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Pandemic protocols dominated educators' 2020-2021 school year

Grounded in uncertainty, local educators returned to their school buildings for the start of the 2020-2021 school year with harrowing feelings.

The COVID-19 pandemic closed schools in March of 2020 forcing the final two months to be completed virtually, a time-consuming task of building lessons plans that were easy to follow through an online setting.

“The pivot was awkward at first because we thought it was just for a couple of weeks,” said Loper Elementary School fourth grade teacher Teresa Meredith. “There was this big question mark – nobody knew, but we had a feeling. For a couple of weeks, we could coast through and do reviews and we had things we could build online.

“Then we got through a couple of weeks and realized it’s going on longer. That’s when we felt we couldn’t just do a review, we had to do more in-depth content. And how are we going to do that? So we recorded some different things. Even then, it’s not the same.”

Getting educational content online and scheduling Zoom classroom meetings did not prove difficult. Tracking down students who lacked supervision or a complete lack of internet connectivity was a challenge.

“We had a hard time getting all the kids online,” said Meredith, who will start her third year back at Loper Elementary on Aug. 4 following a six-year run as the president of the Indiana State Teachers Association. “I had a little over 60% consistently turning in everything. They might not have been on every Zoom, understandable with parents working or at a babysitter or outside playing or no Wi-Fi … so if I had a live lesson I tried to record it and share it but that other 20-30% of kids you had to chase down and see what is going on and try to get assignments out of was tough.”

While students were assigned to one teacher, lessons were put online by all the teachers for each grade. That meant students had to take daily instruction from a teacher they did not have a day-to-day relationship with at school.

“It was hard for kids too because they didn’t know all the teachers,” said Meredith. “We rotated so the kids knew at least 2-3 of us but if you don’t know a teacher’s style, it’s different. It took a little bit for the kids to adjust, but they probably adjusted quicker than we did.”

A summer of uncertainty followed. All four school systems in Shelby County returned to the classroom setting for the 2020-2021 school year but masks were required to be worn at almost all times and social distancing was difficult when class sizes swelled (William F. Loper Elementary Facebook page photo).

“The hard part for me was I had 28 kids so my desks were not very far apart … they were as far apart as I could make them,” said Meredith. “I couldn’t group the desks like I like to do. I like to put them in pods of four, then there is teamwork. My room was wall-to-wall desks.”

Then there was the constant reminder to pre-teens to keep masks covering their noses and mouths.

“I was pretty strict on masks that first month and then after that they kind of policed it for me,” continued Meredith. “And for the most part, I had no problems. But I took my kids outside a lot for mask breaks. I told them if they get 1-2-3 done, when everybody is done, we would go outside for a 3-minute mask break.”

The veteran teacher found it effective in relieving some stress on fourth graders.

“We could come back in and get to work,” she said. “Kids are pretty resilient, at least in fourth grade. The hardest part for me was not being able to gather a group of kids together and work closely with them. That was really hard. I would sit beside them, we both would face the same way, masked up and we would work 1-on-1. I didn’t do small groups.”

 

Photo courtesy of Thomas A. Hendricks Elementary Facebook page

 

The 2021-2022 school year will start without masks being required on campus. Each school system remains in full assessment mode as to what worked and what didn’t work in 2020-2021.

“We made it work. It wasn’t great but I think (the students) learned a lot of lessons,” said Meredith. “They may not have been all tested lessons but I think they learned a lot of lessons about just surviving and patience and trying to trust the adults around them even if they couldn’t understand why.”

Virtual learning is now a growing trend, one sped up at the local level because of the pandemic. Shelbyville Central Schools will operate its own virtual school in 2021-2022 while still maintaining the traditional classroom setting for a majority of its student body.

“We have learned how to do virtual better,” admitted Meredith Hall, music teacher at Coulston Elementary School and president of the Shelbyville Central Teachers Association. “We will have a virtual option this year for our kids. There are new platforms out that are really great and will be helpful for parents. If we are going to do virtual learning, we will do it the best we possibly can and hopefully better than anyone else.”

While masks were an annoying inconvenience, there was a positive that came from keeping faces covered more often.

“One thing I did notice, flu and asthma and those things, I had no issues this past year,” said Teresa Meredith. “This is the first school year I personally haven’t had major asthma issues in probably my entire teaching career.”

Meredith admits she was not a big fan of hand sanitizer in the classroom pre-pandemic, but that has changed now.

“I will probably keep the hand sanitizer on my desk,” she said. “I used to not be a big fan but I’m probably going to make sure they are using the Purell in and out and keep some of the cleaning practices (instituted).

“We were cleaning desks every time we would transition. So if we are leaving to a specials class, when we came back I would have all the desks sprayed and they would grab a towel and clean off their desk. I will keep some of that up for 2021-2022.”

While the return-to-school policy is set, COVID-19 cases are on the rise again. How the students sit in class on day one may be different on days 21, 50 and 100.

“I think we’re hoping we will be able to get back to more of what we used to do,” said Hall. “They (the teachers) want to know are they going to have to wear masks. They want to know protocols about quarantining. Everyone wants to know what is going to happen. But I think we have a pretty good plan.”

Suspect injured in officer involved shooting arrested on numerous charges

The suspect who was shot and seriously injured by a Columbus police officer on June 27 was recently released from an Indianapolis area hospital.  Upon being released, he was arrested for attempted murder and other charges related to the incident.

