LOCAL NEWS

Three Wabash students earn Gilman Scholarships

Three Wabash College students have earned Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships to study abroad during the Fall 2016 semester. The awards will take this trio to Central America and Europe.

Immanuel Mitchell-Sodipe ’18, a philosophy major who will study in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Nicaragua; Dominick Rivers ’19, an art major who will study in Prague, Czech Republic; and Rodolfo Solis ’18, a political science and Spanish double major who will study in Valencia, Spain, each received the Gilman Scholarship, an award up to $5,000 to apply towards their study abroad or internship program costs. A fourth Wabash student, Jason VanMeter ’18, also was awarded a Gilman Scholarship this year, but declined in order to pursue other opportunities.

“I am certainly proud of the Wabash students who earned these highly competitive awards from the Gilman International Scholarship Program,” said Dr. Scott E. Feller, Dean of the College. “Their success reflects both their own achievements as young scholars and the quality of our Wabash College study abroad program.”

Run by the Institute of International Education, this nationally competitive award is given only to Pell Grant recipients, as the entire purpose of the program is to encourage participation in study abroad programs for students who are studying in under-represented areas of the world and/or under-represented languages.

The IIE seeks scholars who are first-generation college students, students of color, and/or students of limited financial means. Scholarship recipients have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of other cultures, countries, languages, and economies — making them better prepared to assume leadership roles within government and the private sector.

The congressionally funded program is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Established by the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000, the scholarship program honors Congressman Benjamin A. Gilman (R-NY), who chaired the House Foreign Relations Committee and retired in 2002 after serving 30 years in the House of Representatives.

Mitchell-Sodipe, Rivers, Solis and VanMeter join Daniel Thompson (2015) as Wabash’s Gilman Scholarship winners.

“To have had all of our applicants earn a scholarship is wonderful,” said Susan Albrecht, Graduate Fellowship Advisor at Wabash College. “Fewer than one in three Gilman applicants is selected, so for Wabash to have hit 100 percent this year is a tremendous testament to these young men and the work they put into their applications.”

Over the last three years, Wabash has produced seven Fulbright recipients, a Rhodes Scholar and five Gilman winners, another strong indicator of the high caliber of the student body.

‘This is my passion project’

Emily Rhoads’ passions have led her from the farms of New Ross to the studios of Los Angeles, with a lot of stops along the way. Now, she is asking her Indiana community for help with her next adventure.

Rhoads, a 32-year-old Southmont graduate, is currently representing Indiana in the 2016 Miss JetSet Magazine contest, a competition in which the winner will be placed on the cover of the magazine as well as win $100,000 in cash and prizes.

Though winning this competition would certainly help this actress’s own future, winning Miss JetSet would also create a new way for Rhoads to help pediatric patients across the country.

“This actually pulls together a lot of my interests,” Rhoads said. “I’ll get to promote what I do and what I stand for.”

The Miss JetSet Magazine contest is partnering and sharing proceeds from the competition with the B+ Foundation, an organization that helps children fighting cancer through family assistance, research and advocacy.

When Rhoads, who formerly worked in neuroscience oncology research at Eli Lilly, this gave meaning to the Miss JetSet competition. It was also the perfect platform for another project she’s working on.

“I am collaborating with a friend and production company to start an explorer series, which I would help co-host,” Rhoads explains in her contest bio, “where we will travel and share adventures and learnings with viewers, targeted first to children with serious and fatal diseases, including cancer, that they may be hospitalized from.”

When she was approached to help co-host the series, it was as if the role had been designed specifically for her.

Help children fighting diseases and families their families? Check. Use her love of the outdoors and adventure? Check.

Before she was an actress and before her years at Eli Lilly, Rhoads studied pre-veterinary medicine and wildlife biology at Purdue University.

“I grew up dreaming of being the female version of Steve Erwin or Jeff Corbin,” Rhoads laughed.

She spent time working at the Indianapolis Zoo and Disney’s Animal Kingdom in college and used her love of adventure to become a two-time American Ninja Warrior competitor.

Though her time in oncology research, Rhoads has seen the difficulties that families of sick children go through, so she can’t wait to use her passions and interests to put a smile on their faces.

“I love representing Indiana in the Miss JetSet competition,” Rhoads said, “but we’re going to work on this project no matter what.”

In order to continue in the competition, Rhoads has to make it into the Top 25 by Thursday. To do this, she’s asking her hometown to go online and vote for her.

People can either submit a free vote everyday or they can purchase votes, which will benefit the B+ Foundation. If she makes it into the Top 25, there are only a few more rounds of cuts Rhoads has to get through to be named the 2016 Miss JetSet and win a good amount of money to help her explorer video series endeavor.

“The money that I might win will go toward this project,” Rhoads said. “This is my passion project, and I love that people from my community can be a part of it.”

To vote for Rhoads in the 2016 Miss JetSet competition, visit her page at https://www.jetsetmag.com/model-search/vote/purchase/emily-rhoads.

CEL&P projects on hold until 2017

Crawfordsville Electric Light & Power is putting its capital improvement projects on hold for now.

The Utility Service Board learned Tuesday night that the utility is operating at nearly a $800,000 deficit for the year, CEL&P General Manager Phil Goode said.

