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INDIANAPOLIS- People from all across Indiana are demonstrating their support of public education today at a rally for state schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz, including a group of several residents from Sullivan County.
They’re at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis to voice opposition against bills advancing in the Legislature to move authority away from Ritz as the head of the state board of education..A bill that would allow the State Board of Education to replace Ritz as its leader is expected to be voted on by the state Senate.
“We braved the weather to show our support for State School Superintendent Glenda Ritz!” Nancy Hunt, of Sullivan, said this afternoon. She noted the sign she was holding reads, ”It’s not Democracy to steal my vote!”
Hunt described the large crowd as enthusiastic with “great” speeches given by various speakers, including senators, teachers, parents, teacher organizations.
“As a retired public school teacher I care about what is being forced on public schools. We need to stop the high stakes testing and put students needs ahead of testing companies. We need to let teachers run their classrooms again. They know what is best for their students,” Hunt said.
The rally comes just after the House approved a resolution to remove Ritz, elected as superintendent in 2012. Republican Gov. Mike Pence currently appoints all the other 10 board members. Some allege the action is political, as Ritz is currently the only Democrat who was elected to the statewide office.
Organizers of the event include the Indiana Coalition for Public Education, the Indiana Parent Teachers Association and teachers unions.
“Regardless of the stand point on Superintendent Glenda Ritz the Indiana people (1.3 million) elected her and the Indiana government does not need to control the Education board. Our schools need to be equitable, fair and objective,” Erin Johns, Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation, stated last week in a letter to public officials.
Lucy Perry can be reached at email@example.com
We’ve all heard the phrase: “You are what you eat;” however, biology Professor David Wooten has his own spin: “You are what you read.”
Wooten will share insights from the books that Charles Darwin read during his lecture, “Darwin: Books, Beetles, and Blasphemy,” as Indiana State University’s Darwin Day Speaker at 7 p.m. Feb. 24 in the events area of Cunningham Memorial Library.
“For me, to truly understand Darwin and his theory, you need to understand the roots of its formation and this led to me to these various books,” said Wooten, a professor of biology at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Mich. “Darwin was not the first person to contemplate a theory of evolution. Individuals from Aristotle to Lamarck postulated on how species can change over time, but Darwin was the one that figured out the mechanism to explain such a process.”
Wooten started collecting antique books at first, mostly biology tomes with beautiful illustrations after graduate school. His first love, as expected, was science and Darwin’s contributions.
“Undoubtedly (‘The Origin of Species’) was his major achievement, but far from his only contribution to science. Darwin wrote seminal works on geology, marine biology, zoology, ecology and numerous works in the field of botany,” Wooten said. “If you take away evolution and ‘Origin of Species,’ Charles Darwin is still one of the greatest and most ingenious scientists in history.”
Darwin made these contributions in the face of much personal sacrifice hence, use of the word “blasphemy” in Wooten’s alliterative lecture title.
“He had witnessed others before him who published works claiming species were mutable and were subsequently, both socially and professionally, ostracized,” Wooten said. “He greatly feared the consequences of his theory for both his family and himself.”
The religious debate continues today in some places. Controversy aside, evolution remains a topic scientists and non-scientists alike are fascinated by more than 150 years later.
“Evolution answers one of the greatest questions of all time: Why is our world so diverse? It addresses who we are and where we come from as humans. These questions strike at the core of how we perceive ourselves and how we fit into the complex dynamic of our planet,” Wooten said.
With advances in genomics and the continued exploration of the mechanisms of gene expression, epigenetics and mutation, science is ever evolving, too.
“In my opinion, it is a fascinating and important time to be a biologist and address these issues,” Wooten said. “Historically, this time period is critical for us and our works/actions will most definitely be critiqued and studied by future generations.”
During his lecture, Wooten says he aims to engage a diverse audience of science-lovers, history-lovers and book-lovers for an inspiring evening.
“I designed this talk to capture the interest of folks interested in evolution, in history and in antique literature. It is not a talk directly about evolution, and it’s not a talk only about Darwin,” Wooten said. “It’s a bibliographic history about the books that inspired an unsuspecting English naturalist to sail the world and come back with an idea that grew into the greatest unifying theory in all of biology. I want attendees to walk away with an appreciation of the journey, the genius, the humility, the tribulation and the ultimate success of Charles Darwin.”
Part of the Darwin Keynote Speaker Series, Darwin Day was founded to celebrate science as an international language, much like music, and is sponsored by Indiana State’s University Honors Program and Center for Community Engagement.
VIGO COUNTY- Officials are reminding the community of the importance of installing smoke detectors in residences after a blaze claimed the life of a Terre Haute man this weekend.
