City of Linton Honors Fallen Police Officer: Proclaims Feb. 7, 2015 as Fred Cromwell Day

Linton Police Officer Paul Clark, middle, sharing information about his research regarding the death of Fred Cromwell. Police Chief Troy Jerrell, at right, and Mayor John Wilkes, at left, also spoke during the honorary reception.

On Friday, Linton City Hall was the site of an honorary reception for the only Linton Police Officer to be killed in the line of duty.

Linton Mayor John Wilkes read a proclamation establishing Saturday, Feb. 7 as Fred Cromwell Day. Cromwell was killed in the line of duty 100 years ago after serving six days with the local department. He also served as the fire chief prior to serving as an officer.

Linton Police Chief Troy Jerrell thanked the packed room for the show of support regarding the proclamation.

“I would like to thank everyone for their support. This is what the small community is all about,” he said.

“[We] had never came across this information… I almost didn’t believe it at first,” Jerrell added, noting Linton Police Officer Paul Clark researched the matter.

Officer Clark then explained that all law enforcement officers make many sacrifices, but Cromwell is the only Linton Police Officer to have lost his life in the line of duty.

“Everyone here has made many sacrifices, but no one here has lost their lives,” Clark explained, noting his goal in researching the matter was to find out what really happened to Cromwell.

“I believe that sacrifices need to be recognized. People need to know that this sacrifice was made,” Clark also said.

During his research, Clark discovered several newspaper articles about the incident.

One such article from the Cincinnati Enquirer, noted Cromwell was shot and killed by two burglars whom he detected in the clothing store of Louis Friedman on Feb. 7, 1915. According to the same article, bloodhounds, owned by the Linton Police Department, lost the trail about three miles southeast of Linton, where the burglars stole two horses from James Reed, a farmer living in Lyons.

Another such article, from the Indianapolis News, noted that Cromwell was killed instantly during a revolver fight at the store. Furthermore, the article states Cromwell, a night policeman, was shot in the head and stomach and that his revolver displayed three empty cartridges. There were no witnesses to the scene, but persons aroused by the sound of shots, noted two men running away from the store. The robbers, in their flight, dropped a bag containing 13 pairs of shoes.

Frank Toricelli was arrested by police in Los Angeles in connection with Cromwell’s murder in March, 1915. He was later charged with the murder of Cromwell and served life in prison.

Saturday, Feb. 7 marked 100 years since Cromwell’s death.

Several members of Cromwell’s family were present during the proclamation reading. Becky Yung, Cromwell’s granddaughter, was one of them.

She explained that the story of her grandfather was well-known within the family, but that through Clark’s research additional details were uncovered.

“We learned that [Cromwell] was apprehended and sentenced to prison – that part we did not know,” Yung explained.

City of Linton Honors Fallen Police Officer: Proclaims Feb. 7, 2015 as Fred Cromwell Day

Linton Police Officer Paul Clark, middle, sharing information about his research regarding the death of Fred Cromwell. Police Chief Troy Jerrell, at right, and Mayor John Wilkes, at left, also spoke during the honorary reception.

On Friday, Linton City Hall was the site of an honorary reception for the only Linton Police Officer to be killed in the line of duty.

Linton Mayor John Wilkes read a proclamation establishing Saturday, Feb. 7 as Fred Cromwell Day. Cromwell was killed in the line of duty 100 years ago after serving six days with the local department. He also served as the fire chief prior to serving as an officer.

Linton Police Chief Troy Jerrell thanked the packed room for the show of support regarding the proclamation.

“I would like to thank everyone for their support. This is what the small community is all about,” he said.

“[We] had never came across this information… I almost didn’t believe it at first,” Jerrell added, noting Linton Police Officer Paul Clark researched the matter.

Officer Clark then explained that all law enforcement officers make many sacrifices, but Cromwell is the only Linton Police Officer to have lost his life in the line of duty.

“Everyone here has made many sacrifices, but no one here has lost their lives,” Clark explained, noting his goal in researching the matter was to find out what really happened to Cromwell.

“I believe that sacrifices need to be recognized. People need to know that this sacrifice was made,” Clark also said.

During his research, Clark discovered several newspaper articles about the incident.

One such article from the Cincinnati Enquirer, noted Cromwell was shot and killed by two burglars whom he detected in the clothing store of Louis Friedman on Feb. 7, 1915. According to the same article, bloodhounds, owned by the Linton Police Department, lost the trail about three miles southeast of Linton, where the burglars stole two horses from James Reed, a farmer living in Lyons.

Another such article, from the Indianapolis News, noted that Cromwell was killed instantly during a revolver fight at the store. Furthermore, the article states Cromwell, a night policeman, was shot in the head and stomach and that his revolver displayed three empty cartridges. There were no witnesses to the scene, but persons aroused by the sound of shots, noted two men running away from the store. The robbers, in their flight, dropped a bag containing 13 pairs of shoes.

Frank Toricelli was arrested by police in Los Angeles in connection with Cromwell’s murder in March, 1915. He was later charged with the murder of Cromwell and served life in prison.

Saturday, Feb. 7 marked 100 years since Cromwell’s death.

Several members of Cromwell’s family were present during the proclamation reading. Becky Yung, Cromwell’s granddaughter, was one of them.

She explained that the story of her grandfather was well-known within the family, but that through Clark’s research additional details were uncovered.

“We learned that [Cromwell] was apprehended and sentenced to prison – that part we did not know,” Yung explained.

