage

The Indiana Department of Transportation says weather permitting they will be closing US 231 for one to two work days early next week to replace a drainage pipe under the highway approximately 3 and a half miles north of the State Road 56 junction in Haysville.

INDOT says US Highway 231 will be closed beginning at 8 am Monday, September 29th.

Local traffic will have access up to the work zone where all lanes will be closed and no through traffic will be allowed. IDOT says the detour for heavy highway traffic follows Sstate Road 56, Interstate 69 and U.S. Highway 50/150.

For construction updates and traffic alerts, you can follow INDOT on social media at facebook.com/INDOTVincennesDistrict and at twitter.com/INDOTSouthwest, or access INDOT’s TrafficWise Traveler Information Service at indot.carsprogram.org.

The first step towards changes and improvements that can come as early as next year at Jerry Brewer Alumni Stadium have been given the go ahead.

Last night the Greater Jasper School Board approved to allow the Jasper Football Boosters permission to seek fundraising for a new artificial turf for the facility that will be supported 100 percent by community donations.

Last month Richard Farr President of the Jasper Football Boosters on behalf of the club, the Jasper High School Athletic Department and the JHS Football Program, presented to the Greater Jasper School Board a proposal on a number of improvements to the 53-year old facility that most notably would include the installation of an artificial playing surface.

Farr told the board at their August meeting the conversion of the playing surface to artificial turf would possibly be funded completely with public and private donations. The estimated cost of a new surface would come in at ballpark amount of 7 to 800-hundred thousand dollars.

Farr says he pleased with the boards approval to allow the football boosters to seek funding and the organization is ready to move forward:

Other possible improvemets that can be implemented over a 3 to 5 year period include additional improvements to stadium entrances and other areas such as seating and press facilities. But the latter ideas for now will take a back seat to the project’s first priority, the replacement of the playing surface. Farr says the group will likely seek funding for those plans down the road.

Farr says the plan for improvements at Jerry Brewer Alumni will benefit multiple programs down the road. Not just football:

In their quest the football boosters organization plans to work with Jasper High School Athletic Director Andy Noblitt and Head Football Coach Tony Ahrens to negotiate field naming rights to businesses or individuals who may perhaps help fund the new turf.

Several years back the stadium itself was named after Brewer the longtime football coach who guided the program for 44 years. Farr pointed out last month that would not change and that the naming rights would be for the playing surface only.

Farr says the club plans to put a detailed fundraising plan together involving a number of events culminating probably towards the end of this calendar year with an event celebrating what has been accomplished with fund that have been raised at that point.

BUDGET APPROVED

Also last night the Greater Jasper School board adopted the corporation’s 2015 budget.

Superintendent Dr. Tracy Lorey told the board all advertising requirements have been met and a public hearing on the proposed budget was held last month. Nobody from the public showed up.

The 2015 budget, totaling just over 36.8 million dollars, was figured using an assessed value estimate of $900 million, the same as in 2014. The tax levy is advertised at $1.60 per $100 assessed valuation, but Lorey believes the final approved rate will be similar to the $1.08 the state approved for this year’s budget.

The overall corporation budget is broken into six primary categories. Each has its own rules and stipulations on collection and spending set by the state. They include the general fund, the capital projects fund, the transportation fund, the debt service fund, the pension bond fund, and the bus replacement fund.

Lorey said no changes were made to the origional budget that was proposed back in July. The budget will now be forwarded to the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance for review and its final approval.

A former Cannelton school superintendent charged with stealing money from the district is set to appear in court next week.

Al Chapman will be standing trial next Monday, September 29th. He served as superintendent of the district from 2005 until he was dismissed in early 2012.

Now Chapman was originally arrested last May in Louisiana after a state audit found that he allegedly took more than 200 thousannd dollars in extra pay for himself. The investigation also found that Chapman quit paying the school’s federal taxes and misused a school trust fund worth more than 330 thousand dollars.

