LOCAL NEWS

County gears up for big weekend

Crawfordsville and Montgomery County is prepared for a big weekend of racing and good food.

With nearly 15,000 fans expected to be in town for the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Indiana National, the popular Taste! of Montgomery County at the General Lew Wallace Study and Museum and the Finish Line Festival, there will be something to do for people of all ages.

Team trucks and fans of the national dirt bike racing series have been arriving in the area since Tuesday. Racing begins today with amateurs. The main event follows Saturday when many of the world’s top riders will compete for the Indiana National Title at Ironman Raceway. Amateur racing will resume Sunday.

Montgomery County Visitors Bureau Director Heather Shirk said the weekend is a busy one, but it is big for the county.

“The race helps put Crawfordsville on the map,” Shirk said. “With the race events and the Taste we will be busy, but are excited about it all.”

Mayor Todd Barton is a big supporter of all the activities at Ironman Raceway. He said this race, which is broadcast internationally, helps promote the city. He also likes the financial impact some Crawfordsville businesses receive.

“The upcoming race brings so many positives to our community,” Barton said. “We are very excited by its return each year and I know it has a significant impact on our local business. In addition, the positive attention our community receives is immeasurable.”  

Local hotels have been sold out for months.

Niki Copeland, manager of Hampton Inn and the Comfort Inn, said the weekend activities keeps her rooms full. Copeland also is the president of the Montgomery County Convention and Visitors Commission. 

Montgomery County Sheriff Mark Casteel said his department knows what to expect and is prepared for the crowds.

“We have had no problems with the motocross people who come into town for this race,” Casteel said. “Traffic should be fine as local people have learned what to expect.”

Law enforcement will have a mobile post parked in the camping area of Ironman Raceway.

Crawfordsville Main Street has organized today’s Finish Line Festival. It is free to the public and will feature entertainment, exhibits, food and the Journal Review MX rider autograph area. The event is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

The Taste of Montgomery County runs from noon to 10 p.m. on the grounds of the Lew Wallace Study. Entertainment and food provided by Montgomery County eateries will be featured. Tickets can still be purchased today at a $1 discount at the Study, the Visitors Bureau office and other downtown

businesses.

Linnsburg family recalls storm

LINNSBURG — Hearing the laugh of her five-month-old grandson, Owen, on Thursday morning brought pure joy to Tiffany Buck of Linnsburg. After experiencing a life-threatening tornado on Wednesday, Tiffany was thankful her family is alive.

Tiffany, who was babysitting her grandson Wednesday, was watching the approaching storm from her back door, which entered into an attached garage. Her husband Brian was entering the garage when the roof started to peel away from the walls. 

Brian yelled to get to the basement. Tiffany, who was carrying Owen in her arms, clamored down the steps as the roof gave way, causing all three to tumble down the steps. Brian felt fortunate to even make it to the basement.

“We barely made it to the basement,” Brian said. “I actually got sucked down the steps when the garage roof blew off. After I gathered myself and was able to stand up, it was all over. I don’t think it lasted 30 seconds.”

When they emerged from the basement, the trio were greeted by Brian’s father, Art. He told them he had just finished mowing and had gotten into his SUV when the severe storm hit. He was about 100 yards from his son’s house and watched the tornado ram into it. The windshield of his SUV blew out on the driver’s side. 

Art could only watch the harrowing scene unfolded. He saw three tool sheds and four silos destroyed into a million pieces and blown far from their foundations. He then saw the house get hit, knowing his son, daughter-in-law and the infant were in the house.

As Brian exited through the destroyed garage he was met by his father, and all found relief knowing the only injury was a bump on Owen’s head.

“We were fortunate,” Brian said. “Thank God we were alright. I would have taken every bone in my body being broken to ensure my grandson was OK. We all are OK and that is awesome.”

On Thursday, friends, neighbors and business acquaintances were at the farm helping to clean up. Brian said people just started showing up with equipment to help the family.

Just to the north of the Buck farm lies the home of Steve Mason. His home also was damaged, but his front lawn with many trees took the brunt of the storm. No tree was left unscathed and many were uprooted. 