Linton Police Department Plans Strong Presence to Deter Drunk Driving During March

Linton Police Department Car

Just as basketball is stirring up a great deal of activity this March, more than 250 Indiana law enforcement agencies are planning to launch action of their own. Beginning Friday, February 28, the Linton Police Department will initiate a major law enforcement effort to crack down on impaired and dangerous driving.

“We will have a strong and visible police presence aimed at deterring dangerous driving and getting impaired drivers off the street,” said Chief Troy Jerrell. “If you plan to drink alcohol– don’t drive. Designate a sober driver.”

The increased enforcement effort, which lasts through March 23, encompasses St. Patrick’s Day and many March sporting events. Last March, the Linton Police Department arrested five motorists for drunk, impaired, or dangerous driving.

Jerrell recommends these easy steps for a safe March and St. Patrick’s Day:

  • Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin.
  • Before drinking, designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home.
  • If you’re impaired, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.
  • If available, use your community’s sober ride program.
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local police.
  • If you know someone who is about to drive while impaired, take the keys and help that person make other arrangements to get to where he or she is going safely.

Linton-Stockton Schools Not on Lockdown

Linton-Stockton school miner logo

Despite initial newspaper reports of Linton-Stockton Schools being on lockdown on Thursday, Superintendent Nick Karazsia explained that they are simply employing heightened security to cut down on hallway traffic throughout the school day.

“What I consider a lockdown is when the school’s locked up and no one is getting in and no one is getting out. No one is moving and no one is going anywhere– the students are staying in their classrooms for the entire time it takes us to assess the situation and see what we need to do next,” he said.

That is not, however, what the school is currently doing.

“Our students are in their classes and when the bell rings they can change classes– on lockdown that would not be happening. They can go to lunch. What we’re doing is just controlling the amount of movement throughout the building during the day,” Karazsia continued.

That means once students are in their classrooms they are staying in their classrooms. If they need to go to the office, their locker, or the restroom, they are encouraged to make those trips between classes.

“There could be situations where someone doesn’t feel good or there’s an emergency situation and we’ll just coordinate that where the teacher will call the office and say, ‘Here’s the situation, I have a student who needs to see the nurse’.  And then they’ll work it out to get that student to see the nurse,” Karazsia explained.

The heightened security is in response to recent situations at Linton and Bloomfield Schools. Linton-Stockton Schools received information about a possible bomb threat on Monday and a Bloomfield student was taken into police custody Wednesday after an incident that involved a threat on a bathroom wall.

“You know what? It doesn’t hurt us to err on the side of caution and maybe just have it be a little bit safer. Let’s just increase our security a little bit,” Karazsia stated.

Linton Police Chief Troy Jerrell agreed, calling the decision a “wise move”.

“I think it’s a good call. Bloomfield seems to be getting hit with things, too. We don’t think they’re connected, but we are investigating and it’s much better to be safe than sorry in these situations. I support Nick 100 percent on his decision,” he said.

 

Updated: Two Women Accused of Criminal Confinement, Battery Now in Custody

Submitted photo: Cynthia Cox

Update:

The Indiana State Police, along with the Linton Police Department, the Worthington Police Department, and the Greene County Sheriff’s Department captured the two women who were accused of battery and criminal confinement early Saturday evening.

Kathleen E. Featherstone and Cynthia R. Cox are alleged to have repeatedly attacked another woman, struck her with a vehicle and then drove away.

Arrest warrants had previously been issued for Featherstone and Cox for Criminal Confinement, a Class C Felony and Battery Resulting in Bodily Injury, a Class A Misdemeanor.

The Linton Police Department investigation had revealed the alleged victim in this case had several injuries to her face including bruising, bleeding, redness and swelling. Officers were also able to determine the vehicle involved was a white 2005 four-door Chevrolet Cavalier.

An anonymous call to 911 from an alert citizen who spotted the two women at the Dollar General Store Saturday night resulted in their arrests without incident.

Linton PD Chief Troy Jerrell said if anyone has any further information about this investigation, they are asked to contact the Linton Police Department at 812-847-4411 or contact Greene County Crime Stoppers by calling 812-TIP-LINE, (812-847-5463) or toll free at 866-446-4672.

Original Post, Feb. 7, 10:07 p.m.

The Linton Police Department and the Indiana State Police are searching for two women who are accused of repeatedly attacking another woman and then striking her with a vehicle.

Warrants have been issued for Cynthia R. Cox and Kathleen E. Featherstone for criminal confinement, a class C felony, and battery resulting in bodily injury, a class A misdemeanor.

According to Indiana State Police, LPD officers interviewed the alleged victim and found several injuries to her face including bruising, bleeding, redness, and swelling.  They also determined that the vehicle involved was a 2005 Chevrolet Cavalier.

In a news release, LPD Chief Troy Jerrell said that Greene County Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of Cox and Featherstone.

Jerrell stated that if anyone has any information about this incident or the location of the two suspects, they are asked to contact the LPD at 812-847-4411 or Greene County Crime Stoppers at 812-TIP-LINE (812-847-5463) or toll free at 866-446-4672.

