‘No Good Choice’ For Crothersville CSO Compliance

About 20 years ago, Crothersville was among the 109 Indiana communities placed under a CSO (Combined Sewer Overflow) order by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM).
The town’s original storm sewer and sanitary sewer flowed in the same pipes. Over the years, additional surface water has flowed into the sewer system from broken joints and damaged pipes.
The result was, during periods of heavy rain, more water would flow to the wastewater treatment plant than could be treated causing untreated sewage to flow into Hominy Ditch and eventually into the Muscatatuck River.
The town of Crothersville came up with a compliance plan to remove storm water from the sewer system, fixing leaking lines, and to treat the remaining wastewater. And they have been making progress on complying on a pay-as-you-go basis.
But now IDEM is turning down the screws on communities for more rapid and complete action.
Town Council president Danieta Foster, vice president Chad Wilson, FPBH engineer Dan Wright and town grant writer Trena Carter met recently with IDEM officials.
“The town has been making steps toward the compliance plan,” said Carter pointing to the coming Seymour Road/Cindy Lane lift station upgrade.
But IDEM wants faster action. “And the town’s lack of money isn’t reason for any delay, according to IDEM,” said Wright.
As a result, the town will be making application to at least three grant and forgivable loan programs to help pay for the expected $4.6 million wastewater upgrade.
A federal USDA Rural Development loan application deadline is June 15.
Also being sought is a State Revolving Fund loan. The cap on a 20-year SRF loan at 2% interest is $2.9 million, Carter said.
There may also be Community Development Block Grant Funding for the project, she said.
If the town is approved for funding, Wright said repayment on the loans through the sewer debt service would increase monthly sewer rates from the current $43.42 per 4,000 gallons of water consumed to $65.
“If we are not successful at getting any loans or grants, we could be looking at rates going up to $85-$95 per month,” said Carter.
“Not having the money is not an excuse to IDEM,” Wright said. “If the town does nothing, it could mean a sewer ban preventing adding any additional new homes to the system, no expansion to the industries in Crothersville, and fines from IDEM of up to $2,500 per day for non-compliance.”
“We have no good choice,” said Foster.
With its approximately 750 sewer customers, Crothersville is the smallest town on the CSO list. “Larger communities who have complied have lower rate increases because they have more utility customers to share in the cost,” said Wright.
The town council gave their approval for engineering work and grant/loan applications to be submitted. If the funding is approved, loan closing could be sometime in March 2020, Carter said.

Austin Elementary Construction Plans Move Forward

Lancer+Beebe Preliminary Design For New Austin Elementary

The Indianapolis based architectural firm of Lancer+Beebe was hired as the design firm for a proposed $20 million elementary school renovation when the Scott County School District 1 board met on May 20. The board unanimously approved the hiring following a second public hearing on the proposed project
The preliminary plans by the architect call for updating the 1936 brick gym & elementary classrooms, razing the 1950 era classrooms and building a new elementary school that connects the classrooms with the historic school building and AHS gymnasium. Additionally, the school board wants to remove the indoor swimming pool at Austin High School, which was constructed in the early 1980’s, and replace it with a multi-purpose area.
During the public hearing, Mike Therber of the Indianapolis based financial consulting firm Therber Brock, said that there are two methods of financing a school construction project.
The state Common School Loan fund is available at 4% interest with a 25-year repayment schedule, Therber said, adding that the Common School Loan rate is not changed in a considerable length of time and is not expected to any time soon.
“The maximum loan per year is $15 million so if we decide to go that route the financing would need to be in two phases to pay for a $20 million project,” he said, noting that CSL funding is approved on a first come-first served basis
Therber said the alternative method of financing is through a bond issue. “Currently, bonds are being purchased at 3.5% but those rates fluctuate more than the Common School Loan,” he said.
There are additional costs for advertising and selling school bonds, he said.
“Which method to use could be a ‘game time decision’ as the project moves forward,” he advised the board.
Therber told the crowd that the project will result in a debt service (the fund from which school mortgages and loans are paid) tax rate increase.
The current school debt tax rate is just under 80-cents per $100 of assessed valuation. Therber said that the tax rate could go to $1.13 for a few years.
He said that for a home with an assessed valuation of $75,000 the tax bill could increase about $220 per year for a couple of years. He added that the owner of one acre of farm ground could expect to pay $18 more.
“But with the middle school construction loan being paid off in a few years we anticipate tax neutrality (dropping back to around the current 80 cents rate) after that,” the financial advisor estimated.
The school board voted unanimously to pass a resolution to move the project forward.
With the passage of that resolution, attorney Dennis Otten with the law firm Bose McKinney & Evans of Indianapolis said that the school board has a 30 day period to circulate a petition to gain signatures of school district property owners to place the question of whether or not to build the new school on the Nov. 7 ballot.
In that referendum vote in November voters will be able to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the proposed building project. The vote will be held in conjunction with the Austin municipal election. Registered voters outside the city limits will be able to vote just on the school construction project question.
In other business, the board approved a number of personnel retirements and resignations.
Retiring Teachers included Middle School teacher Ben Watts and Elementary School Teacher, Wanda Dailey.
Steve Alexander retired as custodian
Resignations were accepted from elementary teacher Cheryl Smith and media specialist Keri Hammons.

Calls About Suspicious Activity Leads To Arrests

Scott County Deputy Joe Baker responded to a suspicious vehicle call on Terry Road on May 18. Questioning the occupants of the vehicle led to the arrest of three people on drug related charges.
Christopher Gay, 34, of Austin was arrested for public intoxication and possession of a syringe.
Lora Johnson, 44 of Scottsburg was arrested for possession controlled substance.
Kaylie Mullins, 20, of Austin was arrested for possession of a syringe.
Baker was assisted at the scene by Lt. Shawn Mayer of the Scott County Sheriff’s Office.
On Sunday afternoon, May 19, Lt. Mayer responded to Machine Lane in reference to trespassing. His investigation led to the arrest of Michael O’Neal, 47, of Nabb for criminal mischief, criminal trespassing, residential entry, intimidation and battery.
All four were incarcerated in Scott County Jail.