Chapman originally fled to Louisiana after his firing in January of 2012. He had been a finalist for a superintendent’s job in the Baton Rouge area. However, he was not hired once school officials found out about his legal issues in Indiana. He then worked as a car salesman at a Pontiac dealership in the Shreveport area, where he was taken into custody by US Marshals.

He is charged with 2 felonies for theft and 2 other felony counts for official misconduct.

The Huntingburg Chamber of Commerce and the Huntingburg Herbstfest are once again partnering for this Saturday’s Farmer’s Market.

For this week only, the city farmer’s market will be at the Huntingburg Municipal Park in front of Dan Merkel Field. The market will be run in conjunction with the weekend’s Herbstfest.

In a news release, Huntingburg Chamber director Nick Stevens says it is an honor to have the 2 community activities held in the same place this weekend. He says it is a great opportunity for the community.

Now the market is looking for local farmers and folks interested in selling produce, flowers, plants, baked goods, meat, and various other homemade/handcrafted items. All items sold have to be grown or made in Dubois or adjoining counties. Booth spaces at the market are 7 dollars a week.

For more information or to become a vendor, you can contact the Chamber at 683-5699.

Indiana has released local unemployment figures for the month of August and Dubois County once again fared well.

Numbers released this afternoon by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development show that the county once again led the way for lowest unemployment. The August rate was at 3.7 percent, down 2 tenths of a percent from July’s number. The county’s lead over 2nd place Hamilton County maintained a gap of 3 tenths of a percent.

Among other local counties, Daviess County is tied for the 4th lowest unemployment rate in the state at 4.1 percent. Martin County’s rate is at 4.5 percent, Warrick County at 4.6 percent, Spencer County is at 4.7, Pike County 5 percent, Perry 5.4 percent, Orange 5.7, and Crawford County at 6.2 percent.

Lake County had Indiana’s highest unemployment rate in August. That number came in at 7.7 percent.

Statewide, Indiana’s unemployment rate was at 5.5 percent in August. That is down 1 tenth of a percent from July. The state has now seen a 1.7 percent decrease in its unemployment rate over the past year. That is one of the largest in the US.

In that same time frame, Indiana has seen an increase of more than 51 thousand workers in its labor force. That’s also one of the best numbers nationwide.

Dubois Strong now has new leadership.

This morning, the organization announced that D. Edward Cole will serve as the next president. Cole comes to Dubois Strong following a stint as a regional development specialist for the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.

In that role, Cole focused on business retention and expansion, workforce development, and regional collaboration among other roles. He also worked on developing the I-40 West corridor which the organization says will allow him to work towards improving the transporation infrastructure in Dubois County.

Dubois Strong board president Dr. Alan Johnson says Cole’s hiring marks a positive ending to what was a tough process:

Johnson says with a leader now in place, the organization can begin to move forward with several of its goals:

A native of Perrysville, Indiana, Cole served as executive director of the Vermillion County Economic Development Council prior to moving to Oklahoma.

In Vermillion County, he worked to facilitate the sale of a 50 thousand square foot speculative building. He also developed an industrial park for the county and coordinated a 2 state partnership for it along with successfully implementing tax increment financing districts in the county to maintain its industrial infrastructure.

Cole will start his new job on October 20th.

The Jasper Police and Fire Departments are continuing to look into a fire they say was intentionally started over the weekend.

Authorities say the fire was set underneath an outbuilding owned by Lutta Beckman in the 4300 block of Baden Strasse early Saturday. The fire was discovered at about 1:30 that morning.

Authorities say the suspect or suspects started the fire underneath the back corner of the building. They say damage to the building and its contents was estimated at around 3 thousand dollars.

Jasper Police and the Community Strike Force are now offering a 1 thousand dollar reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for this blaze.

If you have any information on what happened, you are asked to call the Jasper Police Department at 482-2255 or the anonymous tip line at 481-COPS.