Spring plant exchange is Saturday

Twice a year Montgomery County Master Gardeners sponsor a plant exchange for the community. 

From 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, the Spring Plant Exchange will take place in the arena of the Montgomery County 4-H Fairgrounds.

Master Gardener Bob Smith said now is the time for residents to thin out their plants. 

“With all this rain, it will be easy for people to thin out their plants and bring them to the exchange,” Smith said. “There will be plenty of plants for everyone.”

For each plant brought in to the exchange, a gardener can take a plant. Or, any resident that does not have anything to exchange may receive a plant for the price of a small donation to the Master Gardeners.

Smith said there will be several varieties of plants available. Traditionally he said there will be flowering plants, vegetables, bushes and shrubbery. 

In the past, the spring exchange is the larger of the two and there will be something for everyone.

Master Gardener president Byron Thada said the event is a good time for someone looking to add plants to their gardens or yards. 

“This is a time that, if someone has extra plants, shrubs or bushes they want to give away, they can do so,” Thada said. “It also can be a time that a person can find an unusual plant or even get something without trading.”

The event is for residents with all type of gardening experience. In fact, it is a good time to chat with a Master Gardener to gain advice about gardening and sprucing up a yard.

“A lot of times what the Master Gardeners bring to exchange is good for beginner or novice gardeners,” Thada said. “There is always something new and different every year.”

He said he has come home from the event with something new about every year.

For more information about the plant exchange or the program, contact Thada at 765-376-8471.

Flooding Causes Concern

Flooding and high water started causing havoc throughout Montgomery County on Thursday. Several roads were closed by the county highway and Sugar Creek was flooding out of its banks. 

At 4 p.m. Thursday, the creek was registering eight feet and rising quickly. The crest is expected to be over 10 feet by 2 p.m. Thursday.

Harrington said she will be manning her command center throughout Thursday evening. Residents can call 765-364-5154 if needing assistance from her department.

The EMA started distributing sandbags at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at 1201 E. Elmore Street. The county highway delivered the sand to the new warehouse Thursday and volunteers started filling the sandbags.

Harrington expects to continue passing out sandbags through Friday evening. She also said once the rains stop, to not allow children to play in flood waters.

“Children do not need to be playing in any flooded waters,” Harrington said. “Flood waters can contain fecal material and other contaminants. To prevent anyone from getting sick, we need to get the word out to not play in the flood waters.”

Montgomery County Highway Director Jeremy Phillips reported his crews had been working on closing roads and distributing high water barriers on Thursday. He asked residents to not drive through water on the roads as it can quickly become a dangerous situation.

Phillips said his department had crews on stand-by to assist residents during the night Thursday.

Crawfordsville Street Department Commissioner Scott Hesler said his department had posted high water signs throughout the city. One of the first areas to be experiencing dangerous flooding was at Milligan Park.

Hesler said the rains proved to be a good test for all the new drains recently installed on W. Main Street and they had passed the test. He said the worst problem with the street drains was the grass clippings residents had blown into streets. His crews unplugged several drains on Thursday so rain water could escape.

Surviving the storm

Montgomery County is not much different than most communities throughout the United States in terms of battling illegal drugs. Opioids, cocaine, meth and other mainline drugs are turning normal people into addicts. People from the entire social spectrum are being caught up into finding the next high which for many, leads to a life of shattered relationships, a feeling of poor self-worth and often times, a ride though the legal system. The final destination can be death by overdose.

Sometimes, the addict realizes their life path is not the one they desire, so they find the courage and strength to stop using drugs. One such person is 21-year old Caden Cline.

Caden was a normal high school student in Montgomery County. He participated on the varsity wrestling team and was a better than average student in the classroom. He was popular and had a loving and caring family. 

After high school Caden enlisted in the U.S. Army. Away from home and away from friends and family, he started making bad choices. He partied way too much and eventually found himself using cocaine and other drugs. He was on the path of destruction.

Caden found himself spending $700 per month on getting his next high. He started losing weight. His friends and family told him he just did not look healthy. He knew he was in trouble. 

Caden had seen the self destruction before. He had attended funerals of friends who had overdosed. He had a cousin overdose while a student at Indiana University. He understood where his life choices were headed. Finally, he heard the voice of his pleading mother and realized he needed help. The mirror did not lie and he knew he was worrying his mother. He knew he needed to change. Finally, he had a wake-up call. After a night of inhaling cocaine, he woke up with a noise bleed that would not quit. It scared him. He changed that morning.

Unlike most drug addicts in Indiana, Caden had the opportunity to get the help he needed. He wanted to get on the path of recovery and the Army was there for him in the fall of 2015.

“I finally got to the point that I was tired of the life I was living and decided “no more”, “ Caden said. “I enrolled into the Army’s substance abuse program because I had made up my mind to quit doing drugs.”

Realizing the only way an addict can successfully defeat drug abuse is by desiring a change, Caden started on his path to recovery.

“An addict can only get recovered or sober if they truly want it,” Caden said. “The first step is accepting you are an addict and you must be willing to face it head on.”

Caden credits a loving family that helped him break the chains of addiction. He said his mother showed unconditional love the whole time he was struggling. He said her words of encouragement helped him more than anyone will ever know.

“You need to have a support system of friends and family,” Caden said. “An addict needs to find at least one person who they trust that they can talk to.”

Recently Caden attended the funeral of another close friend who was a victim of overdosing heroin. While at the funeral, he saw the victim’s friends come to grieve and pay their respects. As he watched the group, many of which were his partying friends, he noticed something else that broke his heart. He had hoped attending the funeral would be the group’s wake-up call to turn away from the drug life. Instead he knew the group of friends, who were shunned by others, would soon be getting high together once again. He knew they would find comfort and acceptance amongst themselves which would lead to using drugs together yet again.

