Nearly 400 acres of Parke County now protected

Having spent years purchasing property near Turkey Run State Park, local entrepreneur and nature lover Joe McCurdy has donated to the Central Indiana Land Trust a conservation easement on 394 acres that provide a home to rare and endangered flora and fauna.

The terms of the conservation easement allow the property to stay in private ownership but retain its current character, even if sold. The Land Trust will monitor the property to ensure that the terms of the agreement are honored.

Joe McCurdy has been purchasing property near Turkey Run State Park for years. The owner of the Turkey Run Canoe & Camping near Bloomingdale, McCurdy learned sound forestry practices through a six-week woodland owner class offered by Purdue University and additional educational field days. The training he received covers practices such as proper tree planting, invasive control, timber stand improvement and sustainable harvesting.

“I developed an interest in forestry while helping on a Christmas Tree Farm, and later fell in love with the forests of Parke County,” McCurdy said. “I wanted to be sure my property always stay intact and isn’t divided, so I donated the easement to CILTI, and they’ll ensure that my family and future generations can enjoy it.”

The property is less than a half mile from Turkey Run State Park, and its western boundary is adjoined on three sides by state property managed by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Green Creek flows through the property.

It’s filled with wildflowers such as fire pink, shooting star and large-flowered trilliums, a rare plant in Central Indiana and one of the state’s most attractive species. The woods are loaded with neo-tropical migrant birds, including some rare species like the endangered cerulean warbler and rare worm-eating warbler and a population of Eastern box turtles.

“This is the largest property CILTI has ever protected, and a textbook example of what CILTI is all about,” said Cliff Chapman, CILTI executive director. “Although we focus on science-based conservation and an appreciation of plants, animals and ecosystem function, conservation is about people. The way to protect our most precious natural resources is through relationships and working with landowners who want to be good stewards of important sites.”

Because the property will remain in private ownership, it will not be open to the public. However, the public still benefits, Chapman notes, because protecting the habitats of rare and endangered species means they are more likely to be seen in public places as well.

Conservation easements are legal agreements between landowners and land trusts that place specific land-use restrictions on a property according to the landowner’s desires. Those restrictions are attached to the title of the property, so they remain in place even if the property is sold to new owners. This means landowners can derive financial benefits from the property enjoying it themselves, continuing to use it as a working property or even selling it so long as they use the property in ways consistent with the conditions of the conservation easement. Conservation easements also deliver certain tax benefits to landowners.

Food program kicks off today

School is out for the summer, but that doesn’t mean children in need of meals will go hungry. Local food banks, providers and volunteers are serving free breakfast and lunch to all children younger than age 18 at area schools and parks this summer.

No registration is required for any of the area programs.

Here is a list of programs:


Monday-June 30

• Crawfordsville High School, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Breakfast at 8 a.m.)

• Hose Elementary, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

• Hoover Elementary, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

• Nicholson Elementary, 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

• Mills School, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

• Willson School, 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

• Imperial Estates Park, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

• Milligan Park, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.


Monday-July 28, town park shelter house (Ladoga Elementary students only.)

Breakfast: 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.

Lunch: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Inclement weather: Ladoga Elementary cafeteria

(The program will kick off Monday with free food, bounce house, activities and informational and nutritional flyers.)

Fountain County

Now through Aug. 4

• Covington Park, June 5-30, 11 a.m. to noon

• Veedersburg Park, July 3-28, 11 a.m. to noon

• Attica Park, June 5-July 28, 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

• Hillsboro Park, June 5-Aug. 4, 11 a.m. to noon.

Fountain Central Jr./Sr. High School cafeteria

Now through June 23

• Breakfast: 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

•Lunch: 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Fountain Central Elementary cafeteria

July 24-Aug. 4

• Breakfast: 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

• Lunch: 11 a.m. to noon.

Chargers fall in sectional final to Bruins

LINDEN — Tri-West’s surging baseball team used a big third inning to gain some momentum and cruise to an 8-2 victory over North Montgomery in the championship game of the IHSAA Sectional Monday.

The sectional semifinal and final games, originally scheduled to be held at Crawfordsville, was moved to North Montgomery after storms last week damaged the baseball complex at Crawfordsville High School. 

North Montgomery, who ended the season 15-13, beat Lebanon 11-3 in the sectional’s opening round last week and slipped by Western Boone 2-1 in the semifinal Monday to play in a baseball sectional championship game for the first time since 2009. The last time the Chargers won a sectional title was 2001.

“It was fun for the kids and we made a nice run, and won a couple of close games and battled,” North Montgomery coach Mitch Merica said. “It was a good way to end the season. Obviously we had higher goals, but there’s not too many teams that was going to beat Tri-West today.”

