City employees may get raise

City employees could get another raise next year, but will pay more for health insurance.

A 2 percent pay increase for full-time employees is included in the proposed 2018 budget, which goes to the city council for approval later this summer. Health insurance costs are increasing 10 percent.

The council moved in to budget season Monday with department heads outlining their spending plans for next year.

It’s the fifth time in six years raises would be granted to employees. The boost in salaries is made possible by reliable city revenue projections, said Mayor Todd Barton.

Raises are also key, the city says, for attracting and keeping employees.

“We’re continuing to fight the ongoing battle with retention in our police and fire departments,” Barton said, adding that salaries are part of the challenge.

The increase in health insurance comes as the city signs a new contract with provider Cigna.

“But that’s our first increase in quite a while, so we’re doing very well on the health insurance side,” Barton said.

Barton has met with each department head, balancing their wish lists with the amount the departments spent this year. Council members heard proposals from planning and community development, city legal, parks and recreation, police, the airport and redevelopment commission.

Planning and community development director Brandy Allen is asking for money to update the city’s zoning code, which have not been revised since 2009. The revisions are being spread across two budget years.

Allen said the updates would clear up loopholes and other discrepancies in the code.

Police chief Mike Norman is requesting $8,000 for K9 services and maintenance, which had relied on community donations. The donation fund was depleted with the addition of a second dog, Norman said.

The department also seeks funds for more training and equipment for SWAT negotiators and new radars and equipment for patrol vehicles.

The rest of the department heads will present their budgets at 6 p.m. Monday in the Municipal Building.

Eighth annual MCMC conference set for July 28-29

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21

The Montgomery County Men for Christ will celebrate its eighth conference July 28-29. The Friday event, hosted by First United Methodist Church, 212 E. Wabash Ave., is free and will run 7-9 p.m. All are invited and child care is provided.

The Saturday session, which is free as well, is an outdoor, men’s only event from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the grounds of Kevin and Jill Parker, 867 Walnut Hills. Men of all ages are encouraged to bring their Bibles and lawn chairs. Darilicious will provide a free lunch.

The conference this year focuses on the question, “So Now What?” This question arises particularly in light of the recent billboard and statistics indicating that Montgomery County is ranked 9 of 92 most at risk population for opioid abuse.

Conference leaders agree with the hash‐tag on the billboard that “This Ranking Matters” but also understands the drug use in our county is an evident symptom of one’s need for Christ in their life versus a needle. As leaders in a county that is a leader in heroin use, we get to be on the front line regarding the symptoms that point to the need for Jesus. Drugs, money, porn and the many other idols, are symptoms that require the truth. Heroin is being injected on the billboard, but what goes in the heart comes out. And if Jesus is not in us, the wrong god is (Matthew 6:21).

Author and Pastor Mark Shaw will speak to the epidemic that has befallen the nation and in particular Montgomery County.

Shaw and his wife, Mary, relocated to Indiana from Alabama in 2013 in order for him to lead Vision of Hope (women’s residential treatment) and Safe Haven (one family transitional housing home for those who have lost their home in a natural disaster, are fleeing domestic violence or have otherwise been displaced) in Lafayette. With over two decades of counseling experience working in a variety of settings, both secular and faith-based, Shaw has been addressing issues surrounding addictions of all types and supervising staff for many years. His experience in the biblical counseling field began in 2001 and he is a Certified Biblical Counselor (International Association of Biblical Counselors; Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Level 2) and a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (Alabama Association of Drug and Alcohol Abuse).

He has written 20 published works including The Heart of Addiction; Relapse: Biblical Prevention Strategies; Divine Intervention: Hope and Help for Families of Addicts; Eating Disorders; Addiction Proof Parenting; and Hope and Help for Self Injurers/Cutters. He also co-authored a chapter in Christ Centered Biblical Counseling (2013) and was co-editor of Paul, the Counselor (2014).

Shaw leads the ministries of Vision of Hope and Safe Haven, supervises staff and interns, regularly teaches residents in a classroom setting, and oversees the progress of each resident.

His passion is to train the local body of believers in biblical counseling and specifically, biblical addiction counseling.

Shaw’s intent is that all who attend the conference leave encouraged that there is great hope for those ensnared in addictions of any kind.

Hoover project moves forward

Plans to continue renovations at Hoover Elementary School are moving forward.

The Crawfordsville Community School Corp. Board of Education on Thursday approved a resolution for the project, which is scheduled to resume next summer.

Crews will finish upgrades to both the roof and heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. Classrooms will receive new projectors, white boards and lighting, and be re-painted and re-carpeted.

A $1.3 million state grant is funding the project. No one spoke in favor of or against the plans during a public hearing.

