Work on new senior housing at the former St. Joseph’s Hospital building in Huntingburg is moving along, but the project now has additional help from the county.
Last night, the Dubois County Council voted to advertise 100 thousand dollars in extra support for the project. Pete Schweigeraht with Cincinnati-based firm Miller-Valentine Group, told the council changes in construction costs led to the shortfall. He told the council the project is being largely funded by a 500 thousand dollar Affordable Housing Program grant from the state along with 300 thousand dollars from the city of Huntingburg. However, Schweigeraht says the cost of construction on the project has gone up by 1 million dollars, thus the need for the additional funding from the council. The building has also seen some deterioration recently, with the sprinkler system failing and some parts of the hospital building taking on water.
Schweigeraht says in spite of the funding shortfall, the project remains on schedule:
Now Miller-Valentine will be buying 30 thousand square feet of the former St. Joseph’s Hospital building for this project. Schweigeraht says that purchase should be closed by the end of this week. Construction could begin next month and the project is expected to be completed early next year.
RAILROAD OVERPASS/STELLAR COMMUNITIES UPDATES
In other business, Huntingburg mayor Denny Spinner updated the council on the railroad overpass project. Spinner stated that INDOT officials and project engineers have come up with more than 250 thousand dollars in savings for construction thanks to small changes such as narrowing the width of the lanes on the bridge and rerouting the project from 14th Street.
Spinner says the changes will also be good for local taxpayers:
Spinner says the engineering plans for the project are about 80% complete. INDOT is currently reviewing the plans.
As for the Stellar communities effort, Spinner says groundbreaking for the 9th Street extension project will be coming up this spring. Bids will be recieved on March 9th. That project will be done in September of this year.
Finally, Spinner stated that committees will be meeting with businesses and landlords to get the 4th Street redevelopment and Market Street Park projects going. Spinner says that meeting will take place next Tuesday night.
A reported disturbance at a Huntingburg hotel ended with a South Carolina man in jail on drug charges.
Just after 1:15 this morning, Huntingburg Police were called to the Quality Inn off of 22nd Street. While they investigated the complaint, police smelled marijuana while passing one of the rooms. Police went back to the room after responding to the initial call.
The occupants of the room let officers in and they found a baggie of marijuana along with other drug paraphernalia. One of the occupants (Alex Gorham of Spartanburg, South Carolina) admitted that the drugs were his and he was arrested.
Gorham was booked into the Dubois County Security Center on a Class B misdemeanor for possession of marijuana and a Class A misdemeanor for possession of paraphernalia.
Dubois County Sheriff’s deputies and Indiana State Police also assisted.
The Indiana General Assembly has once again made changes to ISTEP…and Jasper school officials are among those with concerns.
During last night’s school board meeting, Greater Jasper superintendent Dr. Tracey Lorey outlined several of those concerns. Earlier in the day, Governor Mike Pence and state lawmakers signed off on a bill that would shorten the revamped ISTEP+ test by just over 3 hours. Testing time was slated to take 12 hours prior to that decision.
Lorey says shortening the test is a good thing. However, she says the length of the test isn’t the biggest problem schools are facing:
Lorey told the school board the changes will likely delay the release of test scores for this year. Of course in the Hoosier state, test scores are directly linked to teacher and school evaluations, something Lorey says needs to change:
Another provision in yesterday’s bill waives a state law that requires the Indiana Department of Education to release non-multiple choice or true-false questions for parents to review. State officials say this cuts down on the number of required pilot questions.
The 2015 ISTEP test is slated to get underway tomorrow. More than 450 thousand students statewide in grades 3 through 8 will take this year’s test.
A minor accident on Jasper’s southeast side sent a Jasper woman to the hospital with bumps and bruises.
At 4:40 yesterday afternoon, Jasper Police were called to 3rd Avenue near Hilary Drive. JPD says 74-year-old Joy Voight was going southbound on 3rd Avenue and had slowed down to turn west onto Hilary Drive. JPD says 61-year-old Charles Kerstiens, who was following Voight’s vehicle, did not see her slow down and could not stop before running into the back of Voight’s vehicle.
Voight complained of back pain and was taken to Memorial Hospital for treatment. Kerstiens was not injured, but was cited for following too closely.
Total damage was estimated at 7 thousand dollars for Voight’s vehicle while Kerstien’s vehicle sustained 2 thousand dollars worth of damage.
Memorial Hospital EMS also assisted.
A routine traffic stop in Daviess County did not end well for a Vincennes woman.
At about 1:25 yesterday afternoon, a pair of Indiana State Police troopers were on patrol along US 50 near County Road 900 East in Cannelburg when they noted a silver 2000 Chevrolet Impala going 78 mph in a 50 mph zone. The troopers then pulled the vehicle over and spoke to the driver (29-year-old Brittany Smith).
After talking to Smith, troopers noted the smell of marijuana coming from the vehicle. The troopers’ suspicion was confirmed as they found marijuana after searching the vehicle. Troopers also found out that Smith was driving under the influence of methamphetamine, marijuana, and opiates.
Smith was taken into custody and booked into the Daviess County Jail. She is charged with a Level 6 felony for Operating While Intoxicated with a Prior Conviction and misdemeanor counts for Operating While Intoxicated and Possession of Marijuana with a Prior Conviction.
Now state police ask that if anyone comes across a dangerous or reckless driver, you should call 9-1-1 immediately. Be ready to describe your location and the vehicle in question. You should also be able to describe the reckless driving behavior to dispatchers.
Indiana has become a leader in implementing the text-to-911 system, though local officials say few people in Dubois County are using it.
Dubois and all surrounding counties are among 88 statewide that have implemented the service which allows you to send a text message to 9-1-1 dispatchers from your cell phone. The only counties in Indiana that don’t have the service are Lake, Jasper, Marion and Ripley.
Janice Love is the director of the Dubois County 9-1-1 Communications Center. She says most of the time the text-to-911 usage is coming from the dispatch center rather than from people in distress:
Love says it’s not clear if more people will use the system as time goes on. She remains adamant that calling 9-1-1 is still the best option:
Love says the text system is useful when someone has a hearing or speech impairment or in a situation where speaking would be unsafe.
Now the text-to-911 system has been implemented locally and statewide in response to a federal order requiring all wireless carriers and text-messaging providers to support the system by the end of this year. Vermont and Maine are the only 2 states that have all of their counties accepting text messages to 9-1-1.
15 other states have a few of their counties participating thus far.
Indiana Democrats say the ongoing debate over legislation removing one of state school superintendent Glenda Ritz’s responsibilities could boost Ritz and other Democratic candidates in next year’s election.
House Minority Leader Scott Pelath says Ritz’s 2012 upset of Republican Tony Bennett was a referendum on the GOP’s education policies, policies pushed by Bennett and former Governor Mitch Daniels. Pelath also points to Republican voters who are outraged by bills that would end Ritz’s automatic chairmanship of the State Board of Education.
Last week, District 48 state senator Mark Messmer talked with WBDC News about the controversy over Ritz’s role in the education issues. Messmer voted for the Senate version of the bill that would remove her from the automatic chairmanship. He says the move will not have the major impact that has been widely reported:
Governor Mike Pence has pushed for the change in the State Board of Education chairmanship. He argues that it is needed in order to put a stop to the dysfunction between Ritz and the rest of the board.
First drafts of the bill have already been approved in the House and Senate. The Senate bill would shrink the board down to 9 members and would transfer 4 board appointments from Pence to legislative leaders.