 

Final Candidate Filings

Sheriff

Michael L. Hasler, Republican

Walter Rannix Tinsley, Democrat

Josh Goodman, Democrat

Assessor

Willard Neill, Republican

Auditor

Ronald J. Hamilton, Democrat

Auditor Patty Baker, Republican

Clerk

Susan Fowler, Republican

Richland Township Trustee

Virgil O. Davis, Republican

Jo Ann Hanauer Carmichael, Republican

Jackie Winstead, Democrat

Coroner

Brian F. Gainey, Democrat

Anthony “Tony” Russell, Republican

George D. Ockerman, Republican

Sherri S. Wilson, Republican

Charles D. “Chuck” Gwyn, Democrat

Beech Creek Township Trustee

Gregory A. (Greg) Thacker, Republican

Richland 2 Precinct Committeman

Brian F. Gainey, Democrat

Richland Township Board

Randall L. Brown, Republican

Martin Burcham, Republican

Kenneth D. Mendenhall, Republican

Roger B. Doane, Democrat

County Council District 1

Joe Huntington, Republican

Taylor Township Board

John Fowler, Republican

George D. Ockerman, Republican

Cass Township Board

Lucas Sipes, Democrat

Rebecca Arthur, Democrat

Cass Township Trustee

Jack Johnson, Democrat

Superior Court Judge

Dena Benham Martin, Republican

Stockton Township Trustee

Donna Jean Smith, Democrat

Kathy Markle, Democrat

Recorder

Stuart A. Dowden, Republican

Darrell E. Arthur, Democrat

Commissioner District 3

Rick Graves, Republican

Wright Township Board

Nolan J. “Jack” Wilson, Democrat

Robert Boruff, Democrat

Jay B. Criss, Democrat

Highland Township Trustee

Brian Kollmeyer, Republican

Stockton Township Board

Shadley R. Cox, Democrat

Monty D. Harp, Democrat

George N. Skeel, Democrat

James A. Gregory, Democrat

Jerry L. Ellett, Democrat

Wright 2 Precinct Committeman

Peggy Anne Sluder, Democrat

Jefferson Township Trustee

Risa R. Dyar, Republican

Wright 3 Precinct Committeman

Roy L. Terrell, Sr., Democrat

County Council District 2

Michael E. Williams, Democrat

Kermit E. Holtsclaw, Democrat

Grant Township Trustee

Melonie Graves, Republican

Center 2 Precinct Committeman 

Kermit E. Holtsclaw, Democrat

State Delegate

Kermit E. Holtsclaw, Democrat

Willard Neill, Republican

Donald Otto Prow, Republican

Jackson Township Board

Buddy D. Fields, Republican

Paul A. (Buck) Cullison, Republican

County Council District 3

William (Hal) Harp, Democrat

Grant Precinct Committeman

Troy R. Jerrell, Democrat

Smith Township Trustee

Terry Blanton, Republican

Fairplay Township Trustee

Aleta Crowe, Republican

Jefferson Township Board

Charles A. Strickler, Republican

Jeffery (Jeff) Swedran, Republican

Janet S. Cox, Republican

Vern L. Spoor, Sr., Republican

Prosecuting Attorney

Jarrod D. Holtsclaw, Republican

Stockton 4 Precinct Committeman

Linda D. Bedwell, Democrat

Wright Township Trustee

Carolyn “Sue” Hubbell, Republican

Stockton 2 Precinct Committeman

Monty D. Harp, Democrat

Fairplay Township Board

Terry L. Koons, Democrat

Sharon A. Holtsclaw, Republican

Michael McKee, Republican

Fairplay Precinct Committeman

Terry L. Koons, Democrat

Stockton 6 Precinct Committeman

Tammy Wright, Democrat

Grant Township Board

Charles E. Hines, Republican

Keith J. Jones, Republican

Daniel L. Emery, Republican

Jackson Township Trustee

Sandy Fields, Democrat

Richland 3 Precinct Committeman

Randall Smith, Democrat

Center Township Board

Bernadene Holtsclaw, Democrat

Sharon McKinley, Democrat

Roscoe Raines, Democrat

Garry “Spec” Jackson, Republican

Beech Creek Township Board  

John C. Sherfield, Republican

William “Bill” Watkins, Republican

Larry L. Shute, Republican

Center Township Trustee

Steve Durham, Democrat

Stockton 3 Precinct Committeman  

Jeff Lehman, Democrat

Stockton 1 Precinct Committeman  

Kay A. Sullivan, Democrat

County Council District 4

Michael Riggleman, Democrat

Jonas Uland, Republican

Washington 2 Precinct Committeman  

Tom Taylor Robison, Democrat

Richland Township Board Roger B. Doane, Democrat

Stafford Township Trustee

Curtis Anderson, Republican

Wright 5 Precinct Committeman

Robert Boruff, Democrat

Republican

Taylor Township Trustee

Chuck Crouch, Republican

Worthington Town Board At Large

Malcom “Macky”Stahl, Republican

Tommy Cox, Republican

Stockton 5 Precinct Committeman  

Curtis Todd, Jr, Democrat

Highland Township Board  

Tyler Byers, Republican

Brad King, Republican

Washington Township Trustee

Jay Kaho, Republican

Washington Township Board

Scott Kaho, Republican

Tracy Hasler, Democrat

Stockton 7 Precinct Committeman

Dave Shaw, Democrat

Richland 1 Precinct Committeman

Mary Puntney, Democrat

Greene County Crime Stoppers Helps Law Enforcement Officials Solve Crimes

file photo

The Jasonville Police Department is investigating the death of 25-year-old Joshua A. Ray, of Jasonville, whose body was found early on the morning of New Year’s Day.

Meanwhile, the Linton Police Department is working on a case involving recent vandalism on the east side of town. The crimes include various acts such as destroying or stealing items from people’s yards and slashing tires. The LPD has some ‘persons of interest’, but would still like to receive more information.

Both departments are asking anyone with information regarding their investigations to contact the same organization– Greene County Crime Stoppers.

