Working together helps a TON

Crawfordsville Middle School, Northridge Middle School and Southmont Junior High School recently delivered the results of their schools’ canned food drive to the FISH food pantry. The three schools had a combined goal of donating one ton -— 2,000 pounds — of food. Instead, they blew that goal out of the water by raising almost 3,000 pounds of food.

The food drive began Oct. 19 and lasted for two weeks. Each middle school had a competition within the building, but no bragging rights were given this time to the winning corporation.

“As opposed to competition,” said CMS art teacher Laurie Vellner, “we wanted to come together and do something good. So that’s where this idea came from.”

SJHS Guidance Counselor Mary Scheidler said that the concept of the three schools working together came from the Montgomery County Rotary Club Leadership Conference. Students from all three corporations learn leadership and team-building skills, and during this year’s camp, they discussed how to use those same skills to give back to the community.

“Rather than going against each other, why can’t they work together?” said CMS science teacher Shannon Hudson, who was also this year’s speaker at the leadership conference. “Is not that the real world, and do we not want that for them in the real world?”

Hudson also pointed out that students from all three schools will benefit from the FISH food pantry at some point.

Tami Mussche, the FISH pantry coordinator, said the pantry serves residents from all around the county. Just in one month, 320 families benefit from the FISH pantry, or about 1300 people.

And this large donation came at just the right time.

“We always have a slow season from August until December, when the donations start coming in,” Mussche said. “So a thousand pounds worth of food is quite a bit for us. It should last possibly a week to a week and a half.”

Muusche helped the middle schoolers unload box after box of canned food from vehicles and was really impressed by the results of the students’ hard work and cooperation.

“It just shows that, at a young age, they’re learning and being directed by their instructors to give back to their community,” she said. “And that will be instilled in them through adulthood as well.”

Each of the three schools has already celebrated their own students by rewarding the winning group or classroom. For Crawfordsville, that included Halloween costumes and eating first lunch all week. For Southmont, it meant getting to eat pizza for the winning homeroom.

But before their celebrations and before they were even done unloading at the FISH food pantry, the schools were already coming up with ideas for their next service project. And if the results of this project are any indication, they won’t be competing against each other anymore.

School board president to resign

Crawfordsville School Board President Dale Petrie announced Thursday night his plans to resign his seat at the end of the year.

Petrie made the announcement at the end of the board’s November meeting. He was first elected to the school board in 1994.

Petrie cited his health as one of the factors for his resignation. He said that he suffered a stroke more than a year ago.

“Every doctor said ‘you need to slow down,’” he said.

Petrie said that he has been going back-and-forth on the decision for about a year-and-a-half. In addition to health reasons, he said that he has lost some of the passion he had previously.

“I don’t want to go through the motions,” he said after the meeting. “We can get new people on the board and new energy.”

During Petrie’s 21 years on the Crawfordsville School Board, he has seen a high school building project, a middle school building project and an elementary reorganization.

He said that the reorganization is something that stands out to him for his years serving on the board. The school district moved from three K-5 schools to one kindergarten-first grade building, one second grade-third grade building and one fourth grade-fifth grade building. The change took place in 2007.

“That was probably the hardest thing we did and one of the best,” Petrie said.

Board members Ellen Ball and Steve McLaughlin expressed sadness and appreciation to Petrie’s announcement. Superintendent Scott Bowling went a little further.

“Thank you for everything you have done for the school corporation,” he said. 

Bowling mentioned the different projects and accomplishments Petrie was a part of, as well as working with multiple superintendents during his tenure.

“You have given well to this community,” Bowling said. “And what a result.”

Petrie, re-elected last year, has three years left on his current term.

Robotics teams to display creations

Have you ever seen real robots in action? Did you know that local students are building and programing robots to complete specific tasks? Visit the Carnegie Museum 1-3 p.m. Saturday to see local robotic teams demonstrate and discuss their robot creations.

Crawfordsville High School teams will showcase their robotic creations and other high-tech projects they are developing. Crawfordsville Middle School robotic teams also will demonstrate their Lego-based robotic creations.

This event is not a competition, though these teams are all preparing for future competitions in their respective leagues.

“This is a chance for them to demonstrate their work for the public to see ­— and to show what amazing things are happening at the local schools,” said Kat Burkhart, executive director and curator of the Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County. “Hopefully, other students will see these teams as an inspiration and find out more about the programs.”

The museum is located at 222 S. Washington St. Admission to the museum is free.

Regular hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and by appointment.

For more information, call 765-362-4618 or visit online at www.cdpl.lib.in.us/carnegie; or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Persistence pays off for Dugger

Justin Dugger saw a dream come true Wednesday. In a special ceremony, Dugger, with the help of Indiana National Guard General Wayne Black, capped off his Eagle Scout project by installing a flag disposal box on South Green Street.