Honey Creek Fire Department was dispatched to a structure fire with occupants still inside of the residence, located at 76 Judith Lane, just after midnight Sunday. Honey Creek Fire Department Battalion Chief Joshua Sittler reports that the fire has been ruled accidental, “because of improper use of smoking materials.”
“Upon arriving crews found a working fire with one occupant already out of the house, while crews were doing a search of the house they found a second occupant who was unconscious and not breathing. Victim was removed from the house and transported to a local hospital where he was later flown to Indianapolis where he later succumbed to his injuries,” Sittler said.
Investigation revealed that there were no working smoke detectors inside of the house at the time of the fire. Honey Creek Fire Department was assisted by Riley Fire Department, Sugar Creek Fire Department, Seelyville Fire Department, Prairieton Fire Department, Trans-Care Ambulance and Vigo County Sheriff’s Office assisted at the scene.
With difficult travel expected in southern Indiana from Sunday night into Monday, motorists should consider if travel is necessary and prepare accordingly.
If travelers are involved in a crash or slide-off, encounter vehicle trouble, become stuck in the snow or otherwise have to stop during a car trip, it’s important to stay calm and remain in the vehicle. A vehicle is nearly always the best protection stranded motorists have from the wind and snow. Continue wearing seat belts, which can offer protection in the event of a collision after becoming stranded.
Drifting snow can make it difficult for other drivers to see anyone standing on or near roads. Leave traffic direction and other assistance to public safety professionals. “Certainly, if it’s a life-threatening situation, someone may need help,” said John Erickson with IDHS. “In general, however, it’s best to stay with your vehicle.”
Below freezing temperatures and the wind can create a dangerous situation where frostbite can occur in about 30 minutes or less. Stay in the vehicle and run the engine every hour for about 10 minutes to stay warm. Make sure the tailpipe is clear of snow or other blockage before running the engine to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Turn the headlights on when running the engine, so the vehicle can be seen.
Only leave a stranded vehicle if there is better shelter nearby that can be reached safely.
Drivers should slow down and move over for stranded motorists as well as emergency vehicles and snow plows.
BRAZIL- Northview Band & Guard hosted its 27th Annual Chicken Noodle Dinner & Pops Concert today at the high school.
Several middle and high school performances were held in the auditorium and gymnasium at Northview High School in Brazil. Those attending were able to experience performances from the Northview High School and North Clay Middle School concert and jazz bands,and also hear performances by the North Clay Cadet Corps, Northview Winter Guard, Percussion Ensemble and Northview Indoor Drumline.
The menu drew a large crowd to enjoy the fundraiser event, which included chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes, green beans, slaw or applesauce, rolls and dessert.
Lucy Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
SOUTHERN INDIANA – The National Weather Service has declared a winter storm warning for 17 southern Indiana counties along the Ohio River, predicting several inches of snow beginning at 7 p.m. Eastern. In addition, accumulating snow is predicted for all of Indiana south of the I-70 corridor.
Indiana Department of Transportation maintenance supervisors are closely monitoring evolving local forecasts. INDOT will deploy its yellow plow trucks ahead of any predicted accumulation on Indiana’s interstates, U.S. highways and state routes. For social media updates, find the INDOT Facebook and Twitter pages for your regional district at www.in.gov/indot/3074.htm.
Conditions worst during storm
INDOT will adjust its deployment of manpower, trucks and materials as appropriate to address changes in forecasted and observed road conditions. Trained INDOT employees are on call to staff plow trucks around the clock with alternating shifts of 12 hours or more.
Each INDOT plow route takes 2-3 hours to complete with salt assisting in melting between passes. INDOT urges drivers to reschedule optional trips as road conditions will be the worst during and shortly after winter precipitation.
With the heaviest snow predicted to continue through the Monday morning rush, drivers are encouraged to make room for INDOT’s yellow plow trucks so they can complete their routes. Roads clogged from crashes or rush-hour congestion prevent plow trucks from clearing and treating highways in a timely manner.
With temperatures dipping well below freezing, road salt has to work harder to melt accumulated snow and ice. INDOT may mix road salt with sand or specialty chemicals that help it work more effectively in these conditions.
Sub-freezing temperatures increase the chances of melt-water refreezing into “black ice” or “slick spots” that may be difficult for drivers to distinguish from dry pavement. Even four-wheel-drive vehicles and large trucks are no match if all tires are on ice.
If you must venture out, drivers should follow these tips:
Bloomington, Ind. – Mayor Mark Kruzan has announced that three local women will be honored during Women’s History Month for their outstanding service to our community. The recipients were selected by members of the Woman of the Year Subcommittee of the City of Bloomington’s Commission on the Status of Women. Judge Valeri Haughton-Motley has been named Bloomington’s Woman of the Year, Dana Watters has been named recipient of the Lifetime Contribution Award and Alycin Bektesh was chosen to receive the Emerging Leader Award.
