LOCAL NEWS

Helping a friend in need

A friend helping a friend is the best way to explain why Tammy Wolfe is organizing an upcoming fund raiser for Darla Cohee. Cohee is battling cancer and Tammy wants to raise funds to help meet expenses during her friend’s battle against pancreatic/gallbladder cancer.  Cohee is scheduled to start chemotherapy treatments next week.

The Fight Cancer Benefit Drive is scheduled for 5 p.m. on March 11 at the Darlington Community Center, formerly the Darlington Armory. 

Middleton said she is hoping the event will lift Cohee’s spirit as friends and family gather.

“The benefit is going to show Darla all of our love and support,” Wolf said. “This girl is a fighter and I know with all of her friends and family’s support, she can beat this.”

The two friends have known each other since they both attended Southmont High School. The two work together at Banjo Corporation.

“Darla is one of the kindest, enthusiatstic people I know,” Wolf said. “She is liked by everybody at Banjo. This disease is awful but we are wanting to be there when she needs us.”

Banjo employees have stepped up to assist Wolf in planning the event. Wolf said the event started out being just a company fund raiser, but it has grown larger than she expected.

“The response from people has been unbelievable,” Wolf said. “People are helping out and the word is spreading all over.”

One Banjo employee has played in a band for several years and he is bringing his current band Blind Decision to provide live music for the event.

There will be a silent auction and a raffle drawing. 

To make sure there is plenty of food at the event, attendees are being asked to bring a side dish or dessert to go along with with the meat and drinks that will be provided. 

The public is invited and there is no admission fee. All proceeds will be donated to Cohee and her husband Joe Cohee.

Another way to help raise funds for the Cohee family is to order a t-shirt, hat or coozie at Skaggs & Largent Screenprinting located at 201 E. Main. Cost of the t-shirts are from $18 to $20. To order an item for more information on purchasing an item call 362-5477.

Amtrak Hoosier State offers amenities

The Indiana Department of Transportation, community partners and Amtrak announced passenger amenities on board the Hoosier State service when it transitioned to modern Amtrak railcars and locomotives on Wednesday. The train operates four days a week between Indianapolis and Chicago with intermediate stops in Crawfordsville, Lafayette, Rensselaer and Dyer.

Amtrak is providing Horizon-series coach cars, each seating 68 passengers and including accommodations for passengers with disabilities. A café car with an attendant will have table seating on one end of the car and private seating at the opposite end for 14 Business class passengers. Food and beverages, including alcoholic drinks, will be available for purchase in the café and can be enjoyed at the tables or at each passenger’s seat.

All the railcars have power outlets, reading lights and tray tables at each seat, with free cellular-based AmtrakConnect Wi-Fi that combines mobile data from multiple carriers along the tracks. Overhead space is provided for baggage and each of the railcars also has a rack to stow larger luggage at one end.

Amtrak continues to have the friendliest carry-on baggage policy in the travel industry, allowing up to four bags and 150 pounds per passenger. Also, coach passengers can bring along a dog or cat weighing 20 pounds or less, housed in a soft-sided carrier, for a fee of $25 each way.

One-way adult ticket prices for coach service to and from Chicago range from $25 to $47 from Crawfordsville. Children 2-12 years old are half-fare and discounts are also available for students, seniors, military and others.

Business class is in a curtained area with abundant space arranged with two seats on one side of the aisle and one seat on the other side, with leather seating surfaces, foot-rests and leg-rests. Included is a 25-percent points bonus for Amtrak Guest Rewards members, as well as complimentary coffee, tea and use of the Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge in Chicago, which offers priority boarding. The additional charge each way for business class is $21 from Indianapolis and Crawfordsville, $20 from Lafayette and $14 from Rensselaer and Dyer.

To mark the transition on Wednesday, Amtrak and INDOT are offering a “buy-one, get-one” fare for the month of March, so two adult passengers can ride for the price of one. See the Deals tab on Amtrak.com for applicable requirements for fare code V216, for purchase starting Feb. 28.

The Amtrak Hoosier State runs north on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday mornings as Train 851 and runs south on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings as Train 850. The other days each week these communities are served by the Amtrak Cardinal (Trains 50 & 51), which operates between New York City and Chicago. Indiana partners with its on-line communities for Hoosier State funding and guidance, and is among 18 states that contract with Amtrak to provide short-distance, intercity passenger rail services. To promote reliability, the locomotive and railcars used for the Hoosier State are part of a pool used for other Amtrak services in the Midwest.

Last call for Wine to Water tickets

Less than 100 tickets remain for the Crawfordsville Rotary Club Wine to Water Gala that will take place 6:45-11 p.m. March 18 at St. Bernard’s Cathlolic Church. Proceeds will help hurricane victims in Carrefour Sanon, Haiti, which is a community adopted by St. Bernard’s and the local Rotary Club chapter.

For gala organizer, Ron Hess, the event is personal because he knows the Haitian community that will be helped with the donations. He has traveled to the impoverished area many times. Hess most recently visited Carrefour Sanon to witness the destruction left after the area was ravished by Hurricane Matthew last year.

“To see photos of the destruction is one thing,” Hess said. “But when you know the people and are there with them, it is heartbreaking. The hurricane took their crops and homes, but I always admire how resilient these loving people are.”

The upcoming gala event will feature free wine tasting from four wineries — Hedgegrove Meadery and Winery from Newburgh, Coal Creek Winery from Crawfordsville, Wildcat Creek Winery from Lafayette and The Ridge from Madison. Hess said a fifth winery could possibly be added to the lineup.