“Crime Stoppers has helped us solve a lot of crimes throughout the years, and it’s another tool in our toolbox to help us accomplish our job. I’ve been the spokesperson here for years now and I’ve seen a lot of good come out of it,” noted Linton Police Chief Troy Jerrell.

He explained that Crime Stoppers is an organization made up of civilians who donate their time and efforts to raising money to pay for tips given to law enforcement officials. People are able to leave tips safely and anonymously, without fear of retaliation from a criminal, and if a tip leads to an arrest or conviction the person who provided it receives a cash reward.

If you would like to earn a reward for a tip, you provide Crime Stoppers with the name of your favorite cartoon character when you share your information about the crime.

“Say your favorite character is Daffy Duck– it will be your responsibility to kind of keep an eye on the media to see if John Doe has been arrested based on the information you’ve given, because we have no way of contacting you as part of the whole keeping you anonymous thing,” said Jerrell. “We don’t have Caller ID and we don’t keep track of the information being turned in, because that way it can never be subpoenaed from us in the court. If you see John Doe getting arrested for the information you gave, you just call Crime Stoppers back and say that you’re Daffy Duck and back in June you called them about John Doe and wonder if he was arrested as the result of your tip. We’ll research it, and if he was we’ll set up a time and day to drop off some money and you can pick it up.”

Jerrell added that fairly vague information can sometimes be very helpful for the police, but that the more specific the information, the better their chances of making an arrest.

“’John Doe does drugs’ is nice information to know, but probably isn’t going to lead to a reward for the tip,” he explained. “The who, what, where, when, and how is important. The more detailed information we can get on that increases the chances that there’s going to be an arrest made [on the tip] and therefore that [the person who provided the tip] will receive the reward.”

If you have information on a crime, you may call the tip line at 847-5463 or 1-866-446-4672, or submit a tip online. You can also check out the new Greene County Crime Stoppers Facebook page.

Crime Stoppers is funded through community donations, and you may make a donation through their website or Facebook page.

Updated: Areas of Linton Experiencing Power Outages

file photo

Update 8:20 p.m.

Linton Police Chief Troy Jerrell gave an update that stated “The current power outages on the NW and NE section of town are being worked on by the crews. They estimate 1 hour for the NW section and approximately 45 minutes on the NE section.”

Update 2:56 p.m.:

According to LPD Chief Troy Jerrell,  ”Apparently a tree fell on a line and they are cutting it up and removing the debris…”   Power should be restored within the next forty-five minutes. If your power is not restored within an hour and fifteen minutes, please contact the LPD at 847-4411 as it could be an isolated problem.

Original Post:

Several areas of Linton are currently experiencing power outages.

According to Linton Police Chief Troy Jerrell, a main transformer malfunction caused the outages, and crews are working to fix the issue.

Right now it is difficult to get through to the LPD by phone, but as soon as Jerrell has an estimate as to when power will be restored he will let everyone know.

Update: Two Official Reports on Male Salesperson Entering Homes Filed Last Night

stock photo

Despite Linton Police Chief Troy Jerrell’s earlier statement that no official reports of a male ‘salesperson’ entering homes in the downtown area were made, he has now discovered two reports on the matter were taken Monday night.

According to Jerrell, a male and female, of possible Middle Eastern descent, were reportedly selling cleaning supplies and/or vacuum cleaners in the downtown area.

The male was also reported to have entered two residences at will.

The male is described as narrow-shouldered and 5’8 or 5’9 in height. He is also said to have dark hair that is shoulder length and dark eyes.

“Originally, it was said that he was a salesperson, but after further investigation, we don’t believe he was selling anything,” Jerrell said.

Apparently, in one incident, the male was quite aggressive and repeatedly asked the homeowner if she was home alone.

“He had a bottle of Dawn dish soap and [also] asked if she bought American products… He wouldn’t take no for an answer,” Jerrell added.

Law enforcement officials do not believe he was going door to door.

“He was not walking the street going house to house,” Jerrell said.

Jerrell also said that sales permits are approved through city hall and he has not been made aware of any recent permit approvals.

“Typically, when the city approves a permit, the city contacts me. I’ve not been contacted for a door-to-door salesperson,” he reiterated.

Jerrell stressed that he doesn’t believe the person to be legitimate.

“If anybody sees this person walking or driving around, please get his license plate number and contact the LPD. Be observant of this person. I’m not trying to startle anyone. He’s not attempted to hurt anyone, but he’s not taking no for an answer. I think this is something the people need to be aware of,” he added.

The couple was also reportedly in a red van.

 

Linton Council Approves New Water Rate Ordinance

Linton Water Tower

The Linton City Council held a special hearing before their regular meeting Monday evening and Buzz Krohn, owner of O.W. Krohn and Associates, LLP, explained the city’s proposed water rate adjustment. Later, in the regular meeting, the council approved the ordinance.

The $3.8 million water improvement project Linton planned will now be split into a couple of different pieces, with a major portion of the project being deferred from between six to eight years, due to water supply issues with the town of Dugger.

Krohn said Linton was faced with the potential of losing Dugger as a wholesale customer, and was asked to present Dugger with a compromise on their rates. He noted that a task force has been working on this since around June, and that the city will still be making critically important improvements at the water treatment facility.

General Manager of Linton Municipal Utilities Brent Slover explained that a structural engineer assessed three in-ground concrete structures at the facility, and found that they are not in good condition, so the city will move forward with construction of an aboveground storage tank and most of the rest of the project will be delayed until Linton is closer to the end of its current indebtedness.