Woman of the Year and Lifetime Contribution Award recipients will be honored at the Women’s History Month Lunch. The theme for this year’s lunch is “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives.” Jennie Vaughan, the Chancellor of Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington, will be the keynote speaker at the luncheon. The luncheon will be held on Wednesday, March 25, at 12:15 p.m. at the Bloomington/Monroe County Convention Center, 302 S. College Ave. Seats must be purchased in advance before March 20. In addition, organizations for women and women-owned businesses will exhibit at the history luncheon. The exhibit reservation form is available at www.bloomington.in.gov/csw. Doors will open at 11:15 a.m. for viewing of women’s exhibits.
The Emerging Leader recipient will be honored at the Women’s Leadership Development event, held on Tuesday, March 3 at 5 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 401 N. Morton St. The Women’s Leadership Development Event is free and open to the public. More information on the Women’s Leadership Development Event and recipient Alycin Bektesh can be found here.
“Women’s History Month serves as an opportunity to recognize individual and collective accomplishments of women in our community,” said Cathi Crabtree, Bloomington Commission on the Status of Women chair. “These women serve as great role models for women everywhere.”
Woman of the Year, Valeri Haughton-Motley, has been the presiding judge of Monroe Circuit Court VIII for six years. Haughton-Motley currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Community Kitchen and the Community Justice and Mediation Center. She also serves on the Commission on the Status of Black Males and the Bloomington Human Rights Commission and is a member of the NAACP, Benevolent Order of Elks and the American Civil Liberties Union. Additionally, she actively supports Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
Lifetime Contribution Award winner, Dana Watters, is a nurse that has been dedicated to the needs of women for over three decades. She currently serves as the Executive Director for Women’s and Children’s services at IU Health Bloomington Hospital. Watters leads a team of 160 people who provide care to women and their families. Her unwavering passion and commitment to this mission is evident in her active involvement in organizational, regional and national issues related to the care of women.
Over the years, Watters has chaired and served on several committees, including the Indiana State Department of Health, the Monroe County Post-Partum Depression Task Force and the IU School of Nursing Advisory Board. In addition to reproductive health, Watters also has been a strong advocate of preventing heart disease in women and is currently a co-chair of the planning committee for the annual Go Red for Women event.
Tickets for the event are $20 per lunch and may be purchased through the mail or in-person. Checks payable to “City of Bloomington – Women’s History Month Lunch,” along with the names of attendees for the guest list, may be sent to: Women’s History Month Lunch, Commission on the Status of Women, P.O. Box 100, Bloomington, IN, 47402. Seats may also be purchased at the Community and Family Resources Department at City Hall, 401 N. Morton St., Suite 260. The deadline for purchasing a seat is Friday, March 20. Scholarships are available for individuals that need assistance purchasing a seat to attend the lunch.
Powerful winds are creating a deceptive travel picture in Northern Indiana. What may look like clear driving can quickly turn treacherous in an open area, especially with recent snow and windy conditions today.
The Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) is joining the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Indiana State Police to advise Hoosiers to consider avoiding travel through northern Indiana.
Additionally, a winter storm should be monitored by citizens in northern Indiana through Sunday. The National Weather Service predicts 3-7 inches of snow is possible for portions of northern Indiana. Some areas may see higher totals due to lake effect snow.
Strong wind gusts of up to 45 mph through Sunday afternoon may cause white out conditions in some areas. The wind can create deceptive travel conditions for drivers. Some areas may look clear, but strong wind gusts across open fields can reduce visibility to nothing in a matter of seconds. It is better not to travel altogether in order to avoid being caught in whiteout conditions.
Hoosiers should carefully consider if travel is necessary during this time. Use a variety of sources to make an informed decision.
One of those sources is the Indiana County Travel Advisory Map. It’s updated with information from the county emergency management agencies and describes the conditions for a travel warning, watch, advisory and caution.
The map is available online at http://www.in.gov/dhs/
In addition to the Travel Advisory Map, keep an eye on road conditions and closures across the state at trafficwise.in.gov or via the Northwest District’s social media channels:www.Facebook.com/
If travel is necessary, let someone know your route, expected time of arrival, and how to reach you. Charge your cell phone before leaving. Pack essential items such as high protein snacks, water, first aid kit, flashlight, warm blankets, extra prescription medications and important documents or information you might need during an emergency.
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Bloomfield – Thursday evening, just before 7 pm, Indiana State Police Detectives were called to a residence by the Bloomfield Police Department regarding a stabbing that had just taken place.
According to an Indiana State Police press release, the victim, identified as DJ “Douglas” Lockhart, 22, of Bloomfield was stabbed at 332 South Lewis St. in Bloomfield. Lockhart was pronounced dead at the scene by the Greene County Coroner.
Lockhart’s family has been notified.