 

The investigation by detectives with the Indiana State Police - Versailles Post determined that in the early morning hours of Sunday June 27, Sergeant Lukas Nibarger, a seven-year veteran of the Columbus Police Department, responded to a residence in the 3000 block of Grove Parkway to investigate a suspicious person on the property. Upon arriving, he encountered a man later identified as Jacob Dale Rice, 38, of Columbus. Rice ignored the officers verbal commands and attempted to flee on foot. Sgt. Nibarger chased Rice into the backyard of the residence where he again gave verbal commands in an attempt to detain Rice. Investigators believe Rice fired one round from a firearm in the direction of Sgt. Nibarger. Sgt. Nibarger was not struck and was able to return fire with his department issued handgun striking Rice one time.

 

Sgt. Nibarger called for an ambulance, which arrived within minutes and was able to provide medical attention to Rice. Rice was transported to the Columbus Municipal Airport where a medical helicopter was waiting to transport him to IU Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis for treatment of serious injuries.

 

The investigation revealed that Rice had stolen the firearm used in the shooting from a vehicle in the Columbus area before his interaction with Sgt. Nibarger. Investigators do not believe Rice was able to make entry into the residence before being confronted by Sgt. Nibarger

 

Rice was released from IU Methodist Hospital on July 19.  Upon being released from the hospital, he was taken into custody on arrest warrants from an unrelated case and transported to the Bartholomew County Jail.  Shortly after being incarcerated, an arrest warrant was issued for Rice with charges related to this case.  Rice has now been charged with Attempted Murder, Level 1 Felony, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Serious Violent Felon, Level 4 Felony, Criminal Recklessness with a Deadly Weapon, Level 6 Felony, Theft of a Firearm, Level 6 Felony, and Theft of Property (over $750), Level 6 Felony.

 

Jacob Rice was incarcerated pending his initial appearance in the Bartholomew County Circuit Court.

Successful school year validated TC's choice to bring students back to classroom

With the deep-rooted belief than in-class learning was best for Triton Central’s students, Northwestern Consolidated Schools board opted not to offer virtual learning at the start of the 2020-2021 school year.

One year later, superintendent Chris Hoke firmly believes it was the right decision.

“We had discussions about do we come back in person or try to do the virtual,” explained Hoke. “Obviously, we did in-person on campus. We believe philosophically that is what’s best for kids academically, socially and emotionally. And if you wanted that virtual piece, there were options out there.”

Virtual learning was available for those students diagnosed with COVID-19 or quarantined via contact tracing. Otherwise, all three TC buildings were filled with students for the entire 2020-21 school year.

“We’ve talked about we are a business. We offer a product and that product is an educational experience,” continued Hoke. “Our product we offer is rooted in the experience here on campus. You can’t be here unless you are here. From an academic standpoint, we knew that is sound structurally. We came to a fairly quick decision in the summer leading into August that we were going to focus our time and energy on what we have to do to get back here in person safely, reliably and deliver the product we know we’re good at.”

In a smaller school system like Triton Central, offering both in-person learning and virtual learning simultaneously was too much to ask of its teaching staff.

“I believe and the team believes, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that looking back, if we had tried to two track that our staff would have been worn out,” said Hoke. “It would have essentially doubled their work load. I didn’t think that was fair. I knew we would end up doing both things not very well.”

Hoke was reluctant to operate virtually in the spring of 2020 when the pandemic exploded across the United States but there was no other option.

“We knew we could make the 1-to-1 e-Learning stuff we do for inclement weather work in the short term,” he said. “We knew even back then this isn’t a long term solution. This isn’t best for kids in the long term.”

The transition to virtual learning went smoothly for the school system, according to Hoke, but it learned quickly just how many students did not have internet access at home.

“It was less a transition but that’s not to say it wasn’t anything,” said Hoke. “There was less ramp up there. The thing that became really evident is there are some real glaring deficiencies in the community with regard to connectivity. There were dark spots.

“We are 15-20 minutes from the heart of the state capitol yet there are areas that flat don’t have connectivity. I know the state is working hard to address that. To me, that is almost unimaginable in 2021 and 2022.”

Students found alternative ways to get internet access despite being banned from campus because of the pandemic.

“We had a lot of people doing homework from Starbucks or an aunt’s house or grandma’s house,” he said. “That summer going into the fall when we knew we were going to be back, we were game planning for what if we had to go out again.”

The campus now has one of the strongest internet signals in the area.

“We beefed up on campus,” said Hoke. “Some of the strongest internet signal around is by the flagpole in front of the high school. The local network here on campus is pretty good.”

 

 

Through early fall testing, data revealed TC students were still in good shape educationally despite virtual learning for the final two months of the 2019-2020 semester.

“There were differences between English and Math,” said Hoke. “They didn’t lose as much in English as they did in Math. There are a couple of ways to look at that.

“Outside of school, people don’t do math problems, but you do read. If they are on a device, kids are reading. They do that on their own away from school. Not many people on their own do math problems away from school. So our kids were getting some practice in reading on their own.”

While state leaders don’t want to admit the last two months of the school year are not about learning, Hoke says the impact of the pandemic was lessened by the time of the year.

“The last half of the spring semester in this state is so fixed on state assessments that there is not a tremendous amount of hard core instruction going on at that point and time anyway,” he said. “That is not what folks at the state level want to hear but the truth of the matter is after spring break, we’re testing and then getting ready for the end of the school year. So if you wanted to pick a time of the school year to put school out, honestly that is probably the best time you could pick to have the minimum impact educationally because all we’re doing is testing and getting done with the end of the school year.”

It is Hoke’s belief that the school system’s decision to operate in-person for the 2020-2021 school year was a good one based on the testing scores.

“We didn’t see as much loss in the pandemic because we were here,” he said. “That validates the decision we made from an academic standpoint and that doesn’t even touch all the social and emotional pieces.”

After a long 16-month experience with a pandemic, the school system’s teachers and staff were ready for a break.