“With regards to the wholesale rates,” added Krohn, “ we didn’t want to have one wholesale customer basically hold us hostage and not treat all of our wholesale customers the same. That didn’t seem to be fair.”

The new rate for all wholesale customers will be $2.55 per 1,000 gallons of water. That rate will not be increased for inflation or any other reason for a minimum of 3 years into the wholesale contract.

“Beyond that, they would be subject to any further adjustment that our retail customers would be subjected to, albeit if we were doing distribution system improvements or those types of improvements that would not necessarily be benefitting the wholesale customers then those would be treated differently,” Krohn clarified.

Retail customers within the City of Linton can expect an 18 percent increase in water rates to offset the reduction in the wholesale rates and improvements to the water treatment plant. Minimum water users, who receive 2,000 gallons a month, will pay an additional $1.52 per water bill. Average users, who receive 4,000 gallons a month, will see their bills increase from $16.84 to $19.88 each month.

Retail customers who live outside the city limits will now pay an additional 72 cents per thousand gallons of water, and Krohn noted that there are additional costs associated with pumping the water outside of the city.

Krohn said Linton’s retail rates will still be very competitive with the rates of other communities in the area. Bloomfield charges $18.22 for 4,000 gallons, Jasonville charges $21.40, and Sullivan customers pay $31.45.

“We’re glad that Dugger has decided to stay with Linton. We think that the prospect of losing them as a customer would have been bad for everybody, and we’re not so sure it would have been good for them, either,” Krohn stressed.

He added that although a few signatures need to be put on the agreement with Dugger that is basically just a formality.

During the regular meeting, Matt Sword of the Southern Indiana Development Commission (SIDC) noted that the city received one Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for an Economic Development Planning Grant. The RFQ was from the Strategic Development Group in Bloomington. Sword said he has worked with them on similar projects in the past and they do a pretty good job, and that the next step is an interview process with the group.

After the city makes a decision about the Strategic Development Group they can begin moving forward with the grant.

The council approved the following invoices for the wastewater treatment plant:

• SIDC- $4,800

• Triad Associates Engineering- $24,000

• Graves Plumbing- $131,638.50

• Insituform Technologies- $8,899.83

They also approved a change order increasing the length of time for the division two part of the project by 60 days.

Linton Police Chief Troy Jerrell noted that there were not too many traffic accidents during the recent snowfall.

Mayor John Wilkes thanked the utility department for their hard work over the last few weeks, and Council Member Linda Bedwell added that the guys on the trash truck have been working through the bad weather, too.

 

 

 

Linton-Stockton Music Department Gives Update on Activities

high school resized

The Linton-Stockton Board of School Trustees met Monday evening.

Superintendent Nick Karazsia first called for a moment of silence for former school employee Ray Spencer, who passed away on November 6th.

The board held a first reading on athletic policy changes that include different lettering processes for baseball, softball, and track. The next reading will be held at their next meeting, when action will be taken on the matter.

Board Member Bob Craig noted that the coaches seem to have given a lot of consideration to the changes and Karazsia added that different sports need to have different lettering criteria.

“It’s easier in football to send someone in for a play and get a quarter, whereas in baseball it’s more difficult to do. So I think they solved that because it gives them more flexibility,” said Karazsia.

Karazsia then suggested the board agree to continue their current property and casualty insurance through December of 2014, since that will get them through their building projects. The board agreed.

Band Teacher Michael Puckett noted that Choir/Music Teacher Samantha Writtenhouse, who could not be at the meeting due to illness, has been working on the feeder program for the musical theater, recruiting and working with students from fifth grade on.

Puckett also mentioned that three students from Linton were selected for the 2014 Indiana State Honors Chorus: Jeffrey Gentry, Jenessa Lanham, and Brooklyn Franklin. New fine arts electives for this school year include a theater arts class and a music theater course.

Puckett said the band has averaged one project a week from the time school started, including football games, fundraisers, and a Veterans Day program. He requested that he get the junior high band room back, since it is difficult to move things between the facilities.

Karazsia mentioned that another trip to Lucas Oil Stadium for the band would be nice, and Puckett said they were planning on it.

Board President Ralph Witty gave a school construction update, noting that a lot of steel has been erected and the exterior concrete block walls are almost finished. They are waiting on a pump truck to pour the upper concrete floors. Three wings of the elementary are completed, and the fourth is coming along on schedule.

The board voted to approve the employment of High School Boys’ Golf Coach Chad Anderson, High School Assistant Softball Coach Stephanie Fougerousse, and High School Volunteer Softball Coach Katie West. Media Specialist Joan Warrick submitted a letter asking to retire at the end of the 2013/2014 school year, and the board accepted her request.

Board Member Clint House asked that the school look into parking violations in no parking zones. Karazsia responded that he had talked with Police Chief Troy Jerrell, and in light of cutbacks to the department it is difficult for them to devote a lot of attention to the matter. Attorney John Rowe said he would bring a report on the issue to the next meeting.

 

Two-Year 911 Dispatch Budget Contract for Linton will be Presented to County Council

11 June, 2013  Linton Police 003

County Council President Ed Cullison, County Commissioner Ed Michael, Sheriff Terry Pierce, Sheriff’s Department E-911 Coordinator Karen Oliphant, Linton Mayor John Wilkes, and Linton Police Chief Troy Jerrell met Thursday afternoon to discuss Linton’s 911 dispatch budget.