The autopsy, which was scheduled for Friday morning at Terre Haute Regional Hospital, confirmed Lockhart died of a stab wound to the heart. The number of wounds is not known at this time.
No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing.
Former Linton Mayor Patrick Turner has been appointed to the Linton City Council.
Turner will finish out former Linton Council Member Nigel Lehman’s term, which ends on Dec. 31. Lehman resigned on Jan. 16 as council member for Ward 7 after serving the position since 1995.
Greene County Democrat Party Chairman Jeff Lehman filed the paperwork making Turner’s appointment official on Friday afternoon.
“I figured this was the best way to do it, by choosing someone who did not file for candidacy [in the fall election],” Lehman explained. “This will let [Turner] finish out the year and the election decide on who will fill the spot [in January].”
Lehman further explained that Turner stepped up to the plate and offered his services for the open council position.
Cody Grigsby and Janet Majors are charged with neglect of a dependent, a level 6 felony, and their two young children have been removed from their residence by Child Protective Services.
The Clay County Sheriff’s Department was alerted yesterday afternoon that a three-year-old boy had been found, walking on the shoulder of State Road 340. The female caller told the dispatcher that she had brought the child into her home.
When a deputy arrived at the residence, the woman allegedly said the child had been standing near her mailbox, pointing and saying “mommy.” She said she looked down the road, and there was a woman walking about 40-50 yards to the east.
The child reportedly had on pajama pants, and no shirt or shoes. Police stated that the temperature at the time was 22 degrees, with a wind chill factor of 10 degrees.
Meanwhile, another witness claimed to have heard an argument at the trailer home of Grigsby and Majors shortly before the child was found. Grigsby allegedly said Majors had been walking to her grandmother’s Brazil home, so he had let the child to walk down S.R. 340 to catch up to Majors.
Grigsby reportedly said he checked out the door a few minutes later and could not find the boy, but was able to locate him a couple of houses down, where the woman had taken him in.
Child Protective Services was called, and when agents inspected the residence, the living conditions were reportedly deplorable. Allegedly, there were 10-15 dogs present, and the floors were covered with dog feces and trash, causing an overwhelming odor.
There were also allegedly holes in the floor, through which the outdoors was visible, and other areas of the floor seemed to be collapsing as well.
Indiana State Police are currently investigating a homicide that occurred in Bloomfield at 6:59 p.m. Thursday. No arrests have been made.
ISP Public Information Officer Sgt. Curt Durnil confirmed that D.J. (Douglas) Lockhart, 22, of Bloomfield, is deceased.
“It appears to be that he was stabbed to death with some type of sharp object. At this time, we’re unsure of the exact weapon. It is a homicide case that started as a death investigation.”
The Bloomfield Police Department responded to the incident and requested that Indiana State Police lead the investigation. Both departments are working together on the matter.
“This is an ongoing investigation. [As of now] we have not been made aware of any person of interest,” Durnil said.
The family has been notified of Lockhart’s death.
An autopsy on Lockhart was performed at Regional Hospital in Terre Haute today.
Lockhart is the father of Marina Boelter’s child. Boelter has been missing since Dec. 31, 2014.
Classic Cruisers Car Club donates proceeds to Riley’s Hospital and other Local Charitable Organizations raised from car show events.
The Classic Cruisers Car Club is a small organization making a big impact. In 2014, the club raised and donated $9,000 in support of Riley’s Children’s Hospital and other local charitable organizations.
The club collects donations from local merchants, businesses and supporters as well as funds raised by registration fees at the Linton Freedom Festival and the Bloomfield Apple Festival car shows the club sponsors each year.
In 2014, the funds were distributed to:
Since we began our fund raising efforts in 2007, the Classic Cruisers have disbursed $57,850 with $36,600 going to Riley’s Children Hospital and the remainder remaining in the Greene County community.
Persons wishing to support the charitable goals of the Classic Cruisers organization can email us at: email@example.com or visit our Classic Cruiser’s website at: http://classiccruisers.org , for our monthly meeting dates and other events.
TERRE HAUTE – Up until last night, during a special city council meeting, the residents of Terre Haute had yet to hear from Powerdyne representatives about the proposed renewable fuel facility and the contracts regarding the sewage sludge- to-diesel fuel plans.
Powerdyne Chief Exectutive Officer/President Geoff Hirson, a native of South Africa now residing in California, made a strong first impression. He was quick to defend the privately held company’s technology, which he admitted he “holds close to his chest.”.
“I really hope we can put this project together, get rid of all the– I don’t want to use swear words, but — get rid of all the stuff that’s been going on, and make it good for both Powerdyne, the city and the community,” Hirson said.
After a Powerpoint presentation before the city council, he took questions regarding the related contracts with the city for the sludge-to-fuel project in front of a standing room only audience at Terre Haute City Hall.
