LOCAL NEWS

Firefighters help their own at poker run

The mother of one of their own will be on the minds of members from the Crawfordsville Fire Department. 

Lisa Mullett, whose son is Shift Lieutenant CJ Mullett, is battling breast cancer and will be the recipient of proceeds from Saturday’s Joe Mitton Poker Run.

Lisa’s battle with cancer began about one year ago. She has gone through all the necessary steps to fight the cancer and recently was proclaimed cancer free. However, after treatments, surgery and a planned reconstructive surgery, expenses have piled up.

CJ is pleased his fellow firefighters chose his mother as the benefactor of the poker run. His co-workers included his mother in the plans unbeknownst to him.

“It is awesome that the department is doing this for my mother,” CJ said. “In the past we have always helped someone in the community, but to help one of our own makes it even more special. They planned it all without me knowing it by talking to Mom and everything. It is a good feeling.”

The poker run will begin at 10:30 a.m. with the registration at the Backstep Brewery, 125 N. Green St. The final destination is Eagles Aeries #1005 at 920 E. South Blvd., which is the site of a countdown and mixed stag. The route and rules will be provided at the pre-ride meeting.

Cost per rider is $20 and $5 for a passenger. The registration fee provides a meal before the countdown.

Riders at five locations along the poker run will draw chips with different values. The rider with the most

accumulated points will win a Henry Golden Boy .22 Rifle. The rider with the least points will get a free ticket to the countdown.

A chili meal and drinks, including beer, will be served 5-8 p.m. An individual meal ticket is $5.

The count down and stag begins at 8 p.m. This is the first time in three years the union has had the countdown after having it for many years.

The price to attend the countdown is $20 per ticket. Cash prizes will be drawn throughout the evening with the next to last number being awarded $1,000 and the last number paying out $2,000. Prizes will also be given to the first ticket pulled out and every 25th ticket.

Of the 400 tickets printed, CJ said there are approximately 50 tickets still available for purchase. Contact CJ at 765-401-1179 or any firefighter to obtain a ticket.

Proceeds from the events will help finance community activities such as Shop with a Firefighter, Kids Day at the Pool and more.

The Crawfordsville Professional Firefighters Local #4143 sponsors both fundraising events.

Taxes may fall in South district

Property owners in the South Montgomery Community School Corp. could see lower tax bills if rates drop as expected, as a forecast gives the district’s finances a clean bill of health.

What a difference five years makes. That’s when the district was digging in to reserves to bring cash balances out of the red.

“They’ve come a long way,” financial adviser Mike Reuter said after a fiscal update at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

“They were struggling back in 2012, and they’ve taken all the steps to correct that, and there’s nothing but good conditions ahead.”

Using figures from the state’s recently passed budget, Reuter forecast South’s funding levels through 2020, giving board members a detailed look at the district’s entire budget.

The tax rate will likely continue dropping over the next few years, despite an expected drop in assessed valuation, Reuter said.

The decrease could be as much as 7 percent by 2020.

While that means residents would pay less property taxes, Reuter cautioned property owners from planning for the extra money just yet. 

Exact figures won’t be known until work on the 2018 budget starts this fall.

“So right now, we’re forecasting a decrease in the property tax rate, but... it may be until six months now until we can really start to put some real numbers behind it,” he said after the presentation.

To offset the decreases in the future, Reuter said the district could raise property taxes through general obligation bonds or a referendum.

The positive financial forecast comes as Reuter projects another drop in enrollment, based on recent trends.

South’s enrollment has fallen nearly 4 1/2 percent since 2012-13, according to state data. Reuter estimates a loss of 30 additional students this fall.

With lower head counts and a change in the state’s funding formula, the district’s general fund cash balance is trending downward, Reuter said.

But he said the district’s main cash pool is “more than in balance,” and expects to end the year in the black.

Board president Brad Monts said past budget cuts helped lead to the district’s current financial shape.

In other business, the board:

• Awarded a $1,096,028 bid to Montreal, Canada-based Field Turf USA for the multi purpose turf project at the high school. 

• Approved hiring Jacob Turner as high school English teacher effective this fall, pending a background check.

The board’s next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 8 in the high school LGI room.

CPD completes specialized training

The Crawfordsville Police Department recently finished a week of in-service training at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy.