There will be a variety of music in different rooms. An easy listening swing band will perform in the gymnasium where most of the action will take place. Hess said the band will act as background music so attendees will be able to talk and enjoy the company at their tables.

In an adjoining room, there will be a piano bar that features local singers, Rick Bzdok and Southmont High School senior Kasey Burton. Kym Bushong will perform in the Winery Room.

There will be a live auction with several of the items valued over $1,000. There are more than 50 items in a silent auction.

Several local artists have donated artwork to the event. The artwork can be seen now until the gala at the Athens Art Gallery. Visitors to the gallery can place a bid beginning today. Hess appreciates that so many artists contribute their work.

“The pieces actually represent their livelihood yet they are willing to donate to the gala,” Hess said.

Hors d’oeuvres will served during the evening.

Tickets for the gala sell for $35 and each ticket is an entry into a $1,000 cash drawing. Tickets can be purchased from any Rotarian, F.C. Tucker Realty, Surb’s Tire, Janis Stewart, Leslie Warren, Rod Curran, Morgan Glass and Paints or Hess.

Contact Hess at 765-401-1165.

AMTRAK resumes control of Hoosier State Line

For Chicago resident Joe Wallace and Kirkland resident Valerie Coy the news that Iowa Pacific was no longer providing rail service on the Hoosier State Line was disappointing.

Wallace was heading back to the Windy City on Wednesday and did not know that AMTRAK was taking over the passenger rail service, effective Wednesday. He expressed concern that the improvements he had seen in the past year will disappear and that delays in arrival times, no dining car and no internet service will return under AMTRAK.

“I was not aware the train was changing today,” Wallace said. “I loved the improvements we had seen with Iowa Pacific. I guess now all we can hope is that AMTRAK can at least maintain those improvements.”

Coy, who travels often to Chicago by train, was sorry to learn of the change in rail providers.

“I love traveling by train and I enjoy boarding the train in Crawfordsville,” Coy said. “We are going to miss the dining car, for sure.”

Six passengers boarded the train at 7 a.m. Wednesday, and they all agreed they will continue to use the train to travel to Chicago, if AMTRAK can deliver good rail service.

There were a few AMTRAK representatives aboard the train in the inaugural trip from Indianapolis to Chicago. Senior Specialist Charlie Verde said his company plans to concentrate on bringing quality rail service to the Hoosier State Line customers and community partners such as Crawfordsville and the Indiana Department of Transportation.

“We are focusing on moving forward at this point,” Verde said. “We are here to serve our community partners and INDOT and see what the future holds for this service.”

Iowa Pacific asked to be released from its contract amid disputes with AMTRAK. The passenger rail service provider had upgraded the cars and added enmities such as WI-FI and a dining car. Arrival times and delays had drastically improved and ridership had increased since the company took over the line.

Verde said AMTRAK wants to keep working with the communities that help subsidize the train service. He added those partners are an important for the Hoosier State Line.

“We are very content with our relationship with INDOT and the communities,” Verde said. “The key is keeping the communities involved as we work to provide a quality rail passenger service.”

AMTRAK will provide Horizon-series coach cars, each seating 68 passengers and accommodations for passengers with disabilities. A café car with an attendant will have table seating on one end of the car and private seating at the opposite end for 14 business class passengers.

Business class is in a curtained area with abundant space arranged with two seats on one side of the aisle and one seat on the other side, with leather seating surfaces, foot-rests and leg-rests.

During March, AMTRAK and INDOT are offering a “buy-one, get-one” fare, so two adult passengers can ride for the price of one.

Also for the month of March, coach customers will receive complementary Legacy Club access at Chicago Union Station, a $20 value.

The Hoosier State train will include the only dome car in AMTRAK’s service. These seats are unreserved and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

MUFFY closes 2016 campaign

The Montgomery United Fund For You closed the book on its 2016 campaign Wednesday, honoring companies for pitching in to support local nonprofits.

MUFFY raised $415,000 during the “Elevate Montgomery County” campaign, which kicked off in September. The money goes to more than 18 agencies supporting youth, seniors, mental health and residents in need.

That bests the 2015 total of $378,259.

“Really, it’s an amazing achievement for a community of our size to raise these kinds of funds each and every year,” said David Johnson, MUFFY’s executive director.

During a campaign celebration at Crawfordsville District Public Library, the organization handed out awards to the top fundraisers in every MUFFY division. Each company that held a fundraising campaign in 2016 was also recognized.

Hoosier Heartland State Bank was named “Campaign of the Year.” The bank raised more than $20,000, with employees making an average gift of $300.

The top fundraisers were:

• Commercial: HHSB

• Industrial: Pace Dairy

• Public service: Wabash College

• Rural/agriculture: Ceres Solutions

• Small business: Arni’s

Campaign chair Lacinda Stephens thanked all the businesses for their support.

“I appreciate everything all of you have done to make this a successful campaign year,” she said.

MUFFY is gearing up for this year’s campaign. The organization is working on a theme, starting focus groups and surveying supporters.

Donations made now will benefit the 2017 campaign, which provides for agencies in 2018.

“We accepts gifts all year long,” Johnson said.

HOW TO HELP

Here’s how to donate to the MUFFY campaign:

Online: muffy.org

Phone: 765-362-5484

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mail: P.O. Box 247, Crawfordsville, IN 47933

In person: 221 E. Main St., Crawfordsville