Christina DeWitt of Umbaugh and Associates told the board that they have already taken steps to correct the situation. She said that the recently approved rate increase was badly needed.

“If you had not done that you would be in a real scary place right now,” DeWitt said.

Board member Lyle Fogel said that the board needs to remember that if the rate increase had been in effect since the beginning of the year they would be at a positive balance for the year.

“It shows with the rate increase we are going in the right direction,” he said. “We have a lot to make up.”

DeWitt told the board that even with the rate increase this year may end in a deficit. After the meeting, Goode was more optimistic.

“I am confident that maybe by December we can even that up,” Goode said. “The last thing you want to do is raise rate on the customers, but we needed the rate increase to stabilize things.”

The new rates take effect in August.

Goode said that the cost of power, as well as preparing for new environmental rules have contributed to the situation.

The purpose of the rate increase was to fund a number of capital improvement projects. Those projects are on hold for now, with the first projects not beginning until 2017, CEL&P Operations Superintendent Robert Stephens said.

“You will be able to do it,” DeWitt said. “You won’t be able to do it as fast.”

Utility board President Don Swearingen said they need to wait two-to-three months to see where they are financially as they “get their feet back on the ground.”

“To me, it is a blessing that it came in the middle of the year,” he said. “We need to take a deep breath.”

Swearingen said that they had a four-year plan, but maybe they need to make it a five-to-six year plan. He said that the board needs to prioritize the plans so that when funds are available they will be ready to move forward.

Commissioners pleased with insurance decision

Montgomery County Commissioners learned a money-saving decision they made last year is still paying off this year.

Tim McCormick, the county’s insurance agent, said a change in health insurance providers saved the county several thousand dollars in 2016. That savings will again be realized in 2017.

“Even though there is a minimal seven percent increase in premiums this year, when you look at what you paid in 2014,” McCormick said. “Also, there is no increase of premium in the dental and vision policies.”

McCormick also said the county’s portion of its partially self-funded policy is still in the black, which should help keep premiums lower next year.

Commissioners said the county employee open enrollment period to sign up for insurance or to make changes will take place in August.

Insurance premiums are one of the largest expenses on the commissioner’s budget each year.

Montgomery County Highway Director Rod Jenkins received permission to advertise for the purchase of two new tandem trucks, which are in the 2016 budget.

Jenkins also had commissioners sign a letter of commitment for the $1.1 million Community Crossing Matching Grant from the Indiana Department of Transportation. The highway director said the letter finalized the application process.

Two roadways are now open in the county. The new intersection at S.R. 47 South and C.R. 200W was opened for traffic traveling west. Also, C.R. 625W has opened after construction work was completed last week. Jenkins also said C.R. 275W at county bridge #127 will close Aug. 1. The bridge is being replaced. He also said he would call South Montgomery Schools to update them on the bridge closure.

Commissioners agreed to continue with the decision to contract with Evergreen Landscaping for evergreen trees as a buffer between the solar park and residents on the south side of the solar park. Scott Stockwell of Evergreen said his company would start planting trees the second week of September. The gardener said September is a good time to plant trees in Indiana instead of now.

“July and August are just not good months to plant trees,” Stockwell said. “Waiting until September is a better cost for the county and it is what’s good for the trees.”

Matt Oates of Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health Crawfordsville received permission for a lane restriction for the hospital’s 5K race on Sept. 17. This year the course will run north on C.R. 100W to C.R. 300N. Oates said the hospital will contact residents who live along the course to let them know about the lane restriction.

Proposed raises could change

City employees may see a raise next year that is higher than previously expected.

The Crawfordsville City Council continued budget talks Monday night at their second of two budget work sessions. Last week Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton told the council that he is seeking to give police and fire officers a 3 percent raise and all other full time city employees would receive a 1 percent raise. 

Monday night the council asked about giving more.

Councilman Dan Guard asked Clerk-Treasurer Terri Gadd for additional numbers. He wants to see what the budget would look like if all employees — including police and fire — received a 1 percent raise, 2 percent raise and 3 percent raise. The council already has the currently proposed raises. Guard said he wanted to see the numbers to be able to compare the impact to the budget.

Gadd said that she will have numbers on Monday when the council meets for their committee meetings.

Barton told the council at the beginning of the meeting that he would entertain giving a bigger raise than the 1 and 3 percent, but wanted the council to get through all the budgets first.

“One percent is where I was comfortable,” Barton said after the work session. “We will play with the numbers and they can make that decision.”

Barton said that another thing they need to look at is revenue that will be coming in. He said that if the assessed value of a property comes in less than they are anticipating it can cause budget headaches.

“It’s a great big puzzle,” he said. “I have to give Terri (Gadd) credit. In the last few years we nailed it within a few dollars. We you are working with millions of dollars that’s amazing. It’s a constant back and forth of looking at these numbers.”

The mayor added that the city has “healthy reserves.”

The council discussed budgets for the mayor, clerk-treasurer, council, street and fire departments. Members of the fire department were on hand as the council discussed their budget and potential raises.

Councilman Les Hearson reiterated what he said last week that a 3 percent raise was reasonable, adding that he appreciates all they do. He said that he is “100 percent in favor of doing what we can” to help them retain firefighters.

Last week Barton said that the police and fire departments lost 19 officers in the last four years. That figure does not include any retirements.