“They were tired and wiped out. It was stressful,” said Hoke when asked about his teaching staff. “On one hand, they had their own personal health and the loved ones in their lives that they were around and were exposed to, and then they were worried about doing their job and doing it well. They were tired. We were all tired. They needed time away. They needed a break this summer. They did an unbelievable job but they were gassed. We were on fumes at the end.”

Hoke has already started seeing teachers on campus again preparing for the new school year that starts Aug. 3.

“I think there is some anxiety about how (the summer break) went so fast,” he said with a laugh. “They have been in and out all week getting rooms ready. When I talk to them, they are ready to go back. It’s time. And if they have their own children, they are ready for their kids to be back.”

As with all of the Shelby County school districts, masks will be optional to start the school year. Students will still be required to wear them on buses per federal mandate that runs through mid-September.

“I am excited to get back to something that closely resembles normal,” said Hoke. “We had a really good experience last year. We were really fortunate. The kids were great and the staff was unbelievable.”

Shelby Co. commissioners hire engineering consultant DLZ to review garage, jail

Shelby County’s highway garage and jail will get a review by an architectural and design firm to set the direction and needs of the two facilities.

Commissioner Chris Ross says the Indianapolis firm will look at how to progress with the highway garage and the city / county combination effort in dealing with the solid waste district building design and transfer station.

Ross says revamping the entire highway garage area means a lot of moving parts.

Ross says DLZ will also give attention to the Shelby County Jail which is getting older and has had its issues since opening.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Department and Shelbyville Police Department both share office space in the facility.  Ross says plans are being talked for what could be a relocation in the future for the city’s police department.

 

 

 

Speed limit change coming to Bassett Road

Following the recommendation of City of Shelbyville Police Chief Mark Weidner, the Board of Works approved changing the speed limit on a stretch of Bassett Road that is seeing increased traffic activity.

Discussion with residents of Country Club Heights and Trotters Chase prompted the Board of Works to ask the police chief for a recommendation. After assessing the situation, Weidner presented his plan Tuesday morning of lowering the current posted speed limit of 40 miles per hour to 30 mph on Bassett Road from State Road 9 to Intelliplex Drive.

The remainder of Bassett Road to Michigan Road would remain 40 mph.

The police chief also recommended posting “No trucks” signs (photo) at both ends of Bassett Road.

Grain haulers have increasingly started using Bassett Road to Michigan Road to get access to POET’s ethanol refinery at 2373 W. 300 North. Michigan Road is being damaged by the trucks, according to Mayor Tom DeBaun, who is a member of the Board of Works.

Trucks should use Interstate 74 to Fairland Road where Tom Hession Boulevard can be utilized to reach POET.

“I have met with the Shelby County Commissioners and let them know we are taking over supervision, maintenance and enforcement along Bassett Road,” said DeBaun in the meeting.

Major Health Partners Medical Center will not be impacted by the decision. Truck deliveries to the hospital and its surrounding buildings use Intelliplex Drive off State Road 9.

In other board business, five nuisance properties were ordered to be cleaned up and the cost assessed to property taxes. The properties are at 52 Mildred St., 717 2nd St., 836 Center St., 554 W. Taylor St., and 1020 S. West St.

The owners of three more nuisance properties will be given “Orders to Appear” at a future meeting. The properties are at 153 Walker St., 917 Moriseni Avenue, and 702 Indiana Avenue.

 

For more on the traffic light control box art projects, go to https://shelbycountypost.com/local-news/576661

 

Also, the board approved, pending approval of the Plan Commission, the installation of an informational sign by the Blue River Community Foundation at the corner of Mechanic and Harrison streets.

The sign will provide information on the traffic box wrap created by Loper Elementary School art teacher Eric Sutton. The wrap adorns the large traffic box at the intersection.

The foundation expects to start decorating 10 more traffic boxes around Shelbyville with new art designs as soon as next week.

The signs will include the artist’s name, the date installed and how each particular project was funded.

Warehouse and gravel / sand mining rezones on Shelby Co. Plan Commission agenda

Rezones involving a gravel / sand mining operation and a proposed warehouse are before the Shelby County Plan Commission Tuesday.

 

Shelby Gravel, Inc. has a reqone request on the agenda for just over 254 acres.  The request asks for a rezone from A1 (Conservation Agricultural) to HI (High Impact) District.  It's intended to allow for a gravel / sand mining operation at the southwest corner of I-65 and West 1000 South, Edinburgh, in Jackson Township.

 

The warehouse project is proposed by Browning Investments, of Indianapolis.  Browning is requesting a rezone of just over 56 acres from A1 (Conservation Agricultural) to the I1 (Low Intensity Industrial).  The location is 9175 North Frontage Road, Fairland, in Moral Township.

 

The Shelby County Plan Commission is scheduled to meet at 7:00 pm Tuesday

 

 

 

IDEM issues Air Quality Action Day for four regions; Shelby, Bartholomew counties

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) has issued an Air Quality Action Day (AQAD) and is forecasting high ozone levels for Tuesday, July 27, 2021, in the following regions:

  • Central Indiana – Marion, Bartholomew, Boone, Brown, Delaware, Hamilton, Hendricks, Howard, Madison, Shelby 
  • Southeast Indiana – Clark, Floyd
  • Southwest Indiana – Daviess, Dubois, Gibson, Greene, Knox, Perry, Pike, Posey, Spencer, Vanderburgh, Warrick 
  • West Central Indiana – Vigo, Carroll, Tippecanoe 

IDEM encourages everyone to help reduce ozone while remaining safe during the COVID-19 health crisis by making changes to daily habits. You can:

  • Drive less: carpool, use public transportation, walk, bike, or work from home when possible
  • Combine errands into one trip
  • Avoid refueling your vehicle or using gasoline-powered lawn equipment until after 7 p.m.
  • Keep your engine tuned, and don’t let your engine idle (e.g., at a bank or restaurant drive-thru)
  • Conserve energy by turning off lights and setting the thermostat to 75 degrees or above 

Air Quality Action Days are in effect from midnight to 11:59 p.m. on the specified date. Anyone sensitive to changes in air quality may be affected when ozone levels are high. Children, the elderly, and anyone with heart or lung conditions should reduce or avoid exertion and heavy work outdoors.