Board members also approved a teacher appreciation grant policy, matching requirements in state law. Teachers rated “highly effective” can now receive 25 percent more incentive pay than colleagues who are rated “effective.”

In other business:

• The following positions were re-appointed: Dr. Scott Douglas, corporation doctor; Dr. Janet Rucker, corporation dentist; and Stu Weliever, corporation attorney.

• Members accepted the following resignations: Mary Fossnock, middle school math teacher; Heather Allen, Hoover music teacher; Trevor Fanning, middle/high school choir teacher; Adana Hedge, educational consultant; Janna Surber, educational consultant; Lesley Shrader, educational consultant; Misty McCarty, middle school aide; Evan Morgan, middle school math teacher; and Jill Coffing, West Central Indiana Special Services Cooperative director.

• The following hirings were approved: Ashley Sanders, middle school math teacher, and Leslie Oaks, K-1 teacher.

• Assistant Superintendent Dr. Rex Ryker reported 17 percent of students have registered online so far for the upcoming year. Bills will now be sent out in September, after the window for switching classes has closed.

National memorial in works for Gulf War

More than 25 years after serving in the Persian Gulf, Greg Carey knows there is less interest in the stories of driving Saddam Hussein’s forces from Kuwait.

“It’s just something that’s not in the forefront of people’s consciousness, I guess,” said Carey, who built roads for the Army during the war.

Carey got his first look Tuesday at plans for a national Operation Desert Storm memorial, which aims to educate younger generations about the war and honor more than 380 Americans killed in combat.

The war lasted from August 1990 to February 1991, led by a coalition of 35 nations against Iraq. By one count, three Indiana service members were killed in combat, and eight others died of non-hostile causes.

As the 20th anniversary of the combat phase approached, Marine infantry veteran Scott Stump said his then-preteen children didn’t seem fully aware of what happened, beyond their father’s experiences in the war.

Some veterans say the war is often merely remembered for the continuous television coverage or misperceived as the first chapter of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

“I came to realize if something didn’t happen and happen very quickly, this story — as unique as it is — would be forgotten,” said Stump, who lives in North Carolina.

He recruited other Gulf war veterans and their families to form the National Desert Storm War Memorial Association, raising funds for the site. 

Members also reached out to Congress for legislation authorizing the memorial, which President Donald Trump signed in March.

The $25 million, privately-funded project has key ties to the Hoosier state.

One association board member lives in Kokomo and U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) co-sponsored the legislation. Indianapolis-based  firm CSO Architects designed the proposed memorial.

Plans call for depicting a timeline of events, an engraving of the names of the fallen and statues representing a service man and woman.

Organizers want to build the memorial on land near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, a nod to the Vietnam veterans who commanded Desert Storm. Another site is under consideration across the Potomac River.

The foundation continues seeking corporate donations. Stump hopes the memorial will be dedicated in 2020.

To donate to the National Desert Storm War Memorial Association, go to ndswm.org/.

City ready to close on Crawford property

After a long-drawn out process, city officials are ready to close the deal on purchasing the South Washington Street property that will become a trail head park. 

On Wednesday, the Crawfordsville Board of Public Works and Safety approved an Office of Community Rural Affairs grant in the amount $480,000 which is the purchase price for the property.

Mayor Todd Barton said the grant is possible due to the Stellar Community designation the city received two years ago. The property originally was going to be used for Fusion 54. However, when the city switched gears and purchased the downtown PNC Bank building for Fusion 54, plans for the soon-to-be acquired property changed. 

Barton said the city had to obtain two independent appraisals on the property. Due to grant requirements, the city must pay the average of the two commercial appraisals with no negotiations in price. The property at 510 S. Washington St. is owned by Crawford Food Stores.

There is no match of funds required for the city with the grant.

Barton said the plans for the lot include a park, possibly a shelter and a parking area.

The board opened up the only bid received to demolish a house at 1824 Fremont St. The bid was accepted in the amount of $3,900 to demolish the structure that had been previously deemed unsafe.

City code enforcement officer Barry Lewis received permission to have city street department employees mow more unattended yards. 

Two properties, 207 W. Jefferson St., owned by Ronda Smith and Roger Busch, and 1013 1/2 E. Pike St., owned by Carlos Garcia, will be mowed for the first time. 

Four other properties, 508 and 701 John St., owned by Sustainable Solutions, 515 S. Water St., owned by Thomas Dickerson, and 1100 W. Market St., owned by Mark Sipe, will be mowed under a continuing abatement order since those properties have already be attended to by city workers from previous board action.

In other business, the board approved:

• Two parking spaces at 116 S. Washington St. being made available for B&M Construction until July 28.

• The use of the north end of Whitlock Avenue by Montgomery County 4-H to unload swine today.