Southmont team proves its king of the crops

December 19, 2014

NEW MARKET — Gary Mosbaugh came to Southmont High School in 1978 to teach agriculture and was interested in developing FFA teams that took part in the various judging contests offered in the national youth agricultural organization. 

It took 14 years for one of his crop judging teams to win a state championship in 1992. Southmont repeated the feat in 1999, and amazingly every year since. Once again a Mountie crop judging team took top honors at the state contest, stretching the winning streak to 25 consecutive years. The latest championship means Southmont has ruled the state in crop judging for a quarter of a century.

“It really is amazing,” Mosbaugh said. “I have been at Southmont for 36 years and the last 25 of them our kids have won state championships. The credit goes to the kids because they are so willing to put in the time and hard work. They do the judging, not me.”

Southmont recently sent three high school teams to compete in the state contest along with one junior high team. All four teams excelled. The first place high school team consisted of Caylee Leclercq, Emily Tricker, Natalee Brann and Kaitlyn Tricker. South’s high school team comprised of Drake Davis, Dani Alspaugh, Brayden Gilliland and Hunter Isenberg was runner-up. A third high school team, which included David Clark, Josie Beach, Cassidy Leclercq and Liz Link, finished sixth out of a 44 teams from throughout Indiana.

To make last week’s finishes even more impressive, the Southmont FFA high school members had six of the top 10 scores at the state contest. Caylie Leclercq placed first and Emily Tricker placed second. Brann finished in third place with Kaitlen Tricker finishing fifth. Davis placed sixth and Alspaugh landed in eighth place.

The Southmont junior high team did not want to be out-done by their senior teams. So, junior high students Holly Shaver, Bernice Crosby, Hannah Isenberg and Erin Williams won a state championship of their own the same day against 11 other Indiana teams.

Team members credit Mosbaugh’s guidance as the reason for their success. From using resources their teacher has collected through the years to the three-hour practice sessions which take place after school, students have bought into the program.

“When we sign up to be on a team, we all know there will the three-hour practice sessions and we will use all the crop samples Mr. Mosbaugh has collected from doing this for so long,” Brann said. “Mosbaugh brings so much experience that we can all appreciate and feed off of.”

The majority of the Southmont soil judging teams members have hopes of working in agricultural careers. Many plan on attending college and Mosbaugh has made sure his judging teams have opportunity to attend college by offering in-house scholarships for those finding success in FFA.

“We set up a scholarship fund several years ago and our kids know they have a chance to win scholarships for doing well at state contests,” Mosbaugh said.

Championship team members each receive $500 as does any individual placing first in the state. Junior high team members each receive $100 scholarships for placing first.

The money does not go unnoticed by the team members, but there is more to gain than just the scholarships.

“There are so many benefits from being on a team,” South FFA president Kaitlyn Tricker said. “It will prepare me for a job in agriculture someday and teaches me how to study. The opportunity for scholarship money is great. This all represents a lot of hard work with great reward.”

The teams, who won every competition they entered during the contest season, will now take time off until next school year. But in the meantime, don’t be surprised to hear Mosbaugh humming the New Kids on the Block 1989 hit “You Got It” as he strolls down the school hallways.


Train blocks traffic for two hours

December 19, 2014

Mechanical malfunctions caused a stand-still train to block traffic for more than two hours Thursday morning in downtown Crawfordsville.

Crawfordsville Assistant Police Chief Jim Sessions said the train received a red signal while passing through town, which prompted the train to stop at 9:37 a.m. After stopping, the train was unable to move uphill until another engine arrived at 11:49 a.m.

Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton and the Crawfordsville Police Department spoke with CSX during the blockage. Barton said Thursday’s blockage wasn’t related to the April blockages, which were caused by there not being enough locomotives to power the trains.

“We haven’t had train blockages for awhile,” Barton said. “CSX addressed the past problems, but unfortunately this was a mechanical malfunction. We are still working with them and hope to have some changes.”