Ground-level ozone is formed when sunlight and hot weather combine with vehicle exhaust, factory emissions, and gasoline vapors. Ozone in the upper atmosphere blocks ultraviolet radiation, but ozone near the ground is a lung irritant that can cause coughing and breathing difficulties for sensitive populations. 


IDEM examines weather patterns and current ozone readings to make daily air quality forecasts. Air Quality Action Days generally occur when weather conditions such as light winds, hot and dry air, stagnant conditions, and lower atmospheric inversions trap pollutants close to the ground.

To learn more about ozone or to sign up for air quality alerts, visit SmogWatch.IN.gov

Indy woman killed in Saturday semi-car accident

An Indianapolis woman was killed in an I-74 chain reaction accident Saturday.

 

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Department says Shawn Waggoner, of Freetown, was driving a semi eastbound on I-74 at about the 105 mile marker.  Waggoner’s semi ran into a vehicle stopped in traffic with the construction.  That vehicle was driven by William Gibbs, of Indianapolis.  A passenger in the Gibbs’ vehicle, Jacquelin Jones-Gibbs, 66, of Indianapolis, died of her injuries at an Indianapolis hospital.

 

Six vehicles were involved in the crash which closed the interstate while emergency and clean-up crews were at the location.

 

Former Morristown coach inducted into Delaware County Athletic Hall of Fame

Scott McClelland was one of 14 men and women inducted Saturday night into the Delaware County Athletic Hall of Fame.

The current boys basketball coach at Noblesville High School led Morristown High School in northern Shelby County to the 2018 Class A boys basketball state championship.

McClelland (photo, right) is a Yorktown High School graduate who played one year of college basketball at Ancilla College before transferring to Ball State University to pursue his teaching license.

His coaching career started at his alma mater where he served as a girls basketball assistant coach for three years. He left Yorktown in 1998 to become Wapahani’s girls basketball coach. In 1999 he was named the Mid-Eastern Conference Coach of the Year.

McClelland’s boys basketball coaching career began with stints as an assistant coach at Blue River Valley, Cathedral and Scecina.

In August of 2008, he was hired as Morristown’s boys basketball coach for his first of two runs with the Class A program.

After tremendous success over seven seasons, McClelland left Morristown for the head coaching position at Brebeuf Jesuit on Indianapolis’ north side. He spent two seasons there before moving on to Western Boone, where he secured career win No. 100 during his three-year stint.

In 2015, McClelland returned to Morristown and built the program into a state champion. He was named the 2018 Indiana Basketball Coaches Association District 8 Coach of the Year.

In 18 seasons as a head coach, McClelland is 246-169.

The 2021 induction class also included Ernest Young, Kim Worrell, Naomi “Mia” Tabberson, Jill (Miller) McCarville, Connie (Bousman) Lyon, Brad Kinsey, Steve Kehoe, Doug Kehoe, Davyd Jones, Greg Heban, Sacha (Gill) Burkett, Shannon McCormick II, Amanda (McCormick) Stafford and Chase Wright.

SCS better prepared for new school year after full year of COVID-19 protocols

Shelbyville Central Schools superintendent Mary Harper believes the school system is in a better place following one of the toughest school years in many decades.

“We are in a really good place because we opened on time last year,” said Harper. “We were on site and I think we worked out a lot of the bugs in terms of COVID protocols.

“I think our students and staff were very diligent about following those protocols and making sure we were able to stay on site.”

Shelbyville elementary and middle school students were in the classroom the entire 2020-2021 school year, with the exception of a COVID-19 diagnosis or close contact tracing.

Shelbyville High School students endured a mid-year, three-week hybrid period that helped remind staff and students about the diligence of wearing masks and social distancing.

The 2021-2022 school year will appear more normal on the surface. Masks will be optional in school for staff and students, but may be required for smaller group settings.

“Our cleaning protocols will remain the same,” said Harper. “Our class sizes at the elementary school are being kept low. Students can hopefully social distance by the three feet (required). But if people feel more comfortable in masks, we will have them available for both students and staff.”

New this school year will be visitors, such as parents eating lunch with elementary students, returning to the buildings.

“We are excited to start letting visitors back in our buildings,” she said. “We will do Back to School Night. People need to take whatever precautions they feel they need to take individually. We will have masks available if people feel more comfortable with that.”

Students will still be required to wear masks on school buses until mid-September when a federal mandate either expires or is renewed.

Virtual learning is still an option. In fact, SCS will open its own virtual school next month for students wanting to continue that educational track.

“When we decided to do the virtual school, we looked at our numbers and saw how many were successful in that program,” said Harper. “It wasn’t the virtual program we did in the spring (of 2020). It is a quality virtual program.

“And if that was going to be an option for people living in Shelbyville and Shelby County, if they didn’t have to drive to Indianapolis or Columbus, and we could offer that program here, we felt like we could do it just as good as anyone else could do it.”

The virtual option was not looked upon as a viable model nearly 18 months ago when a pandemic swept the globe. Every school system was forced to reevaluate how to successfully educate students.

“Surprisingly, it went as smooth as it could go,” said Harper of the transition to virtual learning in March of 2020. “There were challenges for every district in the nation. No one had prepared to do an extended period of virtual instruction. Teachers got right on board right away.