“I was at work when I got a text from my wife that a tornado was close,” Mason said. “The very next text I got from her said ‘Help.’ I immediately left work and got to the house through the downed power lines. Things were a mess.”

Eastside Baptist pastor Steve Whicker was one of the first to arrive at the Mason home after Wednesday’s storm. He could not get up to the driveway, so he walked to the house. He saw the need and immediately notified church members. They were able to tarp the roof of the Mason home and clear a path through the driveway before returning Thursday to continue the clean-up. 

“We believe in loving God and loving people,” Whicker said. “Today we are seeing loving people being practiced.”

Mason was relieved to have the help, especially after he got word from his insurance agent that the clean-up would not be covered on his homeowners insurance.

THE AFTERMATH

Strong. Resilient. Inspiring.

Those are the kinds of words Indiana Governor Mike Pence used Thursday to describe Montgomery County residents when he visited areas damaged by Wednesday’s tornado.

The Republican vice presidential candidate cut his time on the campaign trail short to visit Kokomo in Howard County and Mace and Linnsburg in Montgomery County. The National Weather Service confirmed that Montgomery County was hit by an EF-2 tornado, while Kokomo was damaged by an EF-3 tornado.

“It is heartbreaking and inspiring in the very same moment,” Pence said, “the ways these families have stepped up to this inclement weather. It’s inspiring to see the way this community’s come together. Neighbors and friends and first responders, it makes me very proud of the efforts here in Montgomery County and Howard County. And it makes me proud to be a Hoosier.”

Pence walked around and talked to families whose homes were destroyed. He, along with U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly and U.S. Representative Todd Rokita, made sure each of the families were doing OK and that they had everything they needed to come back from the devastation.

“To every family, it’s heartbreaking,” Sen. Donnelly said. “One thing I’ve found with all Hoosiers is we stand and fight. Everybody here in Montgomery County is saying, ‘This is our home. We’re rebuilding.’ And so we’re in this together. And I want everyone here to know that we’re not only here in this together, I’ve got your back.”

Jeri Storm of Linnsburg was in tears as she stood and looked at everyone on her property, knowing they were there for her. Storm’s roof was torn off of her house, and she simply can’t live in it for a while. But they will rebuild. And it could have been worse. 

“It’s truly remarkable to me that we had a tornado of this magnitude and did not have more serious injuries — or worse — in Indiana,” Pence said. “It’s a testament to first responders. It’s a testament to officials who got the word out and members of the media who helped get the word out. But I also see a lot of God’s grace in evidence today.”

Pence said the state will continue to provide resources for Montgomery County as needed, including deploying Department of Corrections personnel to help with the cleanup. However, he said, anything he or the state can do play a supporting role in times like this.

“It is the first responders and it’s the organizations right here in Montgomery County that are coming alongside these families,” Pence said. “It’s inspiring to see.”

One of the people whose organization falls into that category is Emergency Management Director Shari Harrington.

“I think it’s important that they show their support for rural America just as much as they do the large events,” Harrington said. I know Kokomo got hit harder than we did. The governor told me, he said, ‘I don’t want you to think that this is any less of an incident than that. And that meant a lot. And I think it’s good for them to see how rural America can really pull together and get some things done.”

Harrington estimates Wednesday’s tornado and storm damaged around 36 homes and outbuildings, and she’s anxious to know what kind of loss the county will suffer from crop damage.

Harrington plans to talk to Montgomery County Commissioners about declaring a state of emergency once official numbers are in. If the declaration is accepted, this will help provide the county with support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Seeing Double: Southmont's Cody brothers are twin linemen

Opposing teams aren’t seeing double when they look across at Southmont’s offensive line. Instead, they’re only seeing Corey and Mason Cody, the twin brothers — both linemen in their junior season — on the Mounties’ varsity football team.

The Cody brothers. The Cody twins. Cody squared. Many times, it’s just Cody.

“There’s probably 10 different nicknames,” Mason said. “Whatever works for whoever it is.”