In the end, Hirson basically just said take it or leave it.
Friction seemed to spark when Councilman Todd Nation — alleging secrecy in the plans and contracts with the city — provoked Hirson by asking him to see a facility with its existing technology, expressing implied skepticism in the legitimacy of the corporation.
Responding to that question regarding his business from Councilman Nation, Hirson stated he wanted to feel welcome in Terre Haute, “But when you push my buttons… all I want to know is, do you want me in the city or do you not want me in the city? For me, it’s get on a plane and go home, I got other projects,” he said. He then jested that if he were proposing opening a restaurant, for example, in the town, would his motives be questioned?
Aside from that conflict, a few of the council members were welcoming to Hirson. Councilman Norman Loudermilk, in particular, said he was willing to suggest a tax abatement for the project.
All the contracts with Powerdyne and the related companies are being renegotiated and officials hope to have them ready to go in time for next month’s city council meeting for review. Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett said Powerdyne and its related contracts are being revised by Mark Thompson, director of wastewater plant, city attorney Chou-il Lee and himself, due to recent opposition in the community and alleged flaws.
Consultants and engineers spoke to the audience to explain the formalities involved in transporting the required sludge to meet the demand from remote cities and the process to alter it into fuel to clear up months of confusion in the talks so far.
Hirson outlined the waste- to- fuel project, explaining there are currently nearly 200 such facilities in the United States, of which 114 are bio-fuel projects. He noted that negative press in Terre Haute has, in fact, brought favorable attention and interest in his company. In the event the project gets the go ahead locally, Hirson said he is prepared to issue a $3 million “concession” check at groundbreaking for the facility.
“I know everyone is asking ,how are we going to make all this fuel with so little sludge? Well, we don’t only use sludge, obviously,” he said, explaining they would use feedstock — or, raw materials — in place of the previously stated green waste. “We can convert any kind of organic material into synthetic gas.”
He explained the concept is nothing new and actually is environmentally friendly. The carbon gasification process has been around 180 years and there is no waste or harmful emissions. He noted that the finished fuel product, created in the process, looks as clear as water. It is due to a clean fuel process, a “closed loop system” needed in today’s environment, he said.
“Our fuel facility that we’re going to build is going to be owned and operated without any city financial investment, “Hirson assured the audience. “We never came to this city and said, ‘Help us to build this plant.'”
During the building of the proposed plant, 2,000 construction jobs could be created. About 100 to 130 employees would be needed to keep the plant running, he said, noting the jobs would be in the $30 and above- per-hour range.
A scientist, Roger Ward, and an engineer, Craig Shumaker, each spoke from the podium, voicing their concerns of the practicality of the sludge-to-fuel plans.
“It would be one thing if this plant was located in the center of Indianapolis. Even that wouldn’t be enough sewage sludge,” Ward said.
And, the process of dewatering the sludge is another concern.
“The particular problem with the sludge, is much of the fuel in the carbon in sludge is used to dry out the sludge,” Shumaker said.
Lucy Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
INDIANAPOLIS (February 12, 2015) – The Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) certified Greene County’s 2015 budget order and tax rates on January 26, 2015, paving the way for on-time property tax bills. The budget certification puts the county in a position to have taxes due on May 11, 2015. Greene County was the 30th county in the State to receive its 2015 budget order and tax rates.
“The certification of the budget order and tax rates sets the stage nicely for on-time tax bills for the sixth consecutive year, continuing the predictable administration of the property tax system,” DLGF Commissioner Courtney L. Schaafsma, CGFM said. “A tremendous amount of collaboration between local and state officials is required to ensure property tax bills go out on time, and it is rewarding to see all the efforts pay off.”
The first step in the assessment to tax billing process is the completion of the property assessments, which culminates with the submission of a ratio study. A ratio study is a comparison between property sales prices and assessed values in the county to ensure that market values are being used to determine assessed values. Typically, these should be submitted to the state and approved by May 31, the year prior to tax billing. Greene County’s ratio study was submitted on May 19, 2014.
Once the DLGF approves the ratio study, the assessor sends the gross assessed values to the county auditor, who applies exemptions, deductions, or abatements to determine the net assessed values – the values upon which tax rates are based. That information was statutorily due to the DLGF by August 1, 2014. Greene County’s certified net assessed values were submitted on August 21, 2014.
Now that the 2015 budget has been certified by the DLGF, the next steps are handled at the county level. The county auditor is to calculate tax bills, which the county treasurer should mail to taxpayers no later than April 17, 2015. A copy of the Greene County budget is available at the Department of Local Government Finance Website.
Bloomfield – An investigation launched by Indiana State Police Detectives resulted in the arrest of Danny R. Deckard, 21, of Bloomfield Wednesday afternoon.