“More of the challenges came from the homefront where parents and guardians and relatives and babysitters were having to help with the instruction, especially with the preschoolers and elementary students. “And that was time intensive for them, especially if they were an essential worker and had to go to work and come home and work with the kids.”

 

Shelbyville Middle School

 

SCS opened its building doors in August of 2020 with no idea what the school year would entail.

“It was an anxious time for students, parents and staff,” said Harper. “I have to compliment our staff because they wanted to be on site, they knew it was in the best interest of the students but I also knew they were going to be sitting in a classroom with 20 kids.

“I think once we got going, things went really well. We were very transparent when we had positive (COVID-19) cases in the buildings. We didn’t try to hide it. We notified staff. We notified parents. I don’t think we had as many positive cases as people were expecting.”

Harper admits the bigger issue was close contact tracing that kept students at home.

“We had a lot of students identified as close contacts, but the vast majority of those were from a family member at home,” she said. “And I know that was difficult for students to have to quarantine and try and stay current with what’s happening in the classroom, but our teachers were good about connecting with those kids. I think it went well. Once we got through that (hybrid period) at the high school, we tried as much to be at our new normal.”

Like the other school systems in Shelby County, SCS is monitoring post-COVID testing data to see how virtual learning has affected local students.

“There was a slight drop off, probably more in the language arts area than the math,” said Harper. “I think that students came back ready to learn. We put some interventions in place right away and will continue those interventions.

“I think the gains we saw from August until December were good gains. I think kids learn so much faster and it’s easier when they are at school and focused.”

With contact tracing and constant protocol shifting, teachers were put through a very difficult school year.

“I really tried to stay in communication with them. We have a great relationship with the (teachers) association,” said Harper. “We heard on the news how many students were not in session all year, and there is even talk of some schools not opening on sight for this upcoming school year. Our teachers were really supportive that knowing that the best learning for the majority of our students is in person.”

The end of the school year meant teachers could finally relax. The summer of 2020 was filled with uncertainty. The summer of 2021 came with more defined protocols in place for teachers to follow.

“We do lots of professional development in the summer with teachers and I told assistant superintendent Kathleen Miltz that this might be the summer people want to back off a little bit, and that wasn’t the case,” said Harper. “We have teachers that still wanted to participate in professional development that was on site.”

With only days left until the start of the 2021-2022 school year, Harper hopes teachers feel renewed as they return to the classroom.

“I hope that teachers, all of our staff, took some time to decompress,” she said. “It was a stressful year.”

Decatur to Bartholomew pursuit ends with arrest

An Ohio man was arrested following a pursuit from Decatur into Bartholomew counties.

 

About 10:00 pm Wednesday, the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s deputies received information that the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office was in a vehicle pursuit west on East SR 46 from the Bartholomew / Decatur County line.

 

The suspect vehicle was traveling west on East 25th Street from the junction of North SR 9 and E SR 46.  BCSO Deputy Grant Carlson deployed stop sticks in the 6100 block of E 25th Street which caused two tires to deflate and the vehicle’s speed to drop to around 40 mph.

 

The suspect later turned into the parking lot of Planet Fitness before crashing into a raised concrete curb in the Subway drive thru.  The driver, identified as Wade Bruffett, 44, Harrison, Ohio, was taken into custody without further incident.

 

Deputies located containers of alcohol and drug-related items inside Bruffett’s vehicle.  It is suspected that Bruffett was intoxicated during the incident.

 

The investigation is ongoing by the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office.

Legislators invite public to statewide redistricting meetings Aug. 6-7, Aug. 11

Hoosiers are invited to attend one or more of a series of public meetings across the state on August 6 - 7 and August 11 to provide feedback on Indiana's redistricting process.

Indiana is required to redraw its districts for the U.S. House of Representatives, the Indiana House of Representatives and Indiana Senate following the nationwide census every 10 years. Before legislators are expected to return to the Statehouse in mid-to-late September to redraw the district boundaries, public meetings will be held in each of Indiana's nine congressional districts. The meetings will be grouped into geographic areas, including north, south and central.

The northern group meetings will be in Lafayette and Valparaiso on Friday, Aug. 6 and in Fort Wayne and Elkhart on Saturday, Aug. 7. In addition, the southern group will host meetings in Anderson and Columbus on Friday, Aug. 6 and Evansville and Sellersburg on Saturday, Aug. 7. The central meeting will held in Indianapolis on Wednesday, Aug. 11

State Rep. Tim Wesco (R-Osceola), chair of the House Committee on Elections and Apportionment, will chair the redistricting meetings in the north, and State Sen. Jon Ford (R-Terre Haute), chair of the Senate Committee on Elections, will chair the meetings in the south. Wesco and Ford are expected to co-chair the central Indiana meeting.

"We look forward to hosting these important meetings across the state to hear directly from the public on Indiana's redistricting process," Wesco said. "Hoosiers can be confident that we'll continue to meet all of our statutory and constitutional requirements."

"Public input on redistricting is extremely important to the map-drawing process," Ford said. "We look forward to hearing from Hoosiers from all over Indiana during these meetings."

Below is the complete schedule of public meetings regarding redistricting:

  • North – Friday, Aug. 6 and Saturday, Aug. 7 at the following Ivy Tech campuses:
    Lafayette | 10 a.m. to noon Friday, Aug. 6
    Valparaiso | 3-5 p.m. CDT Friday, Aug. 6
    Fort Wayne | 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Aug. 7
    Elkhart | 4-6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7
  • South – Friday, Aug. 6 and Saturday, Aug. 7 at the following Ivy Tech campuses:
    Anderson | 10 a.m. to noon Friday, Aug. 6
    Columbus | 4-6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6
    Evansville | 9-11 a.m. CDT Saturday, Aug. 7
    Sellersburg | 4-6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7

 

  • Central – Wednesday, Aug. 11 at the Statehouse

Indianapolis | 1-3 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 11 in the House Chamber at the Indiana Statehouse

 

Campus meeting room information will be updated as it's available on the Indiana General Assembly's website at iga.in.gov. Meetings will be livestreamed and archived at iga.in.gov.