A new state statute requires the county to justify the amount of money Linton receives for its dispatch department, which only generates a little over $15,000 a year. The sheriff’s department receives all 911 calls made from cell phones, and although Linton only answers 10 percent of the landline 911 calls within the county it has been receiving $66,000 a year, which equals 30 percent of the county’s landline revenue.

At the last 911 budget expenditure meeting Cullison informed Linton representatives that their funding would decrease, and on Thursday he offered the group a couple of options including letting the sheriff’s department receive all 911 calls.

Pierce noted that in his opinion having one receiving center for the county is not good for the citizens because the increase in the number of calls that would need to be transferred would lead to problems, but the entire group agreed that the state will eventually make that option mandatory.

Cullison stated that although it is not his decision, he believed the best option was a three-year contract that would fund the city on a graduated scale where Linton would receive $25,000 for 2014, $20,000 for 2015, and $15,000 for 2016.

“If we average all those out it’s $20,000 a year, which is $5,000 a year more than you’re putting into it. The county is supporting your dispatch center $5,000 a year,” he explained to Wilkes and Jerrell.

Wilkes requested that the county only halve Linton’s funding and Cullison responded that he cannot justify $33,000 to the state.

“If you take it all away from us, then some of the services we’re providing we’re not going to be able to continue to do,” Wilkes noted.

Cullison replied that he had hit the nail on the head.

“The state is coming and saying ‘you cannot use the funds from this to supplement other stuff’, just like we have to have separate accounting for COIT now they’re making us accountable for the 911 fund,” he explained, adding that the state statute recommends going with a graduated step down in funding.

Jerrell pointed out that dispatch is a 24-hour service and no matter how many calls are received someone must be there all the time, so that should factor into Linton’s funding.

Pierce said he personally would like to see Linton keep one dispatcher because he believes that would be beneficial, but added that if he had to justify that funding he might have a hard time doing so.

“If the county, as a group, said that we have a choice and we can take the 911 calls and answer them all for $15,000 or they can take this number of calls and we’ll give them $35,000, that’s a no-brainer. If the council didn’t agree that we should answer all 911 calls then they’re not good at business. So I hope there can be some agreement worked here so that one of the dispatchers can stay.”

Cullison then asked what everyone thought about a two-year contract that would pay Linton $25,000 the first year and $20,000 the second year. After the second year they could reexamine the matter.

Pierce added that after this contract he thinks there should be more discussion about the county going to one 911 dispatch center, because there is no use waiting until the state makes them do it.

After more discussion, Cullison explained that he could not justify giving Linton more than $25,000 for 2014. He added that he thought the dollar amount of the third year would be immaterial since the state will have mandated that the county move to a single 911 dispatch center.

Pierce noted that if the number of landline phones in Linton continues to drop the county will not keep putting money into something that is not bringing money back in.

“It’s in your ballpark,” Wilkes eventually stated. “I can only ask—that’s all I can do.”

Eventually the group agreed to present a two-year contract to the County Council. The proposal calls for Linton to receive $25,000 in 2014 and $20,000 in 2015.

Read about the September 911 dispatch budget meeting here, and the October meeting here.

 

 

 

Linton Council Considers Economic Development Planning Grant, Storm Water Project

Stock photo taken June 19th, 2013

The Linton City Council met Tuesday evening.

Council members voted to vacate a portion of C Street consisting of about 25.5 feet between 10th Street NE to the west and an alleyway to the east so the existing situation can continue with good ownership of the underlying land on the part of the adjoining property owners.

Next, a Southern Indiana Development Commission (SIDC) representative presented the council with a plaque commemorating forty years of SIDC and Linton working together. Mayor John Wilkes thanked him, noting that SIDC has really great people to work with.

The city is eligible for a $40,000 Economic Development Planning Grant, which would take an inventory of the entire city and look at economic development needs and the potential for industrial parks. The next step towards getting the grant would be to hire a consultant to make a plan for the city, and the council was informed that any firm that is interested in consulting must submit a Request for Qualifications by the next council meeting, since the city will select a consultant based on qualifications so their plan will be within the budget of what the grant will allow.

The council also discussed the possibility of a storm water project with SIDC. In 2008, flooding impacted Indiana counties including Greene County and money to improve the infrastructure of any community within the affected counties is still available. That money will be put towards storm water projects, probably sometime late next year, and could be useful to address flooding on the east side of Linton.

There is not much information available on the funds yet, but the city could take a few preliminary steps to qualify for the money.

The mayor noted that after the flooding this July the Indiana Department of Transportation came to Linton to do an engineering study that should be given to him by the end of this week, and that when he gets that study he will look at proceeding with the project.

The council approved invoices including:

• $4,800 to SIDC for the wastewater plant

• $400,178.57 to Graves Plumbing for the wastewater plant

• A Change Order of $21,211.63 to Insituform Technologies for the wastewater plant

• A Change Order of $63,208.70 to Graves Plumbing for the wastewater plant

General Manager of Linton Municipal Utilities Brent Slover noted that the wastewater project is still within budget and in pretty good shape.

Linton Police Chief Troy Jerrell noted that people trying to raise their credit card limits during the Christmas season can fall prey to fraudulent email scams. He also warned that there have been recent thefts from people’s porches, and advised everyone not to keep anything valuable outdoors.

 

October 30-31 Trick-or-Treating in Linton

Halloween will be celebrated from 6 to 9 p.m. on October 30th and 31st this year. With the spook fest becoming more popular, and taking up most of the time on Thursday for would be trick-or-treaters, we will have it on the 30th as well.