According to an Indiana State Police press release, information gathered indicated Deckard had approached another individual and identified himself as an Undercover Narcotics Officer. Deckard was allegedly requesting information on current Greene County criminal investigations.
Deckard was taken to the Greene County Jail and charged with Impersonating a Police Officer (D Felony) and for Driving While Suspended (Misdemeanor).
Those who impersonate police officers erode the public’s trust in law enforcement and may endanger unsuspecting people, notes the press release. There are tips you can use to protect yourself during a traffic stop or encounter while helping your police officers do their jobs.
Tips for Protecting You from Law Enforcement Impersonators
Instead of a primary and general election, the town of Bloomfield opts for the use of a town caucus for the establishment of its town council members.
Marjorie Cullison, Greene County Voter Registration Clerk, explained that Bloomfield Town Council candidates have until noon on Aug. 3 to file.
“Some [candidates] have been out and about and have mentioned that they will be filing,” she added.
A caucus is an option for towns with populations less than 3,500 people. Filing times for the current caucus are from noon on Jan. 7 to noon on Aug. 3.
Additionally with a town caucus, the political party will call the caucus if opposition for a certain office exists within the party, Cullison explained.
“If there’s no opposition, they don’t have to call a caucus. If there’s no opposition, then that person’s name will automatically go on the ballot,” she added. “If there is opposition for an office within the party, then they call a caucus. It’s similar to a primary only in the fact that only people who are affiliated with that party can come to that caucus and vote.”
The town of Bloomfield has in the past held such caucuses at the Bloomfield Fire Department.
Furthermore, each political party will announce the date and time of future caucuses with applicable caucuses being held no later than Aug. 21.
In other Greene County election matters, Worthington, Linton, and Jasonville will all hold primaries on May 5.
The Indiana General Assembly is currently in session. This is a budget year and a long session that will not conclude until the end of March. During this session, as during any long session the legislators will be developing a state budget for 2016 and 2017. The development of a new state budget could also bring changes to the school funding formula. In crafting a new state budget and school funding formula, the state legislators must decide how to allocate state resources. Public education is approximately 51% of the state budget.
This year the state legislature is debating some changes in the school funding formula. In each budget cycle, winners and losers emerge from these deliberations. In Governor Pence’s State of the State address, he called for public education to be allocated $200 million additional dollars. However, the allocation of these additional funds should be somewhat concerning to you as a parent of a student attending a traditional public school. Governor Pence wants $159 million of the $200 million to go toward funding for traditional public schools. In Indiana, there are 954,904 students attending traditional public schools like Bloomfield Elementary and Bloomfield Jr.-Sr. High School. The average increase for these students would be $166.49 per student. In comparison, Indiana has 62,356 students attending private schools utilizing Choice Scholarships or enrolled in Charter Schools. Governor Pence wanted to allocate $41 million dollars to the 62,356 students receiving Choice Scholarships or enrolling in Charter Schools. The average increase for these students would be $657.51 dollars per student. So, 20% of the additional funding would go to 6 % of the students in the state of Indiana.
Additionally, Governor Pence would like to allocate additional funds to go to maintenance or transportation of Charter School students that would bring the total additional funds per student to $1,500. Traditional public schools have a local property tax levy paid by property owners that funds transportation and maintenance of buildings. Charter schools and private schools don’t receive a local property tax levy. It appears as if a portion of the revenue generated from sales tax receipts and income tax will now go to fund the transportation and maintenance of Charter Schools and Private Schools in Governor Pence’s proposed budget. At the conclusion of the last legislative session, the Indiana General Assembly forgave approximately $93 million dollars in loans to Charter Schools. Many of the charter schools are operated by for profit corporations housed outside the state of Indiana. So, a portion of your tax dollars was sent to operators of Charter Schools whose corporations are centered in other states. Indiana laws are currently on the books mandating traditional public school corporations sell unused schools to the Indiana Department of Education for $1.00. Local property tax payers paid for the construction of these buildings, but the school district must liquidate the building to the Department of Education once the building is no longer in use. The Indiana Department of Education in turn leases these buildings to charter schools.
The Indiana General Assembly will consider making changes to another part of the school funding formula referred to as the Complexity Grant. The Complexity Grant provides additional funding to schools that have larger percentages of students that receive Free and Reduced Textbooks. A family can qualify for Free and Reduced Textbooks if the total family income falls below a certain level. In Greene County, Bloomfield School District receives the fewest dollars per student in comparison with the other schools in the county. Below is the 2015 funding level per school district in Greene County:
School District – Foundation Funding – Complexity Grant – Total Funding
Bloomfield – $4,607.90 – $1,007.30 – $5,615.30
Eastern Greene – $4,842.30 – $1,201.30 – $6,403.70
Linton-Stockton – $4,587.00 – $1,032.50 – $5,619.50
Shakamak – $4,890.40 – $1,299.00 – $6,189.40
White River Valley – $4,997.20 – $1,218.30 – $6,216.00
The discussion over the Complexity Grant is due to some school districts with wealthier patrons getting as low as $254 dollars per student in complexity funds. These school districts typically have lower percentages of students receiving Free and Reduced textbooks. Again, when changes occur in school funding, winners and losers emerge from the changes. A change in how the Complexity Grant is divided could negatively or positively impact your son or daughter. A negative impact on Bloomfield School District could result in larger class sizes and fewer classes for students to choose at Bloomfield Jr.-Sr. High School.