Census data is delayed due to the pandemic, but is expected to arrive on Aug. 16. Wesco and Ford said an online portal with mapping software will be launched in late August that will allow the public to draw and submit their own maps for consideration.

SCS adding new weight room at Shelbyville High School

Shelbyville High School strength and conditioning coach Royce Carlton could hardly contain his excitement when asked about the school system’s commitment to building a new weight room.

“It doesn’t happen often where you get to design your own weight room,” said Carlton, who also serves as Shelbyville’s varsity baseball coach. “It is a unique experience to go through the whole planning process and plan for what we will need 10-20 years down the road.”

Shelbyville Central Schools expects to break ground in August for an 8,000 square foot weight room – four times as large as the current one.

“It will be in the upper echelon of Indiana high school weight rooms, especially (for a school) our size,” said Carlton.

The new facility will be located along the west side of the auxiliary gymnasium and is expected to be completed in March of 2022.

“For the size of our school and the number of students that use it during the day and after school, (the current weight room) just wasn’t big enough and pretty outdated,” said SCS superintendent Mary Harper. “It was something on the radar and the school board decided to push up that project.”

The current weight room’s 2,000 square feet will get a makeover and become additional workout and injury rehabilitation space.

“We want to keep the old weight room to have enough area for staff members to work out on cardio equipment and have a rehab area for (trainer) Chasity Wilson and add general (physical education classes) in there,” said Carlton. “It will be a nice relaxing environment that is not big and intimidating.”

Once Carlton learned of the project, he pulled information from various high school and collegiate weight rooms in an effort to make the environment special.

 

Royce Carlton

 

“I’ve traveled all around at the collegiate level from IU, Notre Dame and Alabama,” he said. “I’ve toured a lot of our conference schools to see what worked and what doesn’t work. I’ve been to Ben Davis and Noblesville to see what works for big schools and then I’ve taken everything and thrown it at a wall to see what stuck out in my mind.”

The inefficiency of the current weight room has been a challenge since day one for Carlton.

“You put 40 kids in the current weight room and it’s not very efficient,” he said. “I’ve changed (the layout) 3-4 times to make it more efficient.”

With help from athletic director Jenny DeMuth Hensley and assistant superintendent Kathleen Miltz, Carlton was able to make a presentation to the school board that was well received.

“It was intimidating but I think the presentation opened some eyes,” said Carlton. “(The project) moved a lot faster than anyone anticipated.”

Carlton estimates Shelbyville High School’s weight room ranks near the bottom of the eight Hoosier Heritage Conference schools.

“With the new equipment, layout and the technology, I will put this weight room up against anybody in the conference,” he said. “It will be top notch. I guarantee that.”

Harper confirmed that HVAC work will be completed in the old weight room as well as the current wrestling room. The flooring also will be replaced in both rooms.

In other SCS project news, Shelbyville Middle School will finally be rid of its troublesome swimming pool in 2022, according to Harper. The pool was shuttered once the renovation of the high school swimming facility was completed.

“We started having issues (with the middle school pool) several years ago, and when we built the new high school pool, the board decided it was advantageous to have one pool in the district,” said Harper. “We were putting a lot of money into it and couldn’t sustain it.”

The middle school pool area will become a multi-purpose room to be used for athletics, performing arts and science classes, according to Harper.

“It will be a big space where students can go and use for a variety of different reasons,” she said. “That project is slated to include an elevator to the upstairs gymnasium. Right now, it’s really difficult to use that space because it is not handicap accessible.

“That will make it an additional space that can be used, whether for band or performing arts or another athletic space. At least it will be used a little more than it is being used right now.”

Renovation work on Coulston Elementary School and Loper Elementary School will start in 2022 and last approximately 18 months.

“We are excited about that,” said Harper. “That will start probably in March or April. The principals are already looking at classrooms to shuffle kids.

“That will be probably an 18-month process because they will be doing it in steps. They will do a portion of a wing and then move the kids back in there and then start on another portion, and hopefully do as much as they can in the summer.”

Coulston and Loper are the school system’s two oldest elementary schools.

“Those two buildings, which haven’t been touched in a long time – basically just maintenance to those two buildings – this will be a fresh start for those buildings,” said Harper.

The school board is already preparing for 2024 projects for the middle school, Hendricks Elementary School, and the transportation and technology  departments.

“We will do renovations to those buildings to update them,” said Harper. “Any of the HVAC systems that have not been replaced will be replaced. And we’re looking  at adding additional security.

“The district has been real fortunate. The board has been frugal and planning appropriately to do these bond projects that won’t impact taxes because I know that is important to the community.”

With several new housing subdivisions currently under construction or nearing the construction phase in Shelbyville, the school system is aware of a potential growth spurt on the horizon.

“Before renovating Coulston and Loper, we looked at building an elementary school … but the cost. It would have to house 1,400 to 1,600 students. That’s a massive elementary school,” said Harper. “In the future, monitoring the increase in population, we do have property where we could build a new elementary school.”

Seniors Helping Seniors celebrates move to East Broadway office

A move from Howard Street to East Broadway for a Shelbyville business that goes out to people’s homes to make its biggest difference.

Seniors Helping Seniors celebrated its new Shelbyville location with a ribbon cutting and open house Tuesday.

Owner Tom Krughoff.

About five employees are in the office at a time with many more in the field.

Krughoff details the average client that seeks the Seniors Helping Seniors services.

