LOCAL NEWS

An ordinance appeared before the Crawfordsville City Council Ordinances and Petitions Committee on Monday that deals with snow and ice removal from private property. The ordinance will prohibit pushing snow or ice into city streets and alleys, or onto s

The Montgomery County Health Department released its first comprehensive report on the health of the community today. The Community Health Profile gives a snapshot on several health-related issues in the county and was a compilation of data from the recently offered community health survey.

“I am hoping the report becomes a conversation starter for people to get involved and actively thinking about what

 

community health means,” County Health Sanitarian Amber Reed said. “I think people reading this report will start to better understand that public health has an impact on everything we do.”

The community health survey was completed by 1,521 residents, representing 3,900 people. The previous survey conducted in 2012 had 1,244 responses. The increase in participation was good news to Reed.

“We had a good response, and I think it was largely due to the survey being available online,” Reed said. “What is more impressive is that, in 2012, we took four months for the survey, and this year, we did it in two months.”

Luke Wren, the county’s accreditation coordinator, has been working hard on the project. Wren said the survey is just one piece of a large process to have the health department nationally accredited along with

Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health.

The 2015 report is the most comprehensive report ever done in Montgomery County.

“In 2012, we just reported the numbers from the data we collected,” Wren said. “This year we are bringing in more national and state-wide data so people can compare how Montgomery County stacks up. We believe this report is going to give us a much better overall picture of health in the county.”

Reed said the report is

written for the average reader to understand. There are graphs and statistics that show the community’s health divided into specific health topics, such as diabetes and obesity.

Reed said her department will be able to identify problem areas and understand the community’s health priorities.

“This report is giving us a good perspective on what residents are dealing with and what they are thinking in terms of health,” Reed said.

Wren said part of his job is to give the data meaning.

“We are making the numbers mean something,” Wren said. “We are providing context to the data while covering a broader scope than we have in previous reports.”

Reed said after the community has had time to read the report, the next step will be to ask the community’s help in identifying three to five health priority areas that can be addressed

within the county.

A Community Health Improvement Plan will be derived, which will set up measurable goals to improve the priority areas.

The Community Health Profile can be found on the Health Department page at www.montgomeryco.net.

Snow removal practices could see changes

An ordinance appeared before the Crawfordsville City Council Ordinances and Petitions Committee on Monday that deals with snow and ice removal from private property. The ordinance will prohibit pushing snow or ice into city streets and alleys, or onto someone else’s property. City Street Superintendent Scott Hesler said snow and ice shoved into streets causes a nuisance to city snow plows and citizens.

“Contractors and individuals need to find somewhere else to push the snow,” Hesler said. “Worst case the business or individual will lose a parking spot. But, we need to keep the snow on the property that is being cleaned.”

 

The new ordinance will establish fines for anyone caught removing snow or ice which results in obstructing streets and alleys. The first violation will carry a $100 fine. The second violation will have a $250 fine and each additional

violation will be $500 for each occurrence.

Enforcement will be under the jurisdiction of any city police officer or the Code Enforcement Officer.

The committee passed a favorable recommendation to send the ordinance on to the Common Council for consideration. 

The committee also gave a favorable recommendation for the 2015 supplement to the Code of Ordinances. 

The Traffic, Parking and Safety Committee passed a request by Hearing Care Professionals for a handicap parking space on E. Pike Street near the intersection of S. Washington Street. The space will be for anyone with a handicap license plate or other proper identification.

“We got the request from Hearing Care Professionals and we were surprised the closest handicap parking space was two blocks away in either direction,” Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton said.

The Fiscal Affairs Committee gave favorable recommendations for four resolutions which included acknowledging receipt of the 2015 Waste Water budget, 2015 CEL&P budget, 2015 Storm Water budget and the 2015 Central Garage budget. All budgets will be forwarded to the Common Council for action.

Traditional Trees

Christmas tree lot with an empty shed behind it. There is no one to man the lot during the week, but the Boys and Girls Club continues to sell Christmas trees to preserve a 40-year tradition. 

“It’s a traditional thing,” said Club Director Craig Reeves. “For the longest time, we were one of the few places in town that sold Christmas trees. So we’ve had a good following. We’ll have grandmas and grandpas who have been coming here to get their tree for 40 years.”

Monday through Friday, the Christmas tree lot is run by the honor system. If anyone comes to buy a tree, the Boys and Girls Club hopes the cause is worthy of honesty.

“At one point in time,” Reeves said, “we used to sell 400 trees. We now only buy 180 because we just can’t compete with the big box stores. But it’s important for us, and we enjoy doing it.”

The Christmas trees come from a nursery in Hamlet, Indiana, which is near Valparaiso. They’re one of the few places in the state that grows Fraser Fir trees, which has increasingly become the most popular type of Christmas tree.

“Our trees are as good as you’re going to get,” Reeves said. “We always feel good about the product we get. Our trees are bought and brought in from the state of Indiana. And they’re fresh. They’re actually cut the day before we bring them in, which makes a big difference.”

A fresh start for female addicts

As a criminal defense lawyer who has worked a lot of cases involving children, Sarah Houston Dicks was tired of watching the people of her community fall victim to substance abuse.