“Today addicts are pushed away by other people,” Caden said. “Too many times people look down on the addict and that just makes the addict feel worse. So, what do they do? They go back to the drugs where they will feel accepted.”

Caden believes the only weapon that will solve the drug abuse is offering help to the addicts. His philosophy is that extended jail time does the addict no good unless they can go somewhere to get over their addiction.

Caden continues to be motivated to remain clean from drugs. He has been trying to talk to his friends who are involved with drugs. He wants to be the ears of sympathy and the voice of reason to people he cares about. 

“I want to help people get motivated to change,” Caden said. “I want people to take a step back and see where they are headed. Recovery is possible.”

Class of ‘57 marks 60th anniversary

There had never been so many young men and women walk across the stage on commencement day at Crawfordsville High School.

After the 173 members of the Class of 1957 accepted their diplomas, they went out to wear the nation’s uniform, treat the sick, teach generations of students and even become world-renown seed geneticists. One classmate gave $20 million to DePauw University.

“We have people who have just really been outstanding, but they still come back to be part of this group,” said class coordinator Mary (Lamb) Wright, who now lives in Winter Haven, Florida.

As they gather for their 60th class reunion this weekend, the proud Athenians wish younger classes could be as close-knit as they’ve remained over the years, lamenting what they see as a dwindling emphasis on staying connected to the high school years.

Since the 50th reunion, classmates who still live in the area have met once a month. Some of the women also regularly have lunch.

Lamb, a retired educator, joined classmates Anna (Proctor) Morgan, Robert Snyder and Larry Fletcher Thursday morning to share memories.

It was the days of hanging out at the Gin-Jer-Boo, plunking down a quarter for a picture at the Strand and grabbing a quick bite at the Gold & Blue.

Morgan, who retired from the business office at Wabash College, played clarinet in the band. Fletcher, who did computer work after the Navy, played trombone. 

When they practiced, the instruments echoed across the hallways.

“We always had to march from the high school to the Hoover Field for the ball games,” Morgan remembered, “and then we had to get our own ride back to the high school.”

Snyder was active in the Athenian Booster Club. He went on to spend 24 years in retail at JC Penney and Loeb’s Department Store before joining the Governor’s Commission for a Drug Free Indiana, where he served as state director.

The alums will never forget the booming voice of principal Louis Darst, who the students called “King Louie.” Darst once chastised a young man who forgot his belt.

Lamb remembers her stomach flipping as she was called to the principal’s office, where Darst was waiting with other teachers and faculty members.

“And he informed me that they had worked very hard because they thought I should go to college, and he presented me with room and board, full tuition and $100 a semester to go to IU,” she said.

“That today won’t buy a book,” Fletcher chimed in.

Darst also arranged for a pregnant classmate who had to withdraw to do correspondence work. The girl earned her diploma before the rest of her class even graduated.

But Darst wouldn’t bend the rules for Norma Stites.

“She was a half credit short, hadn’t taken something,” Lamb explained, “and he told her she wasn’t going to graduate.”

Superintendent Dr. Scott Bowling will present Stites with her diploma this weekend.

Also during Saturday’s program, a special memorial service will be held for the 81 classmates who are deceased. The most recent, Danny Danforth, died just Sunday.

The public is invited to a presentation by Dr. Dave Allen at 3 p.m. Saturday in the First United Methodist Church fellowship hall.

Allen, who was junior class president and served in numerous clubs at CHS, will present a genealogy lecture on his family’s history in Montgomery County. 

His older brother, Joe, is the astronaut well known for his missions aboard the space shuttles Columbia and Discovery in the 1980s. Their family owned the Allen Brothers Store in Crawfordsville.

Bags, backpacks given to CASA children

Tiffany Reeves knew the children deserved better.

After watching a video of a foster dad talking about children showing up at his door with their worldly possessions in a trash bag, she decided to help give proper luggage to young people in out-of-home care.

“It made you really stop and think,” she said. “You really don’t know what these kids go through.”

As a Thirty-One Gifts consultant, Reeves was running a special on cinch bags and backpacks. That was the connection friend Kasey Hoffman needed for her fundraiser, Cinch Up Compassion for Foster Kids.

Volunteers gathered recently at California Pellet Mill recently to fill 355 bags and/or backpacks for the Montgomery County Youth Service Bureau, whose clients include foster children.

But the generosity did not end there.

As she does for every fundraiser she sells for, Reeves donated most of her commission to YSB.

She presented $1,000 to YSB executive director Karen Branch.

“It makes you feel good to be able to give back,” Reeves said.

The money will help YSB provide training and recruit volunteers for the Court Appointed Special Advocates Program, which serves children who are victims of abuse or neglect, helping ensure they are placed in safe and permanent homes as soon as possible.

CASA also provides funds for children who cannot afford extra-curricular activities.

“Sometimes even if they’re in foster care, you may have a child that wants to take gymnastics and there may be no other resources available,” Branch said.

Branch said she had never experienced such an outpouring of love for the CASA children.

The cinch bags and backpacks were taken to a storage facility and will be distributed to foster children as needed.

Each bag was filled with toiletries, hand sanitizer, bookmarks and Bibles. A group of third graders from Sommer Elementary also collected or sewed blankets for the bags.

“I don’t even know how many volunteers we had come that night, but we were done within 45 minutes,” Hoffman said. “It was pretty amazing.”

Through a deal with Thirty-One, Hoffman earned 31 free bags, which she donated to YSB to put in the silent auction at Dancing with the Montgomery County Stars next month.

For Reeves, the fundraiser was a learning experience. She said CASA needs more advocates.

“Anybody that has the time and can get involved, it’s just going to make a huge difference in one child’s life, if not more than one,” she said.