As for the new location, Krughoff is happy with what it offers and that it’s a part of the downtown changes currently going on.

Seniors Helping Seniors was started n August 2013 by owners and Shelby County natives, Tom and Noell Krughoff/

Covid clinics at Shelbyville schools tonight, Thursday

The Shelby County Health Department is hosting Pfizer vaccination clinics tonight, 5:00 - 7:00 pm, at Shelbyville Middle School and at Shelbyville High School on Thursday, 10:00 am - 12:30 pm.

The vaccinations are for anyone age 12 and over.

Danone requests tax abatement as Shelby Co. is considered for new facility; 300 jobs

One of the top 15 food and beverage companies in the country is considering Shelby County for its newest location.

Representatives for Danone North America appeared before the Shelby County Council Tuesday seeking tax abatement as they also seek a site for a new facility.

 

 

Preliminary plans for the project were unveiled.

 

 

The project is described as one that would benefit the company especially as it relates to post-Covid and supply chains.

 

 

The Shelby County Council approved the requested tax abatement for the project should Danone locate here.  There is no timetable that has been mentioned for when the company will choose its new site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contractor set to replace Shelby County Bridge 9

A Shelby County bridge replacement, paid for in large part through a Community Crossing grant, has a contractor for the job.

 

County Commissioner Kevin Nigh details the bids opened Monday for the Bridge 9 replacement.

 

 

Nigh says the rising costs of construction material leaves the grant just a little short of the bid price, although that even comes under the engineer’s estimate.

 

 

The bridge is located on CR 600 West between 1000 North and 1100 North.  No scheduled start date has been announced but Nigh says the contractor hopes to have it complete by the end of the year.

 

 

 

Health officials urge precautions against mosquito-borne diseases as West Nile Virus activity is detected

State health officials are urging Hoosiers to take steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites after the West Nile virus was detected in Indiana for the first time this year.

So far in 2021, one mosquito sample collected in Vigo County has tested positive for West Nile virus. No human cases of West Nile virus disease have been detected so far this year; however, the Indiana Department of Health expects to see further West Nile activity throughout the state as the mosquito season progresses. 

“Many of us are looking forward to summer activities that were postponed or canceled last year, but we don’t want anyone to get sick from mosquito bites,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG. “Hoosiers in all parts of the state should take precautions to prevent mosquito bites whenever they are outdoors.”

Mosquitoes can transmit a variety of diseases. In 2019 and 2020, Indiana experienced outbreaks of another mosquito-borne disease, eastern equine encephalomyelitis (EEE). These outbreaks caused two human cases, one of which was fatal, and 18 horse cases in northern Indiana. Although EEE virus activity has not been detected in Indiana so far this year, health officials want Hoosiers to remain cautious.

State health officials recommend the following preventive measures:

  1. Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are active (especially late afternoon, dusk to dawn, and early morning);
  2. Apply an EPA-registered insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol to clothes and exposed skin;
  3. Cover exposed skin by wearing a hat, long sleeves and long pants in places where mosquitoes are especially active, such as wooded areas;
  4. Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home. 

Even a container as small as a bottle cap can become a mosquito breeding ground, so residents should take the following steps to eliminate potential breeding grounds:

  1. Discard old tires, tin cans, ceramic pots or other containers that can hold water;
  2. Repair failed septic systems;
  3. Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors;
  4. Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed;
  5. Clean clogged roof gutters, particularly if leaves tend to plug up the drains;
  6. Frequently replace the water in pet bowls;
  7. Flush ornamental fountains and birdbaths periodically; and,
  8. Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with predatory fish. 

About 80 percent of people infected with West Nile virus will not develop any symptoms at all, but about 20 percent will develop an illness accompanied by fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Fewer than 1 percent of people infected with West Nile virus will develop severe illness affecting the nervous system, which can include inflammation in the brain or the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. About one in 10 severe cases is fatal. People older than 60 years are at greatest risk of severe disease from West Nile virus.

While EEE virus disease is much less common than West Nile virus disease, it typically causes more severe illness. As with West Nile, some people infected with EEE will not develop any symptoms at all. Some people will develop an illness accompanied by fever, chills, joint pain or muscle pain. Some will recover from this illness without additional complications, but in others, the illness can progress to severe illness affecting the nervous system. About one in three severe EEE virus disease cases is fatal; however, patients who recover from severe illness often experience serious and permanent complications. People who are younger than 15 years and older than 50 years are at greatest risk of severe EEE virus disease.

People who think they may have West Nile virus or EEE virus disease should contact their healthcare providers.

To see the latest results of the state health department’s mosquito surveillance, go to https://gis.in.gov/apps/ISDH/Arbo/. To learn more about mosquito-borne diseases, visit https://www.in.gov/isdh/27793.htm.

Indiana Senate Republican Caucus offers internship opportunities

Applications are now open for the Indiana Senate Republican Caucus internship program for the 2022 legislative session.

This program offers paid spring-semester internships to current and recent college undergraduates as well as graduate students. Qualified applicants must be at least a college sophomore.

Interns are given a unique opportunity to gain practical knowledge of state government by working alongside Indiana senators at the Statehouse in downtown Indianapolis. This internship also allows students to obtain academic credit and provides a variety of scholarship and networking opportunities.

 

Jean Leising, State Senator for District 42

 

The Senate Republicans offer internship opportunities in the following areas:

  • Legislative interns are usually paired with two senators and provide constituent services, track and analyze bill data, staff Senate committee hearings, and conduct legislative and policy research.
  • Information Technology interns respond to IT needs of senators and staff, troubleshoot hardware and software issues, assist in the implementation of new technologies, and reformat and reimage computers.
  • Legal interns support the Senate attorney’s office and conduct legal and policy research, draft and file Senate motions and resolutions, and summarize amendments and conference committee reports.
  • Press Secretary interns track legislation, write news releases and op-eds, create newsletters and social media strategies, and work with members of the media.
  • Policy interns conduct legislative and policy research, track legislative proposals, and write memos on legislation.
  • Multimedia interns serve as Senate photographers and videographers, monitor online streaming of committees and session, create visual content for print and web, and assist in website management.

