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The Times Takes A Holiday Break

This will be the final issue of 2020 for the Crothersville Times as we take our traditional holiday vacation. Look for your first issue of the Times on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021.
From Curt the editor, Becky the occasional columnist, Willow the Cat and Emma the Great Pyrenees who are in charge of Wilderness critter control…thanks for reading and Happy Holidays!

Indiana Supreme Court Suspends Jury Trials Until March Due To COVID

Jackson & Scott County Prosecutors Say It Will be Business As Usual For Them

Last week the Indiana Supreme Court handed down an Order Suspending Jury Trials statewide until March 1, 2021, citing the need for drastic measures as COVID-19 continues to surge. The state’s highest court beleives in-person jury trials pose an exceptional risk to everyone involved—even if every precaution is taken.
“We have hope that 2021 will bring improved conditions. But hoping is not enough. There is more we must do, and we must act now,” Chief Justice Loretta Rush said about the Court’s latest action to address the pandemic. “Since March, we have been balancing the requirement to keep courts open with the need for public health. The worsening pandemic creates urgency for us to halt jury trials as we maintain all other court operations, including through remote proceedings.”
The Supreme Court has given local courts authority to adjust operations since the beginning of the public health emergency, most recently in a November 10 order. This authority has included holding remote proceedings and streaming public hearings online.
In addition, a Resuming Operations Task Force released guidance on managing court proceedings as conditions change, guidance on safely resuming court operations, and protocols for mitigating in-court exposures.
Despite all the measures that have been taken, more than 6,000 Hoosiers have died from the virus, and Indiana has the fourth highest daily cases per 100,000 residents in the nation. By limiting non-essential in-court proceedings, Indiana courts can avoid intensifying the pandemic’s impact on our communities.
According to Scott County Prosecutor Chris Owens, his office will use other means allowable to see that criminals are held accountable during the jury trial suspension.
“Our office will still fight to resolve cases by agreement and we will continue to use other ways to see that people charged with crimes in our county are held responsible for their actions,” Owens said. “I have met with my staff and stressed the importance of continuing to keep cases moving toward resolution so that a backlog does not occur. During this time, we will put extra effort into the types of hearings that are still allowed, like probation violations or offenders who violate conditions of their bond.”
“We’ll not be slowing down during this time and criminals in our community should be put on notice that we will still pursue you and see to it that justice is being served,” he added.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jeff Chalfant said the suspension of jury trials is “necessary for everyone’s safety and health” and it shouldn’t be much of an inconvenience for the prosecutor’s office.
“When March rolls around hopefully people can come in and have a trial if they want to,” he said.
Chalfant said there were no jury trials from March until August because of Indiana’s stay-at-home order that lasted from late March through early May, and because there has not been a lot of jury trials in Jackson County this year.
Between August and November, six felony jury trials were conducted.