No, there’s no need for teams to do a double take. Though in middle school some opponents may have been a bit confused when the twins swapped places on the line in an attempt to throw teams off.

It never really worked anyway.

“I feel like it helped us more,” Corey said. “It gave us the mental aspect of, ‘Oh man, we’re throwing them a curve ball.’”

They like to have fun with it when they can, even when they were younger. It was several years ago, when they were 3 or 4 years old, when they got into some trouble. Their dad, Sean, put them in timeout where they had to stand, facing each other, with their backs against opposite walls.

“Dad said we weren’t allowed to move,” Corey said. “So instead of moving, we took our clothes off and switched them.”

When their dad returned he was furious until they told him they only swapped their clothes.

“He got to laughing so hard that we weren’t in trouble anymore,” Corey said.

It can be amusing. Even Desson Hannum, Southmont’s head football coach, is confused at times.

“It’s not intentional,” Mason said. “But it’s funny when it happens.”

With both playing guard on the offensive line, it can be easy to do. 

“If I mess up a block, he’ll say, ‘Mason!’” Corey said. “And I’ll just look back and say, ‘It’s Corey, Coach.’”

Hannum remembers the recent mix-up, but says it doesn’t happen often. He’s known the Cody’s for years and have watched them grow up through the football program. 

For others, though, it happens regularly.

“It depends on who the people are, but it can usually happen on a daily basis,” Mason said. “Once or twice a day.”

Mainly it’s new students, new teachers and substitute teachers, they say.

There are differences between the two boys though. The biggest is in size. Both are 5-foot-8, but Mason is listed at 215 pounds and Corey is listed at 190. The size gap happened last spring. Mason spent more time in the weight room and also competed in the discus throw event for the track and field team while Corey played baseball. 

They both wrestle at Southmont, too.

As for football, both are exactly the kind of players Hannum wants involved in his program.

“Those two boys have been some of our hardest workers,” Hannum said. “You know that they’re going to be there, that you can count on them and that they’re going to do what they need to do. And they’re just good kids.”

Residents recall the rumbling

MACE — Residents only had about 15 minutes to take cover before the rumbling hit and the tornadoes began to do their damage.

“The TV was out of control!” exclaimed 3-year-old Zachary.

The young boy was staying with his grandmother in Linnsburg when the warnings were sent. She gave Zachary a Popsicle and a pillow, and the two of them took cover in the hallway.

Many residents in Mace and Linnsburg, some who suffered severe storm and tornado damage to their properties, were also able to get to safety. But they had to do it quickly.

“It went from totally calm to ‘Run,’” said Brian Amick of Linnsburg with a snap of his fingers. “It pretty much shook the entire house.”

No injuries are being reported, but several homes and barns sustained severe storm damage. Some barns and corn fields were destroyed.

Julie Davis of Mace was supposed to be celebrating her daughter’s birthday, but instead found herself outside assessing the damage done to her property. Her large front yard tree — destroyed. Her yard was a complete mess of debris, both of trees and her porch. Power lines were done on the property her family had just bought last week. 

Across the street from Davis, Jeanne Day and Diana McCormick stood outside in disbelief that a tornado had ripped through their town once again.

“This is the third time since I’ve lived here that we’ve had a tornado,” Day said. “This was closer. We’ve never had it go right in here before.”

This one was the worst I’ve felt since I’ve been here,” McCormick agreed. “The rumbling was a lot louder.”

Day explained it began with wind. The wind picked up, the thunder moved in and then a rumble like a freight train could be heard right outside of her home.

However, Day, McCormick and Amick all agreed they were lucky. Their towns were lucky. It could have been worse.

For Gary Anderson of Mace, who walked around his property looking at three destroyed barns, another one severely damaged and at least a million dollars worth of antique tractors among the debris, he was lucky for another reason.

Anderson had several friends come out to help him with the rubble, and they all understood the disbelief he was feeling. One of them actually lost his brother in the tornado that ripped through the same area in May 1995.

Anderson’s friend E.J. Dixon sold him the crops that also fell victim to the storm’s destruction.

“This is when you find out who your friends are,” Dixon said.