Barton added he is looking at long-term plans to fix the issue. He will soon meet with city departments to discuss short-term plans for traffic.

Looking forward, however, Barton acknowledged a long-term fix will take time to construct. The Indiana Department of Transportation would have to approve possible plans, since Market Street is part of State Road 32, State Road 47 and U.S. 136.

“Anything we do is going to take money and involve several agencies,” Barton said. “The city cannot do anything without INDOT’s approval because that is a state highway and a railroad.”

Barton said it would be more effective for citizens to contact CSX at 877-835-5279 to express concerns over stand still trains.

“The city often gets calls about stopped trains, but we cannot control those situations,” Barton said. “The city and its police department can call CSX, but calls from citizens will better portray how much of a problem idle trains are.”

Road construction restrictions on Interstate 74 also contributed to downtown traffic congestion. Downtown Crawfordsville is part of the detour route for such vehicles.


Born to help others

December 19, 2014

When Lisa and James Bailey married in 2007 the couple planned to visit a Justice of the Peace to have a quick ceremony. However, her “extended family” would not hear of it. The residents of Ben Hur Health got busy and planned every detail of the wedding, including who would be in the wedding party. The couple bowed to the wishes of the residents and married in the very room in the nursing home where they first met. 

The residents must have had a hunch the marriage would work. Today, Bailey said her husband puts “the shine in her star.”

That love and caring attitude is what others notice and what has earned Bailey the title of a 2014 Journal Review Shining Star.

Bailey works as a qualified medicine administrator at Ben Hur Health and Rehabilitation. She began working there at the age of 14 as a candy stripper.

“The Ben Hur people really are my extended family,” Bailey said. “I love my patients and try to let them know I am there for them.”

Bailey was nominated for the award by her aunt, Karen Stewart, who also works at Ben Hur Health. In her letter, Stewart said Bailey’s attitude and heart makes her someone she looks up to.

“Lisa is a shining star in my eyes and in the eyes of many,” Stewart said. “Lisa is always smiling and the way she conducts herself in her profession says a lot about her. The residents all love her and it shows. Just by walking into the room, she puts love in the air.”

Bailey grew up in Crawfordsville, and except for two years when she was living in Colorado, has always lived in the community. She is the daughter of Keith and Bev Brock. She has four biological children and one step-child. It was the passing of another step-child on Dec. 15, 2008, that caused Lisa to stop smiling for a while.

“I lost my six-month-old baby in 2008 because he had a seizure in his crib,” Bailey said. “I still am getting through it one day at a time and it still hurts.”

A lifetime of helping others helped Bailey put her life together again after the loss. 

“At the time, I was attending Ivy Tech to get my medication certification,” she said. “I struggled, but endured and earned my certification. It helps me get through life knowing I can help people, not just the patients, but also the families of the patients.”

“Working in a nursing home means I am going to get to know people for a short time,” Lisa said. “The resident is either going to go home or go to a better place. I have helped many of my patients go through their final moments on Earth. I do not feel as bad for the patients as I do for their families. I try to be there for them too.”

Bailey said the shining star in her life has been her aunt, Jennifer Manion-Swazey.

“I grew up watching my Aunt Jennifer,” Bailey said. “She went to the Peace Corps and eventually got her nursing degree. She lived in the country of Brazil and would send me gifts from the country she was in. I always wanted to be just like her.”

Others in Lisa’s family must have been watching their aunt too. All four of the Brock sisters work in the healthcare field as either certified nurses assistants or medical assistant. 

“When I found out I won this award, I was speechless for the first time in my life,” Lisa said. “This award makes me feel loved by my family, including my extended family. I am just blessed that the Lord chose me to do what I do. I believe he has put me here for a good reason.”

Stewart said the love goes both ways.

“Lisa is greatly loved and is appreciated for everything she does,” Stewart said. “She is one of a kind and my shining star that will never fade.”