Christmas ‘Star’ Celestial Event Visible This Week

When Jupiter and Saturn appear close together in the night sky this week, their combined light might be what the Bible’s nativity story in the Gospel of Matthew called the Star of Bethlehem, according to faculty and staff at Ball State University.
“People have long wondered if the Star of Bethlehem could be explained by natural celestial events. Some astronomers believe the ‘star’ may have been a series of celestial events,” said Dayna Thompson, director of the Charles W. Brown Planetarium at Ball State.
In coming days, Jupiter and Saturn will appear closer in the sky then they have in 400 years. This event has been labeled “The Great Conjunction,” Thompson said.
Such events have been recorded for thousands of years, she noted.
“For ancient people, the word ‘star’ didn’t have the same meaning that it does for us today,” she said. “Sometimes comets were referred to as stars. Also, ‘star’ didn’t have to refer to a single celestial object or event.”
Jupiter and Saturn appeared close together in the sky in the years 7, 6, and 5 BC in a constellation astrologically significant to the Jewish people. This was followed by the appearance of an exploding star in the pre-dawn sky of 5 BC. These events are all candidates for natural occurrences of the Star of Bethlehem, Thompson said.
“This is one reason why people are referring to the current close grouping of Jupiter and Saturn starting on December 21 as a ‘Christmas Star’ event,” she said. “The other reason, of course being the date of the event, as it’s so close to Christmas. December 21 also happens to be the date of the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year.”
An astronomical conjunction occurs when any two heavenly bodies appear to pass or meet each other as seen from Earth. To make one “great,” though, requires an encounter between our solar system’s two largest planets. The orbits of Jupiter and Saturn align to allow the giant worlds to seemingly convene roughly every 20 years.
While called a Great Conjunction, of course, the planets are never actually close at all; during this week’s encounter, they will still be separated by more than 453 million miles.
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For the last great conjunction, on May 28, 2000, the apparent distance between Jupiter and Saturn in the sky was 68.9 arc minutes, or more than twice the diameter of the full moon. The 2020’s great conjunction coincides with the December solsticeand appear roughly the thickness of a dime held at arm’s length.
The last time Jupiter and Saturn appeared so close was July 16, 1623, when Galileo was still alive, a little more than a decade after he first used a telescope to discover Jupiter’s four largest moons that now collectively bear his name. The odds are low, however, that Galileo or anyone else on Earth managed to witness that great conjunction, which was virtually impossible to see because of its apparent position near the sun.
The prior great conjunction to appear as close and as visible as the current one occurred on March 4, 1226. “For perspective, Genghis Khan was still roaming Asia then,” says astronomer Patrick Hartigan at Rice University in Houston.
To view the current Great Conjunction, find a spot where you can watch the sunset with a clear horizon in front of you, free of trees or buildings. In the hour or so after nightfall, first Jupiter will appear in the western sky, and then Saturn, both shining dots distinguishable from the stars by the fact they do not twinkle.
Although the great conjunction arrived on Monday, Dec. 21, “while fading, Jupiter and Saturn will still be visble through Christmas. By watching, you can get a sense how celestial mechanics works in the nighttime sky.
The BSU planetarium’s “Christmas Star” program explores potential natural explanations for the Star of Bethlehem and common modern-day misconceptions about the event, researched and written by Dr. Ron Kaitchuck, the previous director of the Brown Planetarium and professor emeritus.
While the planetarium is closed this holiday season due to COVID-19, its “Christmas Star” planetarium program is on YouTube 360 at https://youtu.be/Wq_1CwKbkaY

Traffic Stops Result In Drug Arrests

On Friday, Dec. 11, Scott County Sheriff’s Deputies Johnney Coomer and Skylar Thompson responded to a traffic accident in rural Scott County where one vehicle had left the scene. As officers were conducting the investigation at the accident scene they alerted other law enforcement agencies of the description of suspect vehicle description. In a short period of time the Scottsburg City Police Department made a traffic stop on a vehicle matching the description of the vehicle that left the scene
Deputy Coomer and Scottsburg City Police efforts led to the arrest of Amy Stacy, 35, of Deputy, for driving while intoxicated, driving while intoxicated endangering another, possession of a controlled substance, reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, driving while suspended with a prior conviction and possession of paraphernalia.
On Sunday, Dec, 13, Deputy John Hartman stopped a vehicle in rural Scott County. His investigation led to the arrest of two people on drug related charges.
Peggy Collins, 47, of Crothersville, was arrested for possession of methamphetamine, possession of a controlled substance, possession of a legend drug, maintaining a common nuisance and possession of paraphernalia.
Corey Smith, 27, of Underwood, was arrested for possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia and visiting a common nuisance.
That same day Deputy John Hartman served an outstanding arrest warrant on Katherine McCarter, 37, of Scottsburg charging her with possession of methamphetamine, possession of paraphernalia, driving without a license, and compulsory school attendance violation.
On Monday, Dec. 14, Deputy Johnney Coomer served an arrest warrant at the Scott County Jail on a woman incarcerated on a previous charge. Felicia King, 44, of North Vernon, now faces additional charges of possession of methamphetamine.
On Tuesday, Dec, 15, Deputies Chris Bowling and Charlie Morgan and officers with the Austin Police Department responded to a disturbance call in rural Scott County. Their investigation led to the arrest of Christopher Caudill, 36, of Austin for possession of a legend drug, possession of marijuana and possession of a controlled substance.
All were incarcerated in Scott County Jail.

