Russellville turns grief into action

September 18, 2014

It is difficult to understand what would motivate a young person to take his or her own life, but it does happen. 

Eleven-year-old Dalton Thrush took his own life Aug. 17, leaving his family, friends and community stunned.

In the aftermath of the boy’s death, several people from the small town of Russellville gathered to share their grief. Talk soon turned to finding ways to honor Dalton, help his family and help others in a similar situation. During that community meeting, the group decided to coordinate an event to create awareness of suicide and its prevention. 

The Adolescent Awareness of Depression and Prevention of Suicide event will take place from noon to 11 p.m. Saturday at the Russellville Community Park. The day-long event will include music, games, children’s activities and access to information about mental health services. It is being spearheaded by Beth Kashman, a Thrush family neighbor, as well as Lisa Brock, Nicci Slater, Lori Horton and Misty Wiltermood.

Entertainment will be provided by the Dapper Dan Band, John Stevens Jr., Putnam County Star winner Cord Watkins and the Cockleburs. Neil Snyder, a local comedian, also will perform at the event. The event also features a corn hole tournament, free popcorn and a movie, a selfie-scavenger hunt and several raffles and drawings. Representatives from Bloomington Meadows Hospital, the Hamilton Center and Putnam County Hospital will be on hand to educate people about depression and suicide.

“We came together after Dalton’s death and we didn’t know what to do, but as we talked we knew we had to do something positive, and things just started to evolve,” Kashman said.

Proceeds from Saturday’s event will go toward helping the Thrush family finish paying for funeral expenses. Any remaining money will be distributed to programs that help prevent adolescent suicide.

According to statistics provided by The Parent Resource Program, suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-24. More teens and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza and chronic lung disease combined.

“What we’ve found in talking with people is that adolescent suicide is a reality,” Kashman said. “We started hearing story after story about it, and we realized the problem is much bigger than this little guy.”

At the time of his death, Dalton was attending Roachdale Elementary School. He enjoyed riding his four-wheeler, being with his family and playing football. He also enjoyed fishing and wrestling.

Kashman, whose family is involved in motocross racing, said Dalton was looking forward to racing motorbikes next year.

“We need to get the information and education out there to kids that even though they may hurting or going through something that is really bad, there is help. They need to know there are people they can turn to for help.”

City dedicates park to Dr. Steele

September 18, 2014

Kathy Steele often peeked through the window of her school administration office to watch children play at the Hose Elementary School playground. Now the retired Crawfordsville school superintendent can walk down the street from her home and see children enjoying a playground named after her.

The Crawfordsville Park and Recreation Department dedicated the Old Mill School playground in Steele’s honor Wednesday evening.

“I see kids here every day when I walk my dog, and even more have come since the improvements were made,” Steele said of the playground. “It’s wonderful for children to have an opportunity to play in this neighborhood.”

The park is only half a block from Steele’s house. In fact, Steele used to bring her son Matt to the park when he was younger.

The park dedication resulted from cooperation between the city of Crawfordsville and the Crawfordsville School Corporation, which donated the land. School officials wanted to see the former elementary school continue to serve children, and the parks department carried out that desire by improving playground equipment. More playground equipment will be installed in the future.

Steele announced her retirement in the midst of the park planning process, which prompted the city to honor her 43 years of educating the community.

“If you think about how many people have been educated under her watch, you can tell she has had a huge impact on the community,” Mayor Todd Barton said. “She is a leader and has always been focused on improving the lives of children. Having a park named after her only makes sense.”

Despite her retirement, Steele has not slowed down. She is currently writing grants for Athens Arts and the Montgomery County Community Foundation, in addition to watching over the youth at the playground.

“Once you are an educator, you are an educator for life,” Steele said. “It’s something that doesn’t stop, and I am glad about that.”

County, city to receive $79,000

September 18, 2014

The snow storms that took place Jan. 5-9 were stressful for the citizens of Crawfordsville and Montgomery County, but the storms also created havoc with many governmental and department budgets.

Local officials learned this week that more than $79,000 will be sent from Federal Emergency Management Agency in the form of reimbursements. Five entities have received a total of $79,033.77. This figure represents the eligible 75 percent of the total cost to clean up the aftermath of the storm which totaled $105,378.53.

Here is the breakdown of those entities and how much they will receive:

City of Crawfordsville/Street Department — $18,822.54

Crawfordsville Community Schools— $3,246.15

North Montgomery Comm. Schools — $4,950.09

Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department — $9,481.46

Montgomery County Highway Department —$42,533.46

Public Assistance will pay 75 percent of eligible expenses for damage to roads, bridges, utilities, debris removal, buildings’ contents and equipment, water control facilities, parks and recreational facilities and others, as well as emergency protective measures like traffic control and rescue operations. Snow Assistance will cover all eligible costs associated with snow removal for the 48-hour or 72-hour period with the highest costs.