“For years, I’ve known about the drug problem in this town,” she said. “Over the years, what used to be primarily a male problem quickly grew to equally a male and a female problem. Last year in Montgomery County alone, 125 families had Department of Child Services involvement ... And of those cases, I’d say 98 percent were because of drug use. It’s just gotten progressively worse.”

From 4-9 p.m. Thursday, the public is invited to an open house at Half Way Home -- the result of Dicks’ passion to change her community and the futures of female drug addicts.

Half Way Home is a substance abuse rehabilitation facility that houses female addicts while they complete a 180-day rehabilitation program.

“This is not housing,” Dicks said. “Though they live here, they’re buying a program. And the program is substance abuse treatment.”

Giving women a place to stay while they complete the program is important because it can be very difficult to get clean while still in the situations that got them addicted.

“It’s not working for them in their current environment,” Dicks said. “They can’t quit using. The women who come here will be women who, by simply going to Cummins or Rainbow Recovery, still can’t quit using.”

For the women they will house, some of whom will come from jail and others who face termination of parental rights, Dicks believes they need a total lifestyle change.”

“It’s our theory that substance is not the issue; it’s a symptom of the issues,” she said. “The other issues have to be addressed if they’re ever going to be able to stay off the drugs.”

For $125 a week, which includes room and board, the 180-day program will offer three to four classes every six weeks including: obtaining and retaining employment, handling finances, cooking healthy meals, developing healthy hobbies and parenting.

One of the reasons that women especially get stuck in a cycle of substance abuse is dependence, so Dicks said that will not be an option for any resident of Half Way Home.

“Everybody that comes here has to be able to work,” she said. “They don’t have to have a job when they come here, but they have to be employable. We believe employment is a very important part of this process.”

The program is designed to be challenging, but the physical building is designed to be a place for these women to feel comfortable and somewhat at home.

The facility is equipped with a living room, a dressing room, a sleeping dorm, bathrooms, a kitchen, a general purpose room, a utility room, a quiet room, and a backyard with an acre and a half of land.

Because Half Way Home is not a true residential facility, the women cannot stay after they complete the program. But they won’t have to do it alone.

“We will help them in every manner be ready to leave here at 180 days by having them a job, having them housing and a support system they can always come back to,” Dicks said. “The biggest difference between our program and other places is that we are going to have a 5-year follow-up. Once a woman graduates successfully from our program, we will continue to follow up with her for five years.”

Half Way Home is currently set to open Jan. 4.

National Guard families celebrate season

The holiday season is a time of giving, and thanks to the generosity of the Crawfordsville Elks, soldiers and their families of the Crawfordsville Indiana National Guard 139th Forward Support Company were able to have their annual Christmas party. 

More than 240 people attended the recent event, including Santa Claus. However, the annual party almost did not happen. 

As chairman of the local Guard Family Resource Group, Jennifer Rumbaoa was busy making plans for the

party when she received a phone call that forced her to changed the venue. 

“When I got the phone call that there was a possibility that we were not going to get to use the Armory, I panicked,” Rumbaoa. “The sad part was that we had to cancel our summer outing and I did not want to cancel this one.”

Rumbaoa got busy looking for another place for the party. As she inquired around Crawfordsville, many places were willing to help, but either they were already booked or their facility was not big enough. As she was going down the list of potential sites, she called the local Elks. They too had an event booked, however, they worked it out to make Saturday morning and early afternoon available. 

“It was a relief when the Elks said we could use their facility on such notice,” Rumbaoa said. “And, to top it off, they offered it to us free of charge.”

Elks Lodge Exalted Ruler Kay Birchfield said the decision to allow the soldiers and their families use their facility was a no-brainer.

“When we heard the National Guard needed a place to hold their family Christmas party, we knew we would just have to make it work,” Birchfield. “It worked out and we felt it was important to let them have our building for free. They were in a desperate situation so we feel privileged to help the Guard out, and in no way were we going to make them pay the rental fee.”

Soldiers and their families came from all over Indiana to attend the party, which started with formation at

8:30 a.m. and lasted until 2 p.m. There were children’s activities, adult games, a catered meal and of course, a visit from Santa with toys for all the children.

Lieutenant Brad Shrum said it was important for the unit to get together with families.

“It is great to be able to bring everyone together,” Shrum said. “It is good to get away from Army life and to socialize with the families outside of work.”

First Sergeant Curtis Pigg said seeing his troops and meeting the families was a good thing.

“It is good to see the families together and we can put faces with names,” Pigg said. 

Pigg, who has been in the National Guard for 22 years, said events like the party is good for the unit’s morale.

“It is all about keeping the soldier’s happy,” Pigg said. “If you can keep the soldier happy, you will keep the family happy.”

Even during the event, the Guardsmen found a way to give back to the Crawfordsville Community. As part of the event, there was a scholastic book fair so families could purchase books for their children. There also was a silent auction. All proceeds from the book sales is being donated to the Boys & Girls Club of Montgomery County.

With all the smiles from the children during the event and during the visit from Santa, the party was successful.

“We are pleased with everyone who helped us have this party,” Rumbaoa said. “We wanted to make sure we had something for the families. We just want to thank the good people of Crawfordsville, and especially the Elks, for helping us get together.”