The internship runs from the end of December 2021 through mid-March 2022.

The application deadline is Oct. 31.

Go to www.indianasenaterepublicans.com/intern-program for more information or to fill out an application.

City of Shelbyville prepares for arrival of Covid money; new behavioral health specialist

The City of Shelbyville is preparing for the arrival of American Rescue Plan money.

 

The city’s common council approved the creation of a fund for the money to be provided by the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund.  The fund provides $350 billion for states, municipalities, counties, tribes, and territories, including $130 billion for local governments split evenly between municipalities and counties.

 

Shelbyville Mayor Tom DeBaun.

 

 

So, more specifically, what will, can, that money be used for.  The mayor says a new position, which will likely need grant funding after Covid money wraps up, will deal with human issues.

 

 

Growth in the city has prompted another position that the common council gave approval to the mayor to find funding for.  That is an additional planner for the city to work in Adam Rude’s office.

 

Shelbyville's project hopes to give downtown future with some feel for its past

Shelbyville’s downtown project - revamping traffic patterns, increasing pedestrian traffic - is hoping to take advantage of a swing back to days gone by.

Mayor Tom DeBaun remembers when downtown – small town USA started to change.

 

 

As for the future investment, what kind will it be.  The mayor contends the future of retail is still very real for Shelbyville’s downtown.

 

 

The downtown project is expected to switch sides for operations in early August and hoped to be completed in time for a holiday parade.  Mayor DeBaun says the project remains on time and on budget.

 

Shelbyville man charged in crash that split utility pole

A Shelbyville man was scheduled to appear in court Monday after a weekend accident resulted in his arrest.

About 7:30 pm Saturday, police responded to an auto accident at 1210 West Washington Street.  The police report says Daniel Smith, 40, was the driver of a 2010 Chrysler Sebring that crashed and split a telephone pole and destroyed a mailbox at the site.

The Shelbyville Police report states that Smith lied about another person being the driver who had fled the scene.

Smith has been charged with driving while suspended – prior, Possession of Marijuana - first time offense and less than 30 grams of pot, and leaving the scene of an accident.

 

 

 

Shelbyville's downtown asphalt and milling moved to start of July 21

Asphalt and milling schedule for Shelbyville's downtown area has been adjusted to new dates later this week.

A weather delay is listed as the reason that the asphalt and milling is now scheduled from July 21 - 27.  During this time, traffic and parking will be restricted in this area. 

The work had been slated to start today, July 19, and run through July 23.

 

Shelby Eastern approves EAP and service animals to aid mental and emotional efforts

The emotional and mental well-being of Shelby Eastern staff and students was a focus of two items on the school board's agenda Wednesday.

 

Superintendent Todd Hitchcock explained an EAP agreement with Community Health Network.

 

 

The superintendent notes all employees of the district can utilize the service.

 

 

At Morristown High School, service animals will be utilized to aid students.

 

Principal Jeremy Powers talks about the dogs that will aid their efforts with Special Education teacher Whitney Carlton.

 

 

Powers says it’s a new idea for the school as they find ways and feel out how to use the dogs to help in stressful situations.

 

 

Both measures were approved by the Shelby Eastern board at its Wednesday meeting.

 

 

 

Additional COVID-19 relief coming to SCUFFY

Shelby County United Fund (SCUFFY) is pleased to announce that it will receive a second COVID-19 Economic Relief Initiative grant for $132,057 from Indiana United Ways, the state professional association of which SCUFFY is a member. 

 

The grant will be used to support our community in meeting basic human needs brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The grant is one of 47 grants that Indiana United Ways is making to member organizations and community foundations through the initiative, which was made possible by funding Indiana United Ways received from Lilly Endowment Inc.

 

“SCUFFY has been a key convener and coordinator of our community’s response to meet human needs for decades. Even before this crisis, we knew that many families in Shelby County were not able to make ends meet - despite working. In the wake of COVID, those needs became even more dire. Thanks to the generous,continued support of Lilly Endowmentto our State Association, we can continue to help our community, through nonprofit partners, deal with and hopefully resolve the impacts of this trying time,” said Amber Dile, Board Chair for SCUFFY.

 

The second COVID-19 Economic Relief Initiative grant again calls for United Ways that receive funding to leverage partnerships and relationships to better meet COVID-related basic needs aligned with the social determinants of health as defined by the CDC.  Specifically, SCUFFY and a grant committee of community leaders will award funding to projects that provide food, shelter, clothing, utility assistance, child care, and addiction recovery support.

 

SCUFFY will begin accepting funding requests from area human and social service nonprofits whose IRS designation is in good standing beginning July 14.  Interested organizations should consult Blue River Community Foundation’s website for guidance on funding intent and application instructionshttps://app.smarterselect.com/programs/66820-Blue-River-Community-Foundation. A link to the application can also be found at www.scuffy.org.

 

In April 2020, Lilly Endowment helped Indiana United Ways establish the COVID-19 Economic Relief Initiative with an initial $30 million grant. Lilly Endowment made an additional $15 million grant in March to Indiana United Ways to support the initiative. Both grants are part of Lilly Endowment’s overall grantmaking to help organizations meet COVID-related needs. Since March 2020, Lilly Endowment has made grants totaling more than $210 million to organizations working in Indiana and across the nation as they respond to the pandemic.

 

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