Teens’ murders could be teaching opportunity

As police continue to hunt for whoever killed two Delphi girls on the eve of Valentine’s Day, authorities say the case is an opportunity to teach children about safety.

“Hopefully this makes parents have that conversation,” said Montgomery County Chief Deputy Sheriff Ryan Needham.

It has been 10 days since the bodies of 13-year-old Abigail Williams and 14-year-old Liberty German were found in a wooded area near a recreational trail in Delphi. Agencies spent Thursday following up on thousands of new tips after the release of an audio clip of a suspect Liberty managed to capture on her cell phone. The FBI is using electronic billboards across the state seeking information on the case.

State police called Liberty a “hero” for recording the man, who could be heard saying, “Down the hill.” Authorities don’t know whether the voice belongs to a man who Liberty also photographed walking along the trail about the time they disappeared, or if there are others involved in the deaths.

Police said the audio could be the missing piece for investigators to solve the case.

“Without it, who knows where they would be today,” Needham said.

Even if the recording hadn’t been available, the girls seemed to be following the advice that has long been drilled into children on avoiding or prevention dangerous situations. They had paired up, carried cell phones and arranged for a family member to pick them up later.

For children, the tragic outcome is a reminder that not everything in the world can be controlled.

“That’s where faith comes in, and belief about the world,” said Judith Myers-Walls, professor emerita of human development and family studies at Purdue University.

The deaths require parents to discuss grief and mourning, she said, when talking to their children about safety. Parents should avoid being overly cautious, she added, because concentrating on negative possibilities can be traumatizing for kids.

But in the wake of a tragic event, parents can never be too careful, said Dr. Richard Elghammer, a local psychologist. He said parents should use role-playing scenarios to teach their child how to respond in potentially dangerous situations, like being approached by someone they don’t know.

“Your mother and dad aren’t being overprotective,” Elghammer said he would tell children. “They’re trying to keep you alive.

County GOP searching for next officers

The Montgomery County Republican Central Committee will caucus at 10 a.m. March 4 at the Crawfordsville District Public Library to elect officers for the next for years. Two have announced they will not seek re-election.

In a press release, Chairperson Suanne Milligan stated she would not seek election to continue as chair.

“It has been a privilege,” Milligan stated. “I think the Montgomery County G.O.P. is in better shape than in recent years, having improved financially an in internal cooperation and external credibility.”

Milligan cited she wants to be able to concentrate on her work as an attorney. She also stated she plans on spending more time with her family and other interests. 

Milligan does not believe it will be difficult to find a new leader of the party.

“There are no doubt others who can continue the present momentum,” Milligan stated. “I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as party chairman and extend my thanks to all who have supported me.”

Vice Chair Jennifer Andel has also stated she would not seek re-election citing she wants to spend more time with her family.

Milligan was chosen to lead the county G.O.P. in 2016 when former chairman John Pickerill resigned to join the Libertarian Party.

Other current officers include Secretary Marie Pickerill and Treasurer Neil Barclay.

City, County moving forward

The state of the City of Crawfordsville and Montgomery County remains strong.

Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton and Montgomery County Commissioner Phil Bane presented an update on the city and county at the State of the City and County Address, sponsored by the League of Women Voters. Fewer than 150 people were in attendance at Crawfordsville High School for the event.

Barton gave an update on the city’s Stellar projects, as well as updating the public on the progress to connect U.S. 231 and State Road 47. He touched on successes from 2016 and told the crowd what to expect in 2017-18.

A major portion of the mayor’s presentation dealt with economic development. Recently the city announced plans to part ways with Indiana West Advantage and join with Montgomery County to handle economic development under the umbrella of local government.

“Those decisions were not easy,” Barton said. “But ultimately I must do what I believe is in the best interest of this community and gives us the greatest chance at success.”

Barton said that he is hopeful the city and county can reach a joint agreement to partner on economic development in the near future.

“The time for simply talking about it has come and gone,” Barton said. “It is time to sell this community to the outside world and bring in new investment.”

The city’s assessed value increased $20 million in 2016

“This means the cost of providing services is spread over a larger tax base,” Barton said, decreasing the burden on existing taxpayers. It is a clear sign we are trending in the right direction.”