The Bruins have won 17 of the last 18 games and used a five-run third inning to take the lead for good and win a sectional title for the first time since 2003 when Tri-West was in Class 2A. Now the Bruins (17-6) advance to play Indian Creek in the first game of the IHSAA Regional at Crawfordsville on Saturday. Indian Creek beat Beach Grove 1-0 in the sectional final at Danville.

North Montgomery took a 1-0 lead on Tri-West in the bottom of the first inning when Gregory Pietsch doubled to score Bryce Frederick. And Collin Knecht hit a home run over right-center field to put the Chargers ahead 2-0 in the bottom of the second.

“I thought we hit the ball hard at times,” Merica said. “We gave ourselves a chance early. They’re by far the best hitting team in the conference. Up and down the order, I mean, the middle of their order is murders’ row. They hit some unbelievable pitches hard, in the gap, for home runs. We’re disappointed we lost, but we’re not disappointed by our effort. They were just better than us today.”

In the top of the third, Tri-West’s Derek Wagner doubled to score Lucas Goodin, and courtesy runner Quinten Cooper later scored when Nick Rabe singled to right. The Bruins took the lead four good when Zachary Waters hit a three-run home run over right-center field to give Tri-West a 5-2 lead.

“That was huge,” Tri-West coach Ryan Oppy said. “We gave up those two runs early and the moral got kind of down. But that inning was huge and turned the tables for us.”

The Bruins, who made it to the sectional final with a 14-4 win over Frankfort in the other semifinal game, added three more runs in the top of the seventh. 

In the sectional semifinal game North Montgomery’s Devan Plant scored on a passed ball in the top of the first inning against Western Boone, but Peyton Young tied the game on Lance Oldham’s sacrifice fly to right field. The Chargers threatened to score in the second inning when runners moved to second and third base on a Western Boone error with one out. But a strikeout and a fly-out to first got the Stars out of the jam.

The Chargers nearly scored again in the sixth inning when Knecht singled and moved to second on a passed ball. Tyler Swick was walked to get two runners on with one out, but a fielder’s choice, twice at second base ended the inning.

North Montgomery won it with a run in the top of the seventh. Pietsch doubled and later scored from second base off Mitch Merica’s single to right.

“It was good to see two seniors step up and have two big hits, and we hung on,” Matt Merica said. “We hit the ball pretty well all day. It’s high school baseball, it’s sectional baseball, and you never know what’s going to happen.”

Mounties win baseball sectional championship

CLINTON — Southmont’s baseball team went fishing between games Saturday and hooked themselves a sectional championship as they defeated Rockville 2-1 to claim the Class 2A Sectional 44 baseball championship.

After winning their semifinal game against North Putnam, the team found a fishing spot close to South Vermillion High School and went to relax and get ready for the title game. Word is that they landed a few fish.

They came back to the baseball field and behind the one-hit pitching performance of Boone Welliever and Cam Chadd, they claimed the trophy.

In winning their first sectional since 2002, the Mounties run their record to 14-11 and advance to the regional round next weekend, where they will take on Ritter at Park Tudor.

They found a way to score two runs and the pitchers made it stick.

“Boone had that no-hitter into the sixth,” Coach and proud father Jamie Welliever said. “We played good defense behind him. Boone has been a three-sport athlete his entire career at Southmont, and I know he is a clutch competitor. He is always ready, and tonight we gave him the ball. His slider was really working and he got a bunch of outs with it.”

Boone struck out six while walking two. When the Rox got their first hit in the sixth, a double that put the tying run at second with a runner at third, Coach Welliever made the change on the mound.

“Cam finished up the game earlier today (against North Put),” he said, “and I knew he was ready to go. I have trusted Cam his entire career, whether it is on the mound or on defense. He is a great competitor.”

With one out in that sixth, Chadd got an infield out that scored the Rox run, and then got another groundout that ended the inning. The junior got a 1-2-3 inning in the seventh, including a game-ending strikeout, to pick up the biggest save of his career.

The Mounties got their two runs earlier.

Ryan Stanley led off the second by reaching on Rockville’s only error of the game. Austin Manion walked to move him to second, he reached third on a fielder’s choice and scored on a passed ball.

In the fifth, Boone Welliever walked (he had been hit his first two times up), was sacrificed to second by Cole Wemer and scored on a Brandon Rogers single to left field, which happened to be Southmont’s first hit of the game. 

In all, the Mounties had three hits off Rockville pitcher Kegan Wimsett, who went the distance and picked up the loss, as the Rox fall to 17-11 to end their season. Wimsett had the only hit for his team as well.