The department sends all of its officers to the ILEA for a day of intense training to hone their skills and experience to advanced training scenarios. The ILEA has some of the best training facilities in the Midwest and it is often used by several agencies from both within and outside of Indiana.

The CPD is often solicited by the ILEA to send certified training officers to assist in specialized training schools. The department saves a notable amount of money when it lends the academy its training officers and that manpower credit is applied towards the department’s use of the academy’s facilities.

At the Emergency Vehicle Operations Course, vehicle and driver limits are learned and tested. At the ILEA range, firearms scenarios and skills are polished and enhanced through the use of various range equipment.

The CPD has firearms training every month but the ILEA enables to officers to train with equipment not readily affordable to most law enforcement agencies.

ATVs given green light

Riders of off-road vehicles can now use county roads after Montgomery County Commissioners approved an amendment to an ordinance. 

However, to use county roads, ATV drivers must meet a list of five criteria.

Previously, the ordinance had specific reasons anyone could operate their ATV on county roads and they were basically all work-related. Now, with the amendment, more off road operators will be able to legally use county roadways.

The following is a list of the five criteria: 

• The operator of an off-road vehicle must be at least 18 years old.

• The operator cannot have a suspended driver’s license.

• The operator must be able to provide proof of insurance on his off-road vehicle.

• The operator must have his off-road vehicle registered with the county and display his plates.

• The operator and vehicle must meet all the requirements specified in Indiana law.

DNR Regional Commander Blaine Gillan told commissioners the amendment was similar to what other counties have approved. Montgomery County Sheriff Mark Casteel asked advice from other county police departments about changing the ordnance.

“I checked with several other counties that have recently changed their ordinances and they said they aren’t seeing any issues since they changed their ordinance,” Casteel said.

Commissioner John Frey discussed the change with several law enforcement agencies and had decided he approved of the age being limited to operators 18 years of age and older. He previously stated that anyone with a valid drivers license should be allowed to operate an ATV on county roads. 

“After talking to a lot of police officers and others, I have decided that requiring a driver to be 18 years old is best,” Frey said. “It appears younger drivers do have more accidents.”

Commissioners approved the amendment unanimously.

Commissioners open courthouse tower bid

After more than 20 years, county officials and the members of the Courthouse Clock Tower Committee now know how much it will take to restore the clock tower to the Montgomery County Courthouse. 

On Monday, commissioners opened one bid for the construction of the tower. The bid price was $540,000.

Clock Tower Committee member Sandra Lofland-Brown said receiving the bid will allow her to complete fundraising. She said she has some donors who have pledged their support, but wanted to wait until a final cost was received.

Donations pledged from the City of Crawfordsville and county officials currently total $308,000.

Ken Brown, a clock tower committee member, said the project, and a needed structural study, helped the county identify issues before the project started.

“The county learned that the courthouse has some structural issues even before placing the clock on the courthouse,” Brown said. “The structural problems have added to the cost of construction and should be addressed even if we were not adding the tower. The study gave the commissioners an idea on the true condition of the courthouse.”

Commissioners took the lone bid under advisement.

Anyone desiring to contribute to the project may do so at the county auditor’s office or contact Lofland-Brown by calling 765-918-6045 or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Commissioners also discussed rebuilding the county highway garage destroyed by fire in November. Commissioners are working with local architect Steve Akers.

County insurance agent Robb Williamson reported the county has received to date a total of $631,411 from its insurance company. He also reported there is an additional $101,000 available to complete replacement cost of the building.

Commissioner Phil Bane believes the county should build a larger storage shed but have a firewall to divide the building to be used for storage and also for a new garage to work on equipment. He also proposed taking the existing shop area and turning it into storage.

If commissioners do more than just construct a new building to replace the one they lost, Bane acknowledged the project could take two years to complete due to funding.

Commissioners agreed to go forward with Bane’s plan and to have Akers continue working towards that end.

In other business, commissioners:

• Hired James Wolf as the new county Weights and Measures Officer.

• Approved a request from Dave Peach to use the courthouse steps at noon May 4 for a National Day of Prayer ceremony.

• Approved the 2016 County Highway Annual Report as submitted by County Highway Director Jeremy Phillips.

• Approved an LPA Agreement for the Road Reconstruction and Slope Stabilization project located near the intersection of Country Club Road and S.R. 32 West.