Our Covid Christmas Carol

by Curt Kovener

Life in December 2020 may feel as if we’re in a production of “A Christmas Carol.”
For Ebenezer Scrooge, the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future forced him to do some soul searching. For folks today, this tumultuous pandemic year has led to such introspection, too.
The message in Charles Dickens’ masterpiece still draws people 177 years after he wrote it. Most fans of “A Christmas Carol” already know its plot. Yet, they want to see it unfold.
Perhaps the new Christmas Classic is the film “The Man Who Invented Christmas” the story of how Dickens came to write ‘A Christmas Carol’ which changed our views of the holiday more than any churches possible could. And perhaps even changed church teachings and practice about kindness for those less fortunate and peace on earth, goodwill towards mankind.
Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol” as a commentary on the plight of the working poor in 19th-century England. As a boy, Dickens’ father fell into debt and was placed into a debtors prison in London. At age 12, that author to-be was forced to work in a blacking factory. Years later, he turned that hardship into a lesson for the society around him.
The concept of child labor sounds ancient today. The concept and practice of social injustice isn’t outdated, unfortunately.
The Dickens’ classic features literature’s most famous two-word phrase — “bah, humbug.” Scrooge uses it to swat away concerns for the working poor and indigent children, and the joys of the Christmas season. Bitter over his own life’s losses, old Ebenezer refuses to share his wealth to aid those he deems less hard-working, undeserving or inferior. Then, the ghosts interrupt Scrooge’s sleep on Christmas Eve, reminding him of what he’s done, its impact on others, and the consequences he’ll face.
Perhaps today we use “bah, humbug”as our response to the distancing from family and friends that Covid wrought.
Why do we so enjoy a story now nearly 180 years after it was written? We want to see the reformation of this guy who’s been lost. Because if he can, then maybe there is hope for us.
We all embrace our Ghost of Christmas Past: the warm memories of growing up during the holiday with family and friends.
The Ghost of Christmas Future gives Scrooge a visionary tour of his employee Bob Cratchit and family observing Christmas without their frail son Tiny Tim, Scrooge’s funeral attended by only two fellow businessmen hoping for some of Ebenezer’s money, and finally his tombstone.
“But Spirit, tell me, is there hope? Is there a chance for redemption?” Scrooge pleads. “I’m not the man I was. I’ve changed.”
And as we know, Scrooge does indeed change. Generosity replaces his miserly greed. Care for the poor replaces his selfishness. The well-being of employee Bob Cratchit and his family matters now. Scrooge no longer shuts himself off from his own family.
But those reversals only come after Scrooge looks inward. It’s easier to watch Scrooge endure that accountability check than doing so on ourselves. How many of us would like those ghosts to come into our life and show us of our foibles?
The year 2020 has placed lots of us in Scrooge’s position, perhaps for different reasons. Its impositions have peeled away the layers of our routines, down to the core essentials.
Maybe we’re appreciating parts of our lifestyles that have been temporarily halted because of the spreading COVID-19. Or, we’re realizing some things held too high a priority in our lives. Or, we’re seeing loved ones and friends as more precious than before, especially those kept distant by our isolation. Some may rethink their treatment of others with different viewpoints on the election, or those demonstrating over social injustices, or folks whose health put at risk by not masking up.
Even in this surging pandemic, we can experience Dickens’ story. Dozens of film versions exist, dating from the 1930s to the present. Anyone can find a version of “A Christmas Carol” that will connect with them.
And even in 2020, no matter our past or present, we can be reminded that we all can be redeemed. And for that Tiny Tim proclaims “God bless us, everyone.”