The Press-Dispatch

August 14, 2019

The Press-Dispatch

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The Press-Dispatch East Gibson News Wednesday, August 14, 2019 C- 11 County considers 0.2 percent jail tax By Janice Barniak Gibson County Council members con- sidered the adoption of a .2 percent cor- rections facility tax in a special hearing Aug. 6. The tax would raise approximate- ly $1.5 million per year, about a $ 96 a year increase for median income taxpayers. The tax would support improvements at the Gibson County Jail, which is cur- rently the subject of two lawsuits. Gibson County Commissioners will have the au- thority to decide which route to go to ad- dress improvements with the facility—one possibility discussed has been building a new jail; commissioners have also recom- mended more jailers for the existing facil- ities. However, the Gibson County Sher- iff's Office has had difficulty keeping cor- rections officers, according to previous re- ports from Sheriff Tim Bottoms, as they often use the position to gain entry-level law enforcement experience before mov- ing into deputy work. Those deputy positions also frequently open up as the sheriff's office is one of the lower paid law enforcement opportunities in the area when compared, for example, to other counties' positions and Princeton city officer positions. In any case, the adoption of a jail tax would raise the county's tax burden from .7 percent to .9 percent for a maximum of 22 years. In Indiana, four out of 92 counties have lower taxes than Gibson. Councilman Derek McGraw wanted to be clear that the council was not saying they would adopt a tax by having the hear- ing; the council would eventually be the de- ciding body, however, on from where in the budget any potential funding would come. Councilman Bill McConnell was against any action, saying the council needed a fea- sibility study on a project. He also pointed to an 11-county pilot study aimed to reduce the number of incarcerations through an assessment designed to keep those who are not considered high risk awaiting tri- al at home, instead of awaiting trial in jail because they cannot afford bail. "I don't see how we're going to come up with any kind of figure," said McConnell. "I don't see how we can make any move on this at this time." At the hearing Tuesday, area resident John Alstadt suggested the county look to turn a vacant school building into the next prison as a way to save money. Overton said those with ideas or plans should talk to the commissioners, who will eventually choose the plan. "A plan for if we don't build a jail would need to come from them," he said. Alstadt encouraged the county not to raise taxes, as it would give people a rea- son not to move to Gibson County. "Be a leader, not a follower," he said. "This is no simple deal," said Council- man McConnell. "I think you guys know we're pretty tight with your money...There are about 35,000 people in this county and we seven want to serve every one of them." He said he would not be in favor of pass- ing a tax before he'd seen at least a feasi- bility study that would examine the costs. "I'm not one to be contrary at all," he said. According to commissioners' attorney Jim McDonald, a study is being complet- ed and commissioners will submit options soon. The jail problem is going to likely continue. "No matter what you do, the legislature is pushing the burden down to the local. No matter what you do, we still have an old jail. No matter what you do—you can put a don- key in the barnyard, put a hat and ribbons on it, and it's still a donkey. We still have an old jail. We have ACLU lawsuits against us now. Sixteen different levels. We're not ADA compliant...we still have the donkey in the barnyard. We still have an old jail. We have a labor shortage in this county every- where," he said. "We can push it down the road, kick the can, we can bury our head in the sand. But something's going to have to be done by somebody, and this is the mech- anism determined by the state so we can start a fund to accumulate the cash. I'm not saying you have to spend it tomorrow, but you can begin to accumulate and plan." He said even potential programs aimed to reduce repeat offenders cost money, and studies show only a certain number will participate. He said during Judge Earl Pen- rod's time on the bench, he had put in place many of those types of programs. "Let's not kid ourselves, we're still over- crowded, understaffed," he said. "The com- missioners are not sitting on our hands, I just want the public to know, it's been com- ing for years, we knew it was coming, now it's here." Area resident Pam Weber said she would like to see the return of Sheriff George Bal- lard's garden, which brought in money and put inmates to work. According to McDonald, programs that put inmates to work have reduced partici- pation since the state changed the policy to give inmates less incentive to participate. At the fairgrounds, for example, a call for workers saw only three inmates volunteer for clean-up. "They can sit and watch T V," he said, comparing it to the hard work of the road crew. McConnell pointed to actions the coun- cil took to help the jail situation. "The county appropriated enough mon- ey to hire another five jailers, and he can't keep people over there," McConnell said. "He can't keep any help over there now. What can we do about that? There's no rea- son to create more stone and mortar when we can't get people to stand behind it." If approved in August, the tax could begin accumulating in 2020. The county council's next meeting is scheduled at 9 a.m. Aug. 13 at the North Annex. Peabody closes Somerville Central mine By Janice Barniak Peabody Indiana will close the Somer- ville Central mine Oct. 4, permanently lay- ing off approximately 121 employees, mine representatives disclosed to Oakland City Mayor Hugh Wirth and Commissioner Ste- ve Bottoms in a letter dated Aug. 2, citing "uneconomical business conditions." "Peabody plans to offer comparable po- sitions at other Peabody locations to many current employees whose positions are be- ing eliminated as a result of this suspension of operations," President Marc Hathorn wrote in the letter, adding more specif- ic information about those opportunities would be shared at a later date, but could include employment at the Wild Boar Mine, Francisco Mine, Bear Run Mine or Wild- cat Hills Mine. There will be a period of reclamation af- ter Oct. 4. The employees are not represented by a union, and include a clerk/maintenance person, an electrician, 21 end dump driv- ers, three fuelers, five greaser/oilers, a lead mechanic, a lead operator for the dra- gline, a lead prep plant operator, a lead welder and mechanic, 10 other mechanics, 