As always, we ask those who are wanting to participate to have their porch lights on and for those who are not participating to leave them off during these hours. Children and parents are asked to ONLY go where there is a porch light lit, as well as to wear reflective type clothing or have a flash light so vehicle traffic can see you while traveling.

Likewise, we ask anyone operating a vehicle to drive with extra caution on the side streets during these hours to avoid any serious accidents. Anyone caught driving recklessly while pedestrians are present can potentially face stiff fines and jail time, depending on the severity.

We hope everyone has a SAFE and Happy Halloween.

County and Linton Officials Discuss Cuts to Linton’s 911 Budget

11 June, 2013  Linton Police 003

Linton dispatchers answer 10 percent of landline 911 calls within the county, while the Sheriff’s Department responds to the other 90 percent of landline calls and all 911 calls made from cell phones. Linton has previously received $66,000 a year from county 911 funds, which amounts to 30 percent of the county’s landline revenue.

A new state statute forces the county to justify 911 expenditures, however, and during a 911 budget expenditure meeting on Thursday afternoon, County Council President Ed Cullison explained that next year the City of Linton will not be receiving that much funding.

At the last meeting, Sheriff Terry Pierce suggested that Linton Mayor John Wilkes and Police Chief Troy Jerrell look at what is physically done during 911 calls in order to get a better idea of how much money Linton might need, or be allowed to receive, from the county funds. This money can only be used to pay 911 dispatchers for the 911 dispatch work they do, and not to fund other duties they may have.

This Thursday, Jerrell indicated that since a 911 dispatcher must be present at all times, the entire time they are at work should qualify as doing 911 dispatch duties.

“That’s why I suggested, when I talked to you last time, that you try to gather that data and put those things together so there’s an explanation of specifically what your 911 dispatcher does that’s not just on the phone,” answered Pierce.

Jerrell responded that you still have to have someone sitting in that chair waiting to answer those calls and dispatch those calls no matter what, and the sheriff said that if the money can only be used for specific purposes the county has to explain those specific purposes in order to satisfy the new statute.

Jerrell said he had brought a breakdown of costs that included percentages of the time Linton dispatchers took per call and how much the dispatch-specific utilities are.

Cullison then asked how much money Linton was requesting.

“I think everybody’s agreed that it can’t be funded in the amount that it has in the past,” Cullison stated. The figures aren’t there to substantiate that, so what are you proposing? What kind of figures have you come up with, because I think the last time we asked you to go look at some stuff. So what are you looking at?”

The mayor answered that they were looking for as much money as they had before, and Cullison replied that can’t happen.

Greene County Sheriff’s Department E-911 Coordinator Karen Oliphant noted that in September, there were 9,241 landline phones in the county, 1,417 of which were located in Linton. Linton dispatch only generates a little over $15,000 annual income off its calls, and Pierce noted that the number of landlines will only continue to drop over time.

“In the future you’re going to see a central dispatch,” Pierce stated. “It’s coming and it’s going to happen. No one is going to stop it, because it’s going to be state mandated.”

Jerrell said that while he knows that will happen one day, the county is not there yet. Wilkes added that he does not want to have this battle every year, and would just as soon go to central dispatch instead.

Cullison then asked if it is time to go to a central 911 dispatch instead of continuing negotiations. Wilkes and Jerrell answered that they do not believe it is, so Cullison suggested coming to a two-year funding agreement and revisiting the issue after it expires. Wilkes said he would prefer a three-year agreement.

Cullison reminded everyone that at the last meeting he figured out that Linton should get $21,800 for taking ten percent of landline 911 calls. He asked for a figure between what he suggested and the $66,000 the City of Linton was requesting.

Wilkes then asked for $33,000, which is around twice the amount of money Linton dispatch generates. Pierce added that the county also pays for equipment going into Linton.

Cullison suggested that Linton receive $25,000 a year for two years before the issue is revisited, noting that the amount is still over what the Linton dispatch figures call for. He said he needs to be able to justify the money Linton receives to the state, and that he believes he can do that with $25,000.

Pierce stated that he thinks it is more efficient and safer for 911 calls to go to one center.

The next 911 budget expenditure meeting is planned for 2 p.m. on November 14th in the Commissioners’ Room at the courthouse. Cullison said he wants to come up with a dollar amount at that meeting.

 

Linton Council Approves $250,000 of Personnel Cuts to Fire and Police Departments

Council Meeting budget cuts 134

Those attending Monday evening’s Linton City Council meeting were greeted by home-made signs protesting suggested 2014 budget cuts to the police and fire departments. The sign-makers expressed concerns over the safety of police officers and firefighters, as well as that of the community as a whole.

During the meeting, Linton Mayor John Wilkes presented the 2014 budget and the council voted to approve a $3,111,579 budget, which Wilkes pointed out is a 15 percent decrease from last year.

Local Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) President Paul Clark asked the mayor if there would be any public discussion about the budget and the mayor replied that he would answer questions after the meeting. Wilkes then said that when he and Comptroller David Sisk first began working on the budget they cut about $250,000 of what he described as “fluff” before they needed to make hard decisions. At that point they began working with Clark, the police department, the union, and the fire department to cut about $250,000 from personnel in the fire and police departments.

The council then signed the new budget and adjourned the meeting.

Linton’s fire and police departments account for about 94 percent of the General Fund’s budget.

The local Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) has been working with the mayor since late August in an attempt to save two positions on the police force, including offering between $70,000 and $75,000 worth of alternative cuts intended to save money without impacting public safety.