Indiana is moving to a Foundation Funding for all schools. The 2015 Foundation Funding amount was $4,587 dollars per student. As you can see, Bloomfield School District was $20.90 above Foundation Funding for 2015. During the next three years, Bloomfield School District will lose $20.90 per student in Foundation Funding until Foundation Funding is achieved. In Greene County, Linton is the only county school corporation at the foundation funding level. However, if major changes occur in the Complexity Index the changes might negatively impact Bloomfield School District. As a result, tough decisions might have to be made locally by the Bloomfield School District Board of School Trustees.
The last area in which changes could occur in the 2016 school funding formula is in the area of vocational funding. During 2015, Bloomfield School District will receive $97,000 from the Vocational Grant. The funding for the Vocational Grant is generated currently by the number of students enrolled in vocational classes. Approximately 70% of the vocational funding for Bloomfield School District is generated by enrollment of students in one hour vocational classes. Bloomfield’s rural location makes it difficult for students to enroll in a career center for multiple hour classes. The length of travel time to the nearest career centers in Bloomington, Bedford, and Vincennes would result in students losing class time for transportation to these centers. Most students cannot afford to lose an hour or more per day in their class schedule for travel to and from a career center. One of the early proposals for Vocational Funding would have eliminated funding for one hour classes. As a result, Bloomfield School District would have lost approximately $37,000 of the current $97,000 in vocational funding. A second proposal would have cut funding of the one hour classes from $250 per student to $150 per student. This would result in a loss of approximately $15,000 in funding. In comparison, salary and benefits for a first year teacher is equivalent to approximately $45,000. So, the loss of this funding would have resulted in the loss of a portion of the one hour vocational classes currently offered to students. The amount of dollars for the appropriation for vocational education has not been increased since 2000. Traditional public school corporations have countered to increase funding to the vocational education appropriation and implement the proposed changes by Governor Pence with the additional dollars appropriated to vocational education above the $100 million dollar appropriation level. So, if the appropriation is increased by $25 million, the proposed changes would be administered with this $25 million additional dollars.
The purpose of my letter is to urge you to communicate with your local representative concerning these issues. Please feel free to express your support or concern over any of the issues associated with the school funding formula and the state budget for 2016 and 2017. Below is the email address for the Indiana General Assembly members representing Bloomfield School District:
Indiana House of Representatives –
200 W. Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Indiana Senate –
200 W. Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
If you have questions about any of the issues discussed in this letter, please feel free to contact me. My email address is email@example.com. You can also contact me via telephone at 812-384-4507, Ext. #144.
Daniel A. Sichting
Customers in Linton should experience improved mobile Internet coverage and voice performance as a result of continued investment and innovation by AT&T. The company has completed a key initiative in its ongoing efforts to enhance the wireless capacity and performance of its mobile Internet network in Linton.
“As part of the Linton community, we’re always looking for new opportunities to provide an enhanced customer experience, and our investment in the local wireless network is just one way we’re accomplishing that,” said Bill Soards, president of AT&T Indiana. “We’re working to build a 4G network that’s smarter and better to provide our customers with a superior mobile Internet experience.”
According to an AT&T press release, the network enhancement adds new “carriers,” to the Linton cell site to more efficiently manage available spectrum and increase mobile Internet capacity. The expansion helps manage ever-growing demand for mobile Internet services by allocating more network resources for AT&T’s mobile Internet network.
“In rural communities like ours, this kind of investment is crucial,” said Linton Mayor John Wilkes. “Improved mobile Internet coverage allows our citizens and businesses to get things done quickly and efficiently, and we’re thrilled to hear that AT&T is bringing the latest technologies our way.”
AT&T invested nearly $1.75 billion in its wireless and wired networks in Indiana between 2011 through 2013, driving a wide range of upgrades to enhance speed, reliability, coverage and performance for residents and business customers. AT&T 4G LTE was launched in Bloomington in April 2012, and expanded to Linton in Oct. 2014. Its 4G LTE network covers more than 300 million people.
SPENCER – (Owen County) A Joint Task Force investigation to find an escapee, led State Troopers, Local and Federal Law Enforcement to a residence near Spencer earlier today. Sean P. Killion, 42 of Winslow, IN escaped from a contracted transport unit while en route back to Indiana from Florida. His escape occurred in Cartersville, Georgia.