24 Seniors To Graduate From CHS Friday

Samantha Rose & William Amick Academically Lead Class of 2019

The 123rd Crothersville High School Commencement Ceremony will take place this Friday at 8 p.m.
Twenty-four seniors will enter the CHS gymnasium for the final time to the traditional strains of ‘Pomp & Circumstance’.
Logan Brewer will open the commencement with prayer following by opening words from class secretary Piper Hensley.
CHS Principal Adam Robinson will welcome those in attendance.
After the Salutatorian address by William Amick, Lane Wienhorst will give the class history followed by a school experience ‘Walk Down Memory Lane’ Powerpoint presentation.
Samantha Rose will give the valedictorian address.
Robinson will introduce the graduates and Crothersville School Superintendent Dr. Terry Goodin will present diplomas.
CHS Class of 2019 president Cassandra Defibaugh will lead her class in the transfer of tassels.
Class treasurer Grace Monroe will offer closing words and the class will exit the gym to the tune “Best Day of My Life.”
The class colors are red and silver and the class flower is the Gerbera Daisy.
The class motto is “Miles may separate us, but memories will always bind us.”
Seniors scheduled to take part in graduation include:
William Lester Amick, Piper Joe Asher (Culinary Arts), Fayth Ann Bowman (3D Animiation), Logan Levi Brewer, Tayler Siara Brewer (Nursing).
Also Amber Jacklyn Casullo (Veterinary), Ethan Xavier Deaton (Law Enforcement), Cassandra Ann Defibaugh (Nursing), Christopher Lee Gregg (Welding), Piper Mechele Hensley.
Also Kiana Rene Jackson (Veterinary), Jacob Barron James (Welding), Chelsie Ann Keith (Veterinary), Kaitlin Brianna McVey (Nursing), Grace Elizabeth Monroe.
Also Devon Wayne Pedigo, Andrew Mitchell Prince (Welding), Brandon James Riley, Madeline Suzanne Riley, Samantha Erin Rose.
Also Beth Ann Southerland, Joseph Allen Tatlock (Criminal Justice), Lane Ramsey Wienhorst, Karmyn Renee Williams.
Bold Face: CHS diploma and Associates Degree in General Studies from IVY Tech.
Italics: CHS diploma and Career Technical Education Certification in a selected course of study.

Alert Parent Detains Man Who Solicited Teen Online

A man who came to Scott County expecting to meet a 13-year-old was arrested for child solicitation last Wednesday.
The need for parents to supervise their children’s social media was reinforced last week in Scott County, Sheriff Jerry Goodin said.
“A concerned parent was checking his child’s Facebook account when he saw something that alerted him,” said Goodin. The parent noticed an adult making contact with his 13-year-old child.
The parent pretended to be the child and arranged for the 29-year-old man to come to the family’s home in rural Scott County to meet who he thought was a thirteen year old.
“When the man arrived, he was greeted by the child’s father who held him until deputies arrived,” said Goodin.
Arrested was Brandon Ruff, 29, of Jeffersonville charged with false informing, child solicitation with a child under 14 years old using a computer and traveling to the child.
Goodin said that when officers arrested Ruff, they investigated further and found out he had made friends with the child and had allegedly made arrangements to meet the young teen on prior occasions.
Investigators are looking into the possibility of other victims.
Parents are encouraged to check their children’s Facebook pages, especially the Facebook Messenger, to see if their child has had contact with Brandon Ruff, the sheriff said. “Ruff also had a fake Facebook Page listed as Sammy Castro. It is thought Brandon Ruff could be posing as a wrestler to gain the confidence of the children,” said Goodin.
If you feel as though your child could be a victim and you live inside of Scott County, contact the Scott County Sheriff’s Office at 812-752-8400 or 812-752-5550, said Goodin. Outside of Scott County contact the Indiana State Police Post at Sellersburg and request to speak to investigations.
The Indiana State Police, Scott County Prosecutor’s Office and Jeffersonville City Police are assisting the Scott County Sheriff’s Office with the local investigation.

Grant Makes Countryside More Park-Like; Attractive To Birds, Bees & Butterflies

For years the town of Crothersville has used the Countryside Park on the town’s west side to play softball and little league baseball. In the last few years the community has added hiking trails, a high school cross country course, a play area and a giant swing in a big old oak tree.
Thanks to a $5,000 grant to the town from the Community Foundation of Jackson County, trails will be marked and a 500 sq foot pollinator garden to attract bees, birds and butterflies has been constructed.
Liz Brownlee, executive director of the Oak Heritage Conservancy, headed up the project which included classes on the importance of pollinators with the Crothersville Jr.-Sr. High School Science Clubs.
Middle School club members Brayden Crater, Dirk Crater and Blake Robinson joined forces to design the perennial garden which includes a walking path so park visitors can get an up close look at the Indiana native plants and the pollinators it will attract.
“Only perennial plants that ware native to Indiana were used in the project,” said Brownlee. “American Columbine, milk weed, Downy Sunflower, Big Blue Stem (a prairie grass) yellow and purple coneflower (Echinacea) will provide blooms from May through October.”
Twelve science club members and 20 adult and youth volunteers planted about 200 native plants and 75 annuals in about two hours on Thursday afternoon.
To view the pollinator garden take Main Street west to County Road 1000 E, turn north and turn into the northernmost park entrance to park. The pollinator garden is near the tree line for the wooded hiking trails.