More deaths than usual, intentional and accidental, made their way into this area’s top 10 news articles of 2013.
1. Three individuals were arrested Jan. 5 for the early morning Dec. 30, 2012, murder of Nancy Hershman, 68, Milan, reported Sgt. Noel Houze, Indiana State Police Versailles District public information officer, The Herald-Tribune reported Jan. 8.
ISP investigators with assistance from the Colerain Township Police Department, Cincinnati, arrested Allison Moore, 22, and two 15-year-old males from that township.
Ripley County Prosecutor Ric Hertel said the murder was connected to a burglary that took place in Cross Plains around 11:30 p.m. Dec. 29, 2012. Moore, another adult and three juveniles took $600 to $700 and an ounce of marijuana from a home there, then drove to Milan.
Once inside Hershman’s home, the trio were apparently confronted by the woman, according to Houze. During a struggle with a .40-caliber handgun, the victim was shot in the head area once, Hertel said. Police do not believe anything was missing from the Milan home.
After hearings held in Ripley Circuit Court, Judge Carl Taul determined the two teen accomplices, Sean Nichols and Daniel Hodge, will be tried as adults. Moore’s trial is slated to begin March 31, according to Hertel.
2. When Ivy Tech Community College, Batesville, began its spring semester Jan. 14, students arrived to a beautiful building.
The school, which relocated to a structure purchased from Forethought on State Road 46, went through an extensive renovation. Before the semester started, Hank Ahaus, associate vice chancellor of student affairs, predicted, “It’s going to be a whole new facility .... (and) is just going to be fabulous with state-of-the-art science labs and up-to-date computer labs. All our technology is going to be top-notch,” he revealed.
Accolades were flowing May 14 at the site’s dedication. Nodding at Dr. Jim Roberts, Batesville Community School Corp. superintendent, Chancellor Dr. Jim Helms reported to close to 200 at the outdoor ceremony, “We’ve been talking for two years about a futuristic curriculum.” College President Thomas Snyder called the larger campus “very impressive. You did this,” he emphasized. When the state Legislature couldn’t find additional funding for ITCC, “this community stepped up.”
Of the project’s $6 million cost, Batesville raised over $3 million of its $3.5 million commitment with Ivy Tech contributing the rest. The funding came from the city, BCSC, John A. Hillenbrand Foundation, local businesses, organizations and individuals.
Aug. 20 was “an exciting day in Batesville High School history,” pointed out principal Andy Allen. For the first time, 85 students began taking 122 dual enrollment classes at the larger Ivy Tech campus. As excited as the students must have been, parents had to be equally ecstatic. Their children were taking college courses – with zero tuition costs. Just this past semester parents collectively saved $109,800 (if those credit hours were taken at Indiana University-Bloomington).
3. Three of six South Ripley High School students who had been attending a Future Farmers of America daylong event at Hopewell Baptist Church and were involved in a March 7 two-vehicle crash were killed, according to the Indiana State Police.
A 1999 Dodge Ram 3500 driven by Thomas Crawford, 17, Dillsboro, was eastbound on Fairgrounds Road and a 1996 Ford F-250 pickup driven by Timothy Bowman, 17, Osgood, was northbound on County Road 850 West, reported Master Trooper Ben Bastin. As they approached the four-way stop intersection, “preliminary reconstruction findings indicated both vehicles disregarded the stop signs and the Dodge struck the F-250 broadside,” according to the release.
On April 12, the ISP public information officer reported, “There is nothing to indicate they (the two truck drivers) were racing .... At the time of impact, the speed of the Dodge was 75-81 mph and the Ford was going 26-28 mph ...”
Crawford admitted to the delinquent acts of reckless homicide and reckless driving May 16, according to The Herald-Tribune. About 50 people, including victims’ family members, filled the courtroom as Ripley Circuit Court Judge Carl Taul read the disposition that was agreed upon by the juvenile, his parents and attorney and the prosecutor. The teen was placed in a secure juvenile detention facility for 120 days with 30 days suspended. He must admit to his traffic infraction filed in Versailles Town Court and pay fines and fees associated with the ticket. Crawford was placed on reporting probation until age 21.
4. The discovery of human skeletal remains off Big Cedar Road near Cedar Grove was investigated starting April 7 by the Franklin County Sheriff ‘s Department, Franklin County Coroner’s Office, Indiana Conservation Officers and Indiana State Police. Persons walking along Big Cedar Creek discovered bones near the creek’s edge.
They were identified as those of Katelyn Markham, 21, Fairfield, Ohio, reported Houze. The young woman was reported as a missing person to Fairfield police Aug. 14, 2011. The officer explained, “The Fairfield Police Department and Indiana State Police are working in concert to conduct an investigation into the death of Miss Markham.”
After reviewing the results of postmortem examinations conducted by various forensic specialists, in August county coroner Wanda Lee ruled Markham’s cause of death as undetermined and her manner of death as homicide, Houze said. On Aug. 13, the coroner’s office released her remains so her family could make funeral arrangements.
ISP and Fairfield Police officers are continuing to work jointly in their investigation into the death. Anyone with information is urged to call the ISP at 812-689-5000, Fairfield Police at 513-867-6094 or Crime Stoppers at 888-352-3040.
5. Last year Charles “Shorty” Whittington, Grammer, owner of Batesville Aviation Services, purchased a private airport in rural Batesville from Hill-Rom Holdings and Hillenbrand Inc., at the time one of six owned by businesses in the whole United States.