Mellish resigns at North

December 18, 2014

If you see teary-eyed people in the halls of Sugar Creek Elementary School, don’t be surprised. Their beloved principal of more than 22 years is moving on to his dream job. Friday will be his last day as principal.

On Monday, the North Montgomery School Board accepted the resignation of Tom Mellish as principal. Mellish has accepted a post with the Indiana Teacher Retirement Association as their new executive director. It is a position he has had his eye on for some time after volunteering with the organization for several years.


“Once I saw the executive director was resigning last summer, I put my name in the hat,” Mellish said. “This is a job I have always been interested in. With all the changes in education today, I felt it was time to do something different.”

North Montgomery Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Colleen Moran was not surprised to hear the announcement from Mellish.

“Mr. Mellish has shared with me a few years ago that if the executive director position with the Indiana Teacher Retirement Association opened, he would be very interested in working with that organization,” Moran said. “So this fall when he told me the position was available, I knew that we would see him move on to that level of administration.”

Last Wednesday, the 1996 National Distinguished Principal of the Year, got the call that he had been offered the new job. He is now ready to take on the duties of the executive director with the organization that is represented in each Indiana county and is an advocate for retired teachers.

“With this job I can stay involved in education but now I will be helping teachers,” Mellish said. “I will be leading the charge of protecting teacher retirement benefits and also work with legislators on behalf of retired teachers.”

Moran said losing Mellish is a loss for the school district, but also is happy for him.

“Tom has provided outstanding leadership for the students, parents and staff at Sugar Creek Elementary for 22 1/2 years,” Moran said. “We couldn’t be more happy for him. He will be greatly missed by the school and the North Montgomery community.”

Mellish’s office will be in Indianapolis. However, he does not expect to move from Montgomery County. His wife, Cynda, teaches for Crawfordsville Community Schools.

“With my wife working in Crawfordsville along with our church and friends here, we do not plan on moving,” Mellish said. “I will commute and continue to enjoy where we call home.”

Mellish admits the hallways at Sugar Creek have been emotional, as was the reception Moran had for him at Monday’s board meeting, which included family members in attendance.

“Dr. Moran had a reception for me and all of my fellow administrators said nice things about me,” Mellish said. “I always considered my years at North as just doing my job. But, when you hear how you have affected others, it was a little overwhelming.”

“This week has been bittersweet,” Mellish said. “Knowing the end is near and seeing my staff that I have hired nearly 95 percent of, and getting all the hugs from kids in the hallways, has been emotional for me.”

“I want to thank everyone for all the support for 22 and one-half years,” Mellish said. “This is a wonderful place to live and to raise a family.”

Mellish will start his new job Jan. 5, 2015.


Local officials inspect county jail

December 18, 2014

County government officials inspected the Montgomery County Jail on Tuesday and were satisfied with what they saw.

The Montgomery County Jail Bond Commission, represented by Russ Ruby and Roger Kunkle, conducted the mandatory annual inspection of the jail. Montgomery County Commissioner Terry Hockersmith and attorney Tyler Nichols joined the commission during the inspection. Jail commission member Marian Lindow was unable to attend.


“They felt like we are taking good care of their building,” Sheriff Mark Casteel said. “We expect this every year, and it’s good to have. It gives commissioners and other county officials an opportunity to see what’s going on at the jail.”

In addition to the inspection, Casteel informed officials about upcoming plans for the nine-year-old structure. Those plans include replacing variable frequency drives on pumps, carbon dioxide sensors, hot water supply valves and flooring. Casteel also wants to upgrade the jail’s outdoor lighting to feature LED lights. Renewing a heating and cooling contract with Abbott Controls is another task on the jail’s list.

The jail is preparing for its state inspection, which takes place in February. Jail Commander Lonnie Jones looks forward to the annual inspection.

“We do pretty well during those inspections,” Jones said. “We have a really good rapport with the state inspectors and welcome them here to suggest changes and educate us about new laws.”