The investigation revealed information that Killion was at a residence located at 25 Ashley Drive in Eastern Owen County. Killion was wanted on Federal Warrant for Conspiracy to Deal Methamphetamine in Excess of 500 Grams (2 Federal Indictments). Killion was also wanted on an Indiana State Parole Warrant for Dealing Methamphetamine.
Agencies assisting in the investigation included the United States Marshall’s Task Force, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Daviess County Sheriff’s Department, Washington Police Department, Martin County Sheriff’s Department and the Indiana Department of Corrections Police Department.
Under the Law, criminal charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Long-time Linton City Councilman Nigel Lehman was honored during a special reception at Linton City Hall on Wednesday.
Lehman, who served on the council from 1995 to 2014, served with former Linton Mayors Jimmie K. Wright, and Tom Jones, as well as with current Linton Mayor John Wilkes.
Mayor Wilkes expressed his gratitude to Lehman as well as reminisced about times gone by, noting that he and Lehman have been friends since youth.
“Nigel and I go back a long time,” he said, later adding that as boys the two fished together many times and could often be found hanging out at the local gas station in Dugger.
Fast forward to the present, and Wilkes noted Lehman’s hard work and efforts in keeping Linton’s A.M. Risher Pool afloat.
“I’m quite sure the pool wouldn’t be here today without Nigel,” Wilkes added.
During the reception, Lehman was also presented with a plaque from the city.
Lehman graciously thanked everyone for the honor and quipped, “I’m glad I lived long enough to get one. Maybe I’ll live long enough to get another one.”
In attendance were friends and family as well as some former and current city council members, several of which shared memories of Lehman.
City Council Member Jathan Wright noted that he and Lehman spent many evenings knocking on local doors for donations for the city’s pool.
Patti Jones, member of the Greene County Council, thanked Lehman for being a good steward of the city.
“We need a million more just like [Lehman]. I appreciate everything you’ve done Nigel,” Jones said, adding she was not only speaking for herself, but also for former Mayor Tom Jones.
J Ken Wright, son of former Mayor Jimmie K. Wright, also expressed his gratitude to Lehman.
“[Nigel] was one of the best [council members] that sat on Dad’s council…He was always contributing and he always cared,” Wright said.
Bloomington, Ind. – Bloomington firefighters Fred Matthews and Mark Webb will be retiring from the Bloomington Fire Department after more than 30 years of service on Feb. 16, the day before 115th year anniversary of the Bloomington Fire Department.
Matthews, retiring as a captain for 19 years, has been at the BFD for a total of 35 years since May 14, 1979. Webb, retiring as battalion chief for 17 years, has been at the BFD for a total of 36 years. Matthews said, “you can’t beat the public service and that satisfaction and gratification when you know that you have helped someone.
People look to you for your help and support. You truly do help people, which is the most satisfying thing.” Webb added, “this position has allowed me to provide well for my family over the years. It is an honorable profession, and I would not have done anything else. I am proud to have been a part of this profession.”
The two firefighters have worked together for over 30 years. Matthews and Webb recall the Z.B.T. fraternity house fire in 1984 during IU’s Homecoming, where they each went in different doors to find a person missing in the fire. Matthews had found the young man and it was also Matthews’ first fire.
The Bloomington Fire Department has also undergone many changes over the years. Matthews said that technology and fire science are the biggest changes. “You used to never have an air pack on when you went into a fire. Now you don’t go in without one,” said Matthews.
Webb agreed that technology was a major change as well the growing emphasis on education and safety. Webb added, “when you first came on, you did not wear breathing masks. Gear wasn’t as protective as it is now and there was not a whole lot of organization or fire command. Before, we had rubber gloves in fires. Now, we have leather gloves.”
Both Matthews and Webb spent most of their years at the main Bloomington Fire Department Headquarters and worked for four mayors and seven fire chiefs. They spent one third of their time at the department, working the 4th of July, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve.
Webb stated, “when you get to the state of our careers, the extra benefit and satisfaction we have is that we have seen a lot and done a lot. We get new hires in and watch them get an achievement, which is also satisfying. It is about taking your experiences and helping someone else.”
Chief Todd Easton added, “I wish Fred and Mark all the best with their retirement and future plans, but it comes with a great loss to the department. It’s difficult to replace seventy-one years of combined service, with the majority of that time holding positions as ranking officers. During this time, both have had numerous BFD members promoted throughout the years who served under their command, so even though they are both “retired,” their knowledge and leadership qualities still remain.”
Feb. 17 is the 115th anniversary for the Bloomington Fire Department. For more information on the Bloomington Fire Department, please go to http://bloomington.in.gov/ about-the-bfd.