His PowerPoint presentation at the Nov. 12 Batesville Farm-City Banquet called the newly-opened public airport “The Most Important Mile of Pavement in Franklin County.” He projected that six jobs could grow to 23 and that 300 airport users could triple to 1,000 in the future. Of the $400,000 payroll, the owner estimated, “That can get up to $1.3 million pretty quick.”
Whittington said he and the personnel care about the airport “because aviation is in our blood, and we are dedicated to providing regional economic growth, superior aircraft maintenance and first-class customer service for personal and corporate aircraft.”
6. The Southeast Indiana Health Center, 374 Northside Drive, Suite F, Batesville, opened its doors to patients June 4. Its mission is to provide for the health and wellness needs of residents of Franklin and Ripley counties who are medically uninsured.
The vision for the clinic was first announced in 2011 when Dr. Stephen Glaser approached Margaret Mary Community Hospital leaders. He said, “We have been wanting to do this for a long time .... There were a lot of hoops to jump through to comply with the different regulations,” the newspaper reported June 7.
The clinic is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5-7:30 p.m. The hope is that eventually it will be open weekdays for four to five hours a day. Patients must meet eligibility requirements to take advantage of a wide range of services.
The clinic is staffed by volunteers, including 13-14 physicians. “We do need the help of the community,” Glaser pointed out. Persons wanting to volunteer or see if they are eligible for services can contact SEIHC manager Paul Tyrer at 932-4515.
7. In 2010, Batesville leaders created a 57-acre Tax Increment Financing allocation area located north and south of I-74. A year ago, with O’Reilly Auto Parts, Batesville Urgent Care and Steak ‘n Shake poised to open near the I-74 Batesville interchange, Mayor Rick Fledderman wanted to take advantage of extra property tax dollars they and other future businesses will generate.
At the mayor’s urging, the Batesville Redevelopment Commission, Batesville Advisory Plan Commission and city council voted to expand the TIF area by 398 acres. It includes acreage north of S.R. 46 and east of Batesville High School; north of the first district along S.R. 229 toward Oldenburg, such as the former drive-in, Nobbe estate property and new Margaret Mary physicians center; and the downtown area.
At an April 3 economic development roundtable in Lawrenceburg, the mayor learned the power of TIF. Bed Techs is relocating from Milan to Greendale, which provided $1.5 million in incentives – $500,000 from a Lawrenceburg Regional Economic Development Grant and $1 million from the city’s TIF fund. “At this point, it’s hard for us to compete with that.”
8. Members of Catholic churches in the Batesville Deanery learned June 6 how their parishes will be restructured. Archbishop Joseph Tobin held a press conference at St. Louis Church, where he announced his decisions that will affect 30 parishes. Twelve churches have closed or will close: Holy Guardian Angels; St. Mary of the Rock; St. Anne; St. John the Baptist; St. Joseph; St. Martin; St. Paul; St. Denis; St. Mary Magdalene; St. Pius; St. John the Evangelist; and St. Maurice, St. Maurice. Those parishes are in the process of merging with remaining churches. Other churches are being linked and partnered to consolidate services.
The archbishop told some dismayed listeners, “I think this was a respectful process, and I think the archdiocese is going to be healthier, even though that doesn’t take away your pain.”
9. Principals at three of four Batesville public schools began their leadership roles last summer. Batesville High School principal Andy Allen, 35, taught U.S. government there for six years and filled in as interim assistant principal for two months before leaving to gain two years of assistant principal experience, first at North Decatur Junior-Senior High School near Greensburg, then at Plainfield High School near Indianapolis. He served as BHS associate principal for four years. Allen is one of several organizers of Team Batesville, a community health initiative.
David Strouse was approved as the new Batesville Middle School principal, effective July 1. The 38-year-old’s achievements as Greensburg Junior High School principal for the previous three years included increasing the amount of instructional time for each class by 13 percent, implementing the state’s RISE teacher evaluation system as a pilot school during the 2011-12 school year, starting reading and math remediation programs and designing collaboration time into the school day.
Heather Haunert was named Batesville Primary School principal July 15. The 39-year-old began her career as a BPS third-grade teacher for one year, then worked as an office manager at Lingeman Medical Products, Indianapolis, for three years before returning here. She served as the media specialist at BPS and Batesville Intermediate School from 2000-06, then was the instructional technology specialist at BPS, BIS and St. Louis School from 2006-08 before switching to teaching fifth grade reading and language arts at BIS.
10. Sunman clerk-treasurer Kristina Schneider, 55, pled guilty to the charge of public official misconduct and was sentenced Nov. 1 in Ripley Superior Court by special Judge Jon Webster of Jennings Circuit Court, the newspaper reported.
According to a probable cause affidavit filed Dec. 13, 2012, in that court, an audit of the town’s financial records was completed by the Indiana State Board of Accounts in 2012. The document stated Schneider had used the town’s credit card for eight personal purchases totaling $1,786 in 2009, seven purchases totaling $1,318 in 2010 and two purchases adding up to $525 in 2011.
She refunded the entire amount to the town May 24, 2012, and paid audit expenses to the ISBA for the same amount, the affidavit revealed.
At the sentencing hearing, the defendant apologized “to the court, my fellow citizens and certainly to my family and friends ... My mishandling of the credit account was unprofessional. This past year has taken its toll on me both physically and emotionally ....” Webster entered a judgment of a Class A misdemeanor and one year of reporting probation.
Schneider resigned from the position she had held for 23 years by letter Nov. 21. A Ripley County Republican Party caucus appointed Chelsea Eckstein as the new clerk-treasurer. Her first day of work was Dec. 9.
Debbie Blank can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.