A rate increase for Jasper water customers is now on the horizon.

This morning, the Jasper Utility Service Board’s Water Committee recommended a 17% increase in city water rates. Utilities general manager Bud Hauersperger says roughly 9 and a half percent of that increase is due to utility projects that were mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency. 2 such projects are work on the Beaver Lake spillway and the ongoing work on the UV project.

Hauersperger says the originally proposed increase was between 25 and 28 percent, but that was not palatable for city officials. Hauersperger says though rates will be higher initially, the city will have water rates comparable with the rest of the area when all is said and done:

The recommendation will be taken up by the Jasper Utility Service Board at their next meeting later this month. The Jasper City Council will hold a public hearing on the increase at their April meeting as well.

If approved, the rate increase would go into effect on August’s utility bills. This would be the first water rate increase in Jasper since 2010.

Huntingburg’s Stellar Communities effort has gotten another funding boost…this time from a local business.

Officials with Jasper-based Kimball Electronics say the company has pledged a total of $25,000 towards Stellar projects in Huntingburg. The money is spread out over 2 years, which equates to $12,500 a year.

In a news release, Kimball Electronics Vice President for Human Resources Julie Dutchess says the long-term regional impact of the Stellar designation is exciting. She pointed to the Heritage Trail and Workforce Housing projects as a couple of examples of projects with major community benefits.

The money is coming from the Kimball Electronics Foundation, which focuses on donations to community, charitable, educational, and scientific endeavors. Huntingburg received the Stellar Communities designation for 2014 back in August.

The first round of severe weather this year has now hit the area.

Though Dubois County largely avoided damage, surrounding counties were not as lucky. There were some reports of a possible tornado in northern Spencer County and multiple utility lines were knocked down in Warrick and Vanderburgh counties, leaving many people without electricity.

As mentioned, not much damage was reported locally, though lightning did hit a house in the Bretzville area. St. Anthony fire crews were called to a residence along County Road 700 South a couple of miles south of the Bretzville Junction just before 4:25 yesterday afternoon. Little damage was reported and crews were on scene for about 35 minutes. Tornado watches were issued in Crawford, Dubois, and Perry counties for a short time as well.

Another round of strong thunderstorms is expected tomorrow before the stormy weather finally moves out of our area. The main threat in our area remains heavy rain and flood waters for now. Sunshine is expected to return on Friday and for your upcoming weekend.

An Alabama man was taken into custody after police found him passed out inside his vehicle in a Huntingburg trailer court.

At around 5:50 last night, HPD was called to Lot 5 in the 500 block of East 12th Street about a person who was passed out behind the wheel and possibly intoxicated. After arriving on scene, officers found 3 Alvaro Calles Riveramen passed out inside of a tan Ford Fusion with open alcohol bottles in the vehicle. Witnesses told police that the men had been driving around the court and parked with their music turned up loud, but nobody got out of the vehicle.

After waking the 3 men, officers identified the driver as 34-year-old Alberto Calles Rivera of Birmingham, Alabama. Rivera was detained after field sobriety tests showed him to be intoxicated. Chemical tests done later on at Memorial Hospital found his BAC to be around .24 percent or 3 times the legal limit.

Rivera was lodged in the Dubois County Security Center. He is facing a Class A misdemeanor for OWI along with a Class C misdemeanor for driving a vehicle without ever getting a license.

A driver who was reported as intoxicated was later arrested at a gas station on drug related charges.

After hearing this report, Jasper Police caught up with him in the parking lot of the Huck’s Gas Station on Jasper’s west side. While speaking with the driver (20-year-old Justin Wright of Jasper), an officer noticed several signs of impairment. Wright failed several field sobriety tests Justin Wrightand a blood draw at Memorial Hospital tested positive for benzodiazepenes. Police also found drug paraphernalia and a synthetic cannabinoid in the vehicle.

Wright was booked into the Dubois County Security Center. He is charged with OWI, OWI Endangerment, Possession of Paraphernalia and Possession of a Synthetic Cannabinoid.

Dubois County Sheriff’s deputies and a wrecker from Uelbehor’s also assisted.

Another new doctor has been appointed to the staff at Jasper’s Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center.

Dr. David Rizk was recently appointed to the active medical staff. Dr. Rizk will be providing hospitalist services while managing medical care provided to hospitalized patients for other primary care physicians.

Dr. Rizk earned his medical degree from Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt. He also completed a family medicine residency at Trover Clinic and Foundation in Madisonville, Kentucky. He served as chief resident at Baptist Health in Madisonville.

Dr. Rizk is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.

Police in Jasper are looking for the public’s assistance as they investigate a traffic accident that took place at the intersection of Newton and 13th streets next to the Jasper Legion late this morning.

Jasper Police say around 11:40 am today a black Pontiac Grand Prix was headed northbound on Newton Street while a black Chevrolet pickup truck was heading east on 13th Street.

Both drivers told police they had the green light and the two vehicles collided in the intersection.

They both also claimed they were behind other vehicles that had proceeded through the intersection for the green light as well.

Anyone who witnessed the accident is asked to contact the Jasper Police Department at 812-482-2255 or leave a message on the anonymous tip line at 812-481-COPS.