Early in October, the mayor informed Linton Fire Chief Brad Sparks that the fire department could lose a position as well, and representatives from the local International Association of Firefighters and the Professional Fire Fighters Union of Indiana began searching for ways the department could resolve the situation and prevent future problems of this nature.

Linton Police Department Officers Michael Harroll and Brock Garrison have the least seniority on the police force and Firefighter Ross Gentry is the newest member of the fire department.

After the meeting was closed, Clark asked if Wilkes knew when he would be prepared to announce where the personnel cuts would come from and Wilkes replied that although the two of them have discussed it and Clark pretty much knows the answer he cannot finalize everything because two firefighters are on workman’s compensation and the city is trying to get that worked out.

“This is not something that we want to do,” stated Wilkes. “But when the money’s not there, and that’s what it boils down to, when they put the tax caps on and they cut the money out there’s no place to get the money. I do appreciate the guys working with us and trying to figure out how we can do this thing but when there’s no money there’s no money and that’s what we’re up against.”

Clark then asked if the city was taking preventative measures to make sure this does not happen again. The Mayor said that they will do anything possible to get more funds but right now there are no avenues for the city to adopt a tax to bring the money in, and added that drops in property tax money and County Option Income Tax revenue caused the current crisis. He stressed that everyone should let their legislators know what they are doing to small communities.

“They are hurting our police and our fire and that’s what’s doing it, and we need to get a money stream coming back into these communities so we can support you guys,” Wilkes added, also noting the city will try to come up with other work for police or fire workers who lose their positions.

Citizens then asked questions and offered comments. In response to a question about whether or not the budget can be amended if the city gets more money the mayor responded that it could and would be changed. Council Member Linda Bedwell stressed that the decision to cut personnel was not easy for anyone on the board.

Wilkes said the city will have to tighten its belt to make sure this is not a problem that will come up year after year.

When asked if he knew how many positions would be cut from the police and fire departments Wilkes replied they would probably lose a combined three positions and added that they have taken some money from the utilities in lieu of taxes to put in the General Fund to offset the cost of the police and fire departments, but they have reached the legal limit of how much money they can transfer in that manner.

A woman thanked the police department for helping her family through a hard time when her son was having problems with drugs.

“Because of them I have my son back,” she explained, “so I don’t want any of those jobs to be cut and I want to get rid of the drugs, too.”

The mayor responded by assuring her they know the officers are doing great jobs.

Another woman pointed out that every time someone from the police or fire department goes out on a call they put their lives on the line and stated that the community should stand behind them. Wilkes agreed and said he hopes to find a way. When she suggested the city raise money through fines on littering the mayor said his door is open to anyone who has ideas about bringing in additional revenue.

The mayor was then asked how the city will repay the grant that is currently paying the salary of the police department’s 11th officer, and Wilkes replied that they will take that money out of utilities. Police Chief Troy Jerrell said they will need to refund about $120,000 and the mayor added that although that money could pay additional salaries next year they would end up in this position again the following year.

When it was pointed out that firemen’s lives would be put at risk by a reduction to the force Wilkes assured everyone that the council is working to find a way to solve the problem. He said the only way the city could get additional money at this point would be through taxes the county would be capable of implementing and repeated his belief that state representatives need to address this problem.

After the meeting broke up, Jerrell said that while he understands there are budget problems he still hopes another solution will be found besides cutting personnel. Sparks stated that it is not over and he is glad the council is leaving the lines of communication open.

“Other than the guy who loses his job and our lives being put on the line, it’s the people who are going to suffer. I understand what John [Wilkes] is doing. He’s doing what he has to do, it’s just that everyone’s hands are tied and hopefully we can find some money,” added Sparks.

Clark noted that the FOP’s concern is that citizens will no longer be afforded the same level of police protection they have come to expect in Linton.

“I know that we will try to provide the same level of protection, and that we will try to do more with less, but the bottom line is that you are probably going to see the philosophy of policing change from a proactive approach to more of a reactive approach. That is a very big detriment to public safety because if all you can do is wait for something bad to happen and try to catch the person who did it that is a whole lot different than trying to catch bad guys before they commit crimes,” Clark explained.

He stressed that cutting police manpower by 20 percent hampers the department’s ability to catch people in criminal acts because officers will be busy responding to the crimes that have already occurred, and added that the FOP’s primary goal is to try to control the quality of life of local officers. Clark said once final decisions about personnel cuts have been made and implemented the quality of life of the remaining officers will be affected.

“We don’t want this to become a place where nobody wants to work. We don’t want to lose the experienced policemen we have because there is no quality of life here. Obviously policemen don’t take the job for money. We take the job knowing we won’t be at home with our families—we’ve all missed birthday parties, we’ve all worked nights, we’ve all been called out on our days off,” Clark explained.

He stressed that once quality of life within the department begins to drop he fears the loss of experienced policemen, since the department does not pay well or offer great benefits.

“This is not a solution,” he stated. “We did not lay off two policemen and now the situation is resolved. We laid off two policemen in the first round. We expect to be back down here fighting for public safety jobs the next time the city incurs a major expense, whether that is health insurance, liability, or litigation. That money has to come from the tax base.”

Clark added that the signs outside city hall did not come from the police department or the FOP and said it was nice to see that people cared. He also appreciated the people who attended the council meeting and were vocal in their support of the police and fire departments.

“The lady who spoke about how the police department saved her family probably single-handedly justified ten policemen’s careers in their minds. That was as touching a thing as I’ve ever seen in a city council meeting,” said Clark.

City Budget Cuts Timeline: