LOCAL NEWS

County council receives reports

Montgomery County Council members approved the annual budget for the county’s Drug Free Fund which is administered by  he Youth Service Bureau of Montgomery Count at Tuesday’s meeting. Executive director Karen Branch told the council that the funds in the account come from drug user fees. State Code mandates how the money can be spent.

This year the budget is $63,140. Branch said this is the largest amount of funds available than what has been in the account for the past few years. She said the money will be split into four categories — administrative expenses, education and prevention,intervention and treatment and law enforcement and criminal justice.

Mini-grants to local organizations that battle drug abuse can apply for mini-grants administered by Drug Free Montgomery County. Branch said some of the organizations that received mini-grants in 2016 included Prescription Drug Task Force, Teen Court, Veterans Court and Drug Court. A total of 13 organizations received mini-grants in 2016. Grants must be approved by the Substance Abuse Services Division prior to money being granted

locally.

The council also approved the annual budget for the Montgomery County Jail Commissary Fund. Sheriff Mark Casteel uses the funds for a variety of purposes inside the jail. The funds are derived from commissary purchases by inmates.

County Commissioner president Jim Fulwider reported to the council that the project to improve electrical service to the area north of Sugar Creek along U.S 231 North is progressing. The project is being conducted by Crawfordsville Electric Light & Power. A new line will run from a substation near the county jail, cross Sugar Creek and go through several personal properties. Fulwider said the right-of-way work is going smoothly with property owners. The commissioner did say the project has been slowed this winter due to the ground not freezing. CEL&P crews have not been able to do all the work they had hoped due to the soft ground in the project area.

Economic development plan may change

What economic development will look like going forward in Montgomery County was discussed at great length at Tuesday’s Montgomery County Council Meeting. The council has had a copy of the proposal for a joint county and city economic development commission from Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton for 10 days. None of the council members spoke entirely against forming the commission, however the council is not satisfied with the proposal that the Mayor has on the table.

Council members have been editing and sharing emails with the changes they would like to see in the agreement as they work on something that all parties can agree on. 

“I am 99 percent confident that we are going to do this and move our county forward,” council member Mark Davidson said. “We do have some issues to get resolved. I think we are really close between what the mayor wants and what we want.”

Council members Davidson, Gary Booth and Terry Hockersmith seem most concerned with what powers the new commission will have once it is formed. As the present document is written, the new commission would have all the powers invested from them by following Indiana Code. However, the council members do not want to see the new commission spending funds on such things as land acquisition. They would like to see both the city council and county council approve major expenditures. 

County attorney Dan Taylor attended the meeting. He said afterwards that the inclusion of the specific Indiana Code mentioned in the agreement was a “menu” of items. He said all the council needs to do is cross out the line items they do not want.

Another issue discussed from the mayor’s proposal was the commissioner president would automatically be on the new commission. Davidson said he preferred the commissioners choose what two members will be on the new commission. He said having wording that mandated the commissioner president on the new commission is a “forced assignment” per the agreement as it now reads.

“I do not like the fact the president of the commissioners would automatically be on the new commission board,” Davidson said. “I suggest Mr. Fulwider recluse himself from discussion on this matter since he is a city employee.”

Fulwider said he was insulted by the suggestion he might have a conflict of interest since he has already served the county for 12 years while working for the Crawfordsville Fire Department. 

“I take that suggestion as an insult,” Fulwider said. “In 12 years of being involved in county government I have had a lot of issues between the city and county come up and I have always considered the county as my priority. I had over 60 percent of the voters elect me and put their trust in me.”

The council decided they needed more time to draft a proposal to send to Barton. So, they tabled any action on the Mayor’s agreement, and Hockersmith asked all council members to send their opinions of changes needed to council

attorney Rob Reimondo by Monday. At that time Reimondo will compile the changes and draft another document that the council could send back to Barton for his consideration. The county council members are hoping to get a document that all parties can agree on by their next meeting on April 11. 

Commissioner Fulwider reminded the council that commissioners must approve the document first followed by the council, however,

commissioners would make themselves available on April 11 to approve the agreement.

Circus Acts

Three hours before show time, George Pages looked out at the empty show ring.

Most of his colleagues were getting ready for the evening or taking a nap, just another afternoon for the workers who travel the country with Circus Pages.

“It’s my family’s show, so I’ve been in it since I was little,” Pages said.

The Sarasota, Florida-based circus rolled in to the Crawfordsville National Guard Armory Tuesday afternoon for one-night only performances, one of the stops on their swing through the Hoosier state.

Next to the show ring, workers had set up the concessions and toy stands. Outside, in a grassy area off the parking lot, camels munched on straw.

The show also featured lions, tigers, horses and ponies.

This is the 27th year for the circus, which was started by Pages’ grandparents. The family built off trapeze acts to feature international animal trainers, daredevils, aerialists, acrobats and clowns.

They spend the year touring mainly armories and fairgrounds. The crew is in Danville, Indiana, later this week.

Now 20, Pages has handled the motorcycle portion of the show. He also runs the lights and music.

He admits it’s easy to fall into the routine of setting up, performing and packing up for the next town.

“It’s a little repetitive sometimes,” he said.

Lunch & Learn event to focus on mental illness

WILLIAMSPORT — The Fountain/Warren Bi-County Council of Social Service Agencies is hosting a Lunch & Learn about mental illness from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 4 at the Warren County Learning Center.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness is the nation’s largest grassroots organization for people with mental illness and their families. Founded in 1979, NAMI has affiliates in every state and in more than 1,100 local communities across the United States. NAMI West Central Indiana (NAMI-WCI) serves Tippecanoe County and the seven surrounding counties: Benton, Carroll, Clinton, Fountain, Montgomery, Warren and White. The mission of NAMI-WCI advocates for support, effective treatment and education for individuals and families affected by mental illness in our community. NAMI-WCI continues to work actively to improve the lives of individuals diagnosed with serious mental illness and their family members, vigorously advocates for the implementation of evidence-based practices for mental illness treatment and works to establish a positive environment in which constructive attitudes towards those impacted by mental illness can flourish.

The training offered by NAMI-WCI will equip participants with the tools, resources, assets and information they need to promote mental health awareness in our service area. It will include a one-hour “In Our Own Voice” presentation given by two individuals living with mental illness, dispelling misconceptions, and helping to eliminate stigma.

Learn more about NAMI-WCI by attending this Lunch & Learn.  

Space is limited. Registration is required by March 28. There is a $10 registration fee which includes a boxed lunch and beverage.  

Contact Kathy Walker of Community Action Program Inc. of Western Indiana at 765-793-4881 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to register and/or for more information.

County ready to replace highway garage

Montgomery County Commissioners are considering their all of their options to replace the county highway garage that was lost in a November 2016 fire.

Commissioners are using this opportunity to evaluate how to better use the site at 818 N. Whitlock Ave., and at Monday’s meeting signed a contract with local architect Steve Akers. 

Akers will help officials decide how many buildings they should construct and where to optimize their use as well as decrease liability in case of future losses due to fire and other hazards.

“We want to be able to take a look at the whole grounds and see what is best for the highway department,” Commission president Jim Fulwider said. “We thought this was an opportunity to take a look at everything at the county highway and decide where to put the new building, or even how many building we should build.”

The contract was

approved in the amount of $7,900.

Ever since the county lost its entire fleet of tandem trucks and other equipment in the November fire, commissioners have been trying to decide how to best re-build.

Local insurance agent Tim McCormick of City Securities requested information so he could contact insurance companies for quotes for property and casualty insurance on county buildings. He told commissioners he is worried the county will face a large premium increase in property insurance do to the large claim caused by the fire at the county highway. Commissioners agreed to have county auditor Jennifer Andel release the information to McCormick.

Commissioners signed an agreement with the Indiana Family Social Services Administration that will authorize Montgomery County Sheriff Mark Casteel to sign up inmates for Medicaid. Casteel said without the agreement, some area hospitals will not low inmates to be admitted.