40 dozer and mobile equipment operators, 12 dragline operators, two shovel and over- burden operators, a parts runner, four prep plant operators, four shooters, five senior lead positions, a senior safety technician, a senior technician of engineering and six welder/mechanics. Sheep Dogs monkey around at fundraiser for veterans' programs Sheep Dog Impact Assistance of Southern Indiana hosted a car show fundraiser at Pappy's Barbecue in Oakland City Friday night. The veteran's group travels the country to offer help in disaster zones and also offers programs to help get veterans out of the house and socializing with one another. For more information, see diana,, or email One award unique to their show was for most patriotic ve- hicle. Spindler to compete in Ms. America pageant By Janice Barniak Rosanne Spindler, of Oakland City, will head to Long Beach this month to com- pete in the Ms. America pageant after she won the Ms. Indiana America 2019 title and crown. Spindler, who is a life-long Gibson Coun- ty resident, said serving as Ms. Indiana and representing the state at the Ms. America pageant will allow her to draw attention to the American Heart Associa- tion, which she advocates for after surviv- ing peripartum cardiomyopathy, heart fail- ure during or after pregnancy. The mother of twins had delivered the week before, and was having coughing, shortness of breath and an inability to sleep on her back. "The day I was diagnosed was unfor- gettable. I was scared, worried, shocked! Nobody in their 20s thinks something like that can happen to them...but it can and it does," Spindler said. "I'm honestly not sure how the diagnosis was missed...and if it had been caught sooner, my heart would not have been so enlarged and under such pressure. My message is to take action for your health—don't just wait for a doctor to catch cardiac problems; eat healthy, have a balanced diet, exercise, and get regular screenings. Had my aunt, who is a nurse, not encouraged me to take myself to the hospital that day 11 years ago, I proba- bly would not be here competing for Ms. America today." If crowned Ms. America, she would trav- el the country for a year, promoting the pageant and heart disease prevention and awareness. "Rosanne Spindler really left a posi- tive impression on our judges and we are thrilled to have her representing Indiana at the 2019 Ms. America Pageant finals this August," said Susan Jeske, pageant CEO. Spindler graduated from Vincennes University with honors and Indiana State University with a Bachelor of Science in Radio/T V Broadcasting. Currently, she is the office manager of Spindler Law and mother to 11-year-old twins. Rosanne was a former Miss Golden Her- itage Days, Miss Sweet Corn Queen, In- dianapolis 500 Festival Princess, Miss Crossroads to America, Miss Southern Heartland, placed top 5 at Miss Indiana, Miss Indiana swimsuit preliminary win- ner, and was Mrs. Indiana 2012. While many may have heard of the Miss America scholarship pageant, Ms. Ameri- ca is for women 26 and up. Spindler was a former Miss Indiana con- testant, and said the difference for her is that now, 12 years later, she is more in tune with who she is as a person. "I've also learned to focus on myself and what I have to offer, rather than compar- ing myself to other contestants," she said. Part of that could come from winning Mrs. Indiana in 2012, where she said she learned to manage her time while being a state titleholder. She ran a business while serving and said she's learned to juggle responsibilities while pursuing her goals. To compete for Ms. Indiana, Spindler will travel to Long Beach, Calif., where she'll stay and compete on the historic Queen Mary. The days will be full of re- hearsals, a Queen's Tea, and interviewing with the judges, before she competes in evening gown, active wear and on-stage question categories. "I'm excited and nervous at the same time. Each time I compete at a pageant, it's a different experience; I've really done self-discovery during my prep-time for this pageant; I'm confident in who I am and what makes me unique...I know that I'm ready to be Ms. America! " Spindler is married to local attorney, Ja- son Spindler, and her daughter, Glorian- na, 11, has followed in her footsteps, serv- ing as Little Miss Sweet Corn, Little Miss Beauty for Ashes, Little Miss Candy Cane, Gibson County Princess 2014 and is Gib- son County Princess 2019. "If you have a dream, never give up on yourself. 'Failure' is really just a stepping stone for personal growth and future suc- cess, so never quit your goals," Spindler said. The Ms. America Pageant will be Aug. 24, with Red Carpet at 6:30 p.m. and the pageant at 7:30 p.m. The pageant is sold out, but there will be free LiveStreaming to watch the pageant at AlertTheGlobe. com. Rosanne Spindler County looks to motivate utility companies By Janice Barniak The delay in work on County Road 800 S. has commissioners looking at how to im- pose deadlines on companies who wish to operate utilities in Gibson County, Com- missioner Steve Bottoms told Gibson Coun- ty Redevelopment Monday during their regular monthly meeting. County Road 800 S., locally called Coal Mine Road, was scheduled for a road wid- ening project over the school's summer break. The road is a primary thorough- fare in Fort Branch—both Fort Branch Community School and Gibson Southern High School are located on the road, mak- ing heavy traffic an issue at school drop- off and release time, but also during Gib- son Southern football games, which attract hundreds of fans at home games. When students went back to school Aug. 8, the project to widen the road was sup- posed to have wrapped up, but due to util- ities Charter and Wow not moving their lines, it has yet to begin. Bottoms added the project is not the first to be delayed due to utility lines needing moved; recently other bridge and road pro- jects have been squeezed time-wise while waiting for the utilities to move so that work can begin. He said on the Coal Mine Road project, utilities had a year's notice in advance of the project. Meanwhile, Fort Branch residents can expect Coal Mine Road to become one lane going west into town when the project be- gins. The county is still looking at a timeline in which the work could wrap up by the end of the calendar year. Bottoms said the county will consider changing their process on granting right- of-ways to operate their utilities so that ei- ther the company has a deadline to move utilities that right-of-way permission is con- tingent upon, or that should they not move the utilities in time, the county can do it at the company's cost. "We working on it because we've had enough problems with them," Bottoms said.

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