Dugger, who is a special needs Scout, has been dreaming about this day for nearly 20 years.


“I joined the Boy Scouts when I was 13 years old,” the now 32-year-old Dugger said. “I asked my Scout leader what I could do to become an Eagle Scout. Now I am almost there.”

Dugger’s next step is to be interviewed about his Scouting experiences and Eagle Scout journey. The interview is slated for after the holidays. If he passes, he will be awarded the highest rank a Boy Scout can achieve.

Taking care of the American flag is important to Dugger. During the ceremony he spoke of properly disposing of a worn or tattered flag.

“We, the American people, have stayed true to the values the flag represents,” Dugger said. “We should always value our veterans who have made our flag and country so great. We have an old friend here who has fulfilled his duty to our country. When he becomes worn and tattered we should retire him with honor.”

Family friend and neighbor, Lee Eggleston, drew up the plans for Dugger’s project. Dugger asked him to bring the first flag to be deposited into the box.

“He has been so persistent,” Eggleston said. “It has been a process he could have given up on but he didn’t. I have known Justin for a good while and I was thrilled to help out.”

Dugger first joined with Troop 326 at First Baptist Church before transferring to the First United Methodist Church Troop 318. Later, Troop 342 was started for individuals with special needs at the First Christian Church, and Dugger joined that troop. However it has since disbanded. He is now back with Troop 318. The troop has agreed to help maintain the disposal box and remove deposed flags.

Dugger’s step-father, Russell Switzer, is proud of his son.

“He has gone this far being a special needs scout, and now he has completed his Eagle Scout project, I could not be more proud of him,” Switzer said.

Black congratulated Dugger and expressed his appreciation for Dugger wanting to have the ceremony on Veterans Day.

“This is a worthwhile project, and Justin did an awesome job putting it all together,” Black said. “Just as we honor those men and women who served the flag, we also want to pay the same respect to the emblem that symbolizes what we stand for in the United States.”

Crawfordsville baseball coach John Froedge also was in attendance. He and Dugger have developed a special bond through the years.

“Justin and I go way back, going on almost 20 years,” Froedge said. “I know he has talked about it for a long time. He is an outstanding young man and he is loyal to his community. He has a great work ethic and whatever he decides to do he gets done. I am very proud of Justin.”

Dugger was all smiles after the ceremony.

“I am happy I finally got this project done,” Dugger said. “I hope people will use it. I think it turned out pretty nice.”

Dugger thanked the following for assisting him with the project — First United Methodist Church, Boy Scout Troop 318, American Legion Post #72, Sons of American Legion Squadron #72, Debby and John Froedge, Scaggs Design and Eggleston.

Fire destroys Darlington home

DARLINGTON — Bystanders watched flames blast through the windows and the roof a Darlington house Wednesday morning, but a sense of relief could be felt as no one was home at the time.

The blue, two-story house in the 300 block of West Main Street caught fire between 9-9:15 a.m.


Neighbor Zac Young was walking by the house with his wife, when they first saw the flames. A volunteer with the Darlington Fire Department was already on the scene to see if it was a brush fire. After the two men saw the flames on the inside, the firefighter ran to get his truck. Young kicked down the door and headed inside.

“I yelled in and didn’t see anybody,” Young said.

He heard a few animals, but with the flames growing, he had to get out of the house.

Darlington Assistant Fire Chief David Paddack said his biggest focus, after learning there were no people inside, was containing the fire to one house. A tan house next door received some damage to the siding, but the fire department was able to keep the flames from spreading.

“It’s going to be a bit of a process trying to get it all put out,” he said. “That’s for sure.

The Darlington Fire Department had help from other volunteer departments from Linden, Thorntown, Darlington, Colfax, Clarks Hill and Walnut Township.

“Right now we have no idea what started it,” Paddack said. He said an official from the State Fire Marshal’s office may inspect the house, which is considered a complete loss.

The house had a wood stove, but firefighters said it didn’t look like that was the source of the fire. The cause is still up for speculation, but some of them were thinking it was an electrical fire.

Tracy Ramie and her boyfriend John McRoberts had lived in the house for 10 years. Though they were renters, it was still their home.

Ramie said the hardest part about losing everything — especially their pets — was figuring out how to tell her four children.

The family is staying at the hotel where Ramie works for the time being, but the family has several friends and relatives who are already stepping up to help.

Along with the Montgomery County EMA and the American Red Cross, members of the Congregational Christian Church of Darlington also were on site to help the family as well as the firefighters.

Ramie would like to thank everyone who was at the scene who was working to help her family. She also appreciated everyone who and offered her and her family emotional and financial support moving forward.