The reimbursement was made possible by the collective efforts of elected officials, department heads and members of the Incident Management Team who all worked together to fill out all the necessary forms sent back to FEMA via the IMT’s Administrative/Finance Chief.

Statewide the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have been working with applicants in eligible counties to document and distribute the funds. To date, $1,130,340 has been processed for reimbursement to applicants in the eligible counties. More money will be distributed as applications are processed.

In all, 30 counties were granted federal public assistance and/or snow assistance.

In addition to Montgomery County, those counties granted assistance include: Allen, Blackford, Boone, Clay, Clinton, Fulton, Hamilton, Hendricks, Huntington, Jasper, Johnson, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Lake, Marion, Madison, Morgan, Newton, Noble, Owen, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, Tipton, Vanderburgh, Vigo, Wabash, White and Whitley.

Bidders sought for pergola update

September 17, 2104

The Marie Canine Plaza was constructed in 2002, funded by a grant from the Montgomery County Community Foundation. Crawfordsville Main Street has responsibility for maintaining the plaza, funded by a continuing grant from the Marie Canine Trust. The pergola needs extensive refurbishing to replace some of the trim boards that surround the structural elements of the trellis, and the entire structure needs repainted. 

A committee was formed to consider options for the repair, including possible updates to the structure. Three designs were prepared, and public comment was sought. The three design options, in brief, consisted of keeping the same open trellis structure. Another option included adding a roof to the corner section of the pergola where the two legs meet; and a third option consisted of adding the roofed section at the corner and two additional roofed sections the ends of the legs.

Public comment was overwhelmingly in favor of adding at least one roofed section, and the committee concurred.

The cost of the repair and upgrades will be paid for by private funds accumulated from the Marie Canine Trust annual allocation and an additional grant received from MCCF. Sufficient funds are available to proceed with Option One at this time. Bids are being sought for both options two and three.

Bidding documents, including architectural drawings and bidding instructions, are available at the Crawfordsville Street Department, 107 N. Vermont St., 364-5166. The documents are also available at http://

c-ville.org/public-documents. Follow the links to the instructions for bidders and two architectural drawings. 

Bids will be opened Sept. 30 and the work is to be completed by Nov. 14.

Crawfordsville Municipal Airport to celebrate 70th birthday

September 17, 2014

A Stinson Voyager aircraft descended onto the runway of Crawfordsville Municipal Airport on Nov. 6, 1944. It was the first aircraft to land at the airport, which opened that day.

Then-Crawfordsville Mayor Thomas Cooksey said after the airplane’s arrival, “Someday, looking back over the years, this will be considered a memorable event in the aviation history of Crawfordsville.”

That date has left its mark in Montgomery County history, as the airport will soon celebrate its 70th birthday.

“Crawfordsville Municipal Airport is one of the older airports in the state,” Airport Board Treasurer Myra Dunn Abbott said. “It was amazing in 1944 that people in Crawfordsville felt the need to develop an airport. If they could see the airport today, I’m sure they would be impressed.”

The airport has expanded from a rural airport to an airport that welcomes corporate jets to the community. Photographs of former and current terminal buildings speak of the airport’s evolution.

An old farmhouse served as a terminal building from April 1945 to 1993, before the Chet Hill Terminal Building was built in 1993. The Chet Hill Terminal Building welcomed pilots and passengers until 2009, when the Crawfordsville Municipal Airport Terminal Building took on the torch and flew the airport into modernization and expansion.

“The new terminal was the cornerstone of turning our little airport around,” Dunn Abbott said. “The airport is a great economic stimulus for Crawfordsville and Montgomery County. Current businesses in the community bring in other businesses to view the facility, and expansion will enable us to support new businesses.”

An economic study conducted by the Indiana Department of Transportation, Aviation Association of Indiana and Conexus Indiana in 2012 estimated Crawfordsville Municipal Airport has an annual economic impact of $80 million. The airport also supports 255 jobs and an annual payroll of $13 million. It ranked seventh overall in economic impact compared to the other 31 local Indiana airports.

With more improvements planned, the airport looks to better those economic impact statistics. It is in the final stages of planning a 1,000-foot expansion to its runway, which would enable it to welcome more commercial flights.

To reach those final stages, the airport added a weather observation system, security fencing, a concrete apron and more. It has already completed the preliminary engineering, wildlife hazard and environmental studies for the runway’s expansion.

With its 70th birthday approaching, the airport will welcome community members to a celebration from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 4 at the airport. The celebration will feature breakfast and lunch, airplane rides for children, exhibits and a live band. It is free to the public.

“A celebration like this gives us an opportunity to show the facility off to the public,” Airport Manager Bill Cramer said. “Many people don’t know this is here, but it has been impacting the community for almost 70 years. We look forward to showing what the airport has to offer.”