The sectional championship highlights a season of ups and downs for the Mounties, but the trophy they took home proves the work was worth it.

“Sometimes those ups and downs make you better if you work hard at it and fight through the bad,” Coach Welliever said. “Our schedule was probably beneficial to us, especially since we played several close games during the season. I do know that our four seniors and their leadership were very important to this championship.”

Coach Welliever was a member of the first Southmont team to win a baseball sectional, back in 1979, and coached the Mounties to a sectional title in 1988. This one, with his son, was a little special.

“This win was for all of Southmont, and he is included in that,” Boone Welliever said, ice bag on the arm. “It was an honor to be chosen to pitch this game, and it’s a little more special having my Dad as the coach. This is my last high school sport with him, and this championship makes a lot of those practices where we might have gone at it a little bit even more special.”

The regional game next Saturday is scheduled for an 11:30 a.m. start.

Southmont survived a late scare by North Putnam and advanced to the sectional finals with a 5-4 win in the Class 2A tournament at South Vermillion.

The Mounties, who move to 13-11, got a run in the second, three in the third and another in the fifth to stay in front of the the four runs scored by the Cougars in the top of the seventh.

Cole Wemer picked up the win for the Mounties, getting his second pitching victory of the sectionals after beating Cloverdale last week. Cam Chadd pitched the last two innings and was tagged for the four runs, only two of which were earned.

“Wemer was solid, and Chadd was ready to go,” Jamie Welliever said. “We were solid defensively behind Wemer and not behind Chadd. We were not aggressive on the ball.”

Wemer threw 107 pitches, allowed two hits while walking six and striking out six. He pitched out of a couple jams, and Logan Smith had a big diving catch to end a bases-loaded threat in the fifth.

Wemer helped himself at the plate, reaching base twice and scoring twice. Risty Bullerdick had two hits, was hit once, had one RBI and scored twice. Brandon Rogers had a hit and scored the other run. Chadd had two hits and an RBI.

Max Haste started on the mound for the Cougars, whose season ends at 11-14. He went 2.3 innings before giving way to Jack Kendall.

Kendall had the big blow in the seventh with a three-run homer. It was the senior’s first dinger of the season.

Post 72 honors fallen in annual ceremony

So much time has passed since Bill Stieg came home from the Pacific, he fears Americans no longer appreciate what World War II was all about.

“I think it’s good that people remember what has happened in the past, and maybe we can prevent it from happening again,” said Stieg, who served with the U.S. Navy Reserves on the LST 1025 from 1945-1946.

Local veterans, dignitiaries, families and Cub Scouts gathered Monday for the American Legion Post 72’s annual Memorial Day ceremony at Oak Hill Cemetery North.

It was one of a number of programs held at area cemeteries to pay tribute to the nation’s fallen heroes and say thank you to the veterans still around to tell their stories.

Coming to Oak Hill was an honor for Bob Garing, who served in the Navy from 1951-1955 and is a veteran of Korea.

“Being an American, it’s our obligation to honor our fallen brothers and sisters,” he said.

Mayor Todd Barton read a Memorial Day proclamation. He asked those gathered near the cemetery’s war memorial to think of the total freedom they had to leave the ceremony and do whatever they pleased.

“We can only do that because these men and women were willing to give their lives to defend that freedom,” Barton said.

Guest speaker Brig. Gen. Wayne Black, assistant adjutant general - Army of the Indiana National Guard, urged Americans to pause and reflect on the sacrifices paid by those in uniform.

“They are the beacon of hope that democracy, freedom, equality and lasting peace will prevail across our world,” he said.

Cub Scouts from Pack No. 909 posted the colors for the Pledge of Allegiance. Post 72’s Honor Guard presented a rifle salute and played Taps.

The Honor Guard also presented at the other Oak Hill cemeteries as well as Odd Fellows, Old Town and Calvary.

Sarah Hutchens’ 9-year-old son, Lucas, was part of the Scout pack.

“I think it’s just important he understands the sacrifices that a great many people have made,” she said, as Lucas passed out small American flags.

That’s a message his 11-year-old sister, Lacy, an incoming sixth grader has already received.

“People sacrificed themselves so we can have a free country,” she said. “So we need to honor them for that.”

Soon-to-be first grader Jekory Howard watched as the Honor Guard pointed its rifles to the sky. Jekory, whose grandfather Mike Spencer commands the Honor Guard, is recovering from being hit by a car in February.

After the guard had marched away and the Scouts lowered their flags, Jekory raised his arm to salute.