Bane, too, touched on what happened in 2016. He reminded the crowd of the highway department fire and the loss of the county’s fleet of trucks. He looked to the future as the county will soon take the next steps in the courthouse clock tower restoration project.

Bane finished his update by talking about the state of the county’s finances. He said that the county budget has been in decline for 10 years. He said that while the county works to save money where they can, “we will never save ourselves to prosperity.”

“The key for Montgomery County’s future success is to grow our assessed valuations as well as our population,” Bane said. “Sustained growth will lower property tax rates for all of us.”

Bane challenged the county council to look at different avenues to find revenue, specifically at the $15 million the county had in the county coffers. He acknowledged that portions of that money is earmarked for specific items, but challenged the council to look through the various funds.

“This exercise in county government is not a 100-meter dash,” Bane said. “It’s more likened to a 26.2 mile marathon.”

He pointed out that there are “no silver bullets” to fix all problems.

“We must remember we’re only a few hundred yards into this marathon race and decisions we make today will affect what we look like tomorrow,” Bane said.

After both men spoke, the crowd was given the opportunity to ask questions. Questions ranged from the Crawfordsville Commerce Park to homestead credits being wrongly assessed to properties in the city and county.

The message was clear — the future is bright.

“We are well on our way to taking our great community to the next level and I appreciate the words of encouragement and support I received from everyone,” Barton said.

Forum aims save a life by stopping a suicide

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for Hoosiers ages 15 to 24. Research compiled by Indiana Youth Institute in its 2017 KIDS COUNT in Indiana Data Book found that one in five Indiana high school students have considered attempting suicide, and one in six have made a plan for attempting suicide and one in ten have tried to take their own life.

IYI and its community partners are hosting a suicide prevention workshop to help youth workers, parents, coaches, teachers and others learn how to spot the warnings signs of suicide. The workshop is 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday in the Donnelley Room of the Crawfordsville Public Library, 205 S. Washington St.

Madeline Zielinski with Mental Health America of Indiana will teach attendees how to recognize the warnings signs of suicide ideation, how to ask someone directly about suicide and the resources available to help a person who may be thinking about taking their life.

As part of IYI’s Youth Worker Café program, the forum and lunch are free, but reservations are required. Visit www.iyi.org/calendar or contact IYI Statewide Outreach Manager Debbie Jones by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For more information on the Youth Worker Café, contact IYI East Central Indiana Outreach Manager Alison Palmer by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This event is the result of collaborative efforts between Children’s Bureau Inc. the Department of Child Services, Montgomery County Youth Service Bureau, Montgomery County Community Foundation and IYI. Youth Worker Cafés are designed to bring together local youth workers to build relationships and inspire collaborations that will benefit children.

Board OKs replacement of pipe lines

New storm water improvements are coming to existing drainage pipes north of downtown Crawfordsville.

The present pipes that are deteriorated run from North Street to the access road, known as Light Plant Hill, that is east of U.S. 231 North.

City Street Department Sanitarian Scott Hesler said 600 feet of pipe will be replaced. The Crawfordsville Board of Public Works and Safety approved a $181,863 bid from Price Excavating of Crawfordsville to complete the work at their meeting Wednesday.

When construction begins, Hesler said there will be no-parking signs from North Street along the west side of the building housing Phantom Neon.

Bids for new police cars were received from two Chrysler dealerships. York Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep of Crawfordsville and Fletcher Dodge of Franklin submitted bids. The board agreed to take the bids under advisement.

The board also approved an affiliation agreement between the Crawfordsville Fire Department and Indianapolis EMS. Assistant Chief Paul Miller told the board the agreement will allow Indianapolis-area trainees to come to Crawfordsville to receive training. The agreement also will allow Crawfordsville trainees the opportunity to train with Indianapolis EMTs.

Miller told the board the agreement will aid in training and recruitment for future job openings in the C.F.D.

The board approved an agreement with W. Enterprises for recycling services at the cost of $2,784 per month. The agreement states the company will operate at least one recycling drop-off site. The site is just north of the Trinity Mission home on Whitlock Avenue.

An area near the city building will soon undergo renovations. The board approved and agreement between the city and interior decorator Lora Craft Wiles to perform the work. The cost of the project is $4,235.

A request to convert an alley on Tuttle Avenue from non-improved to improved was tabled. Mayor Todd Barton reported the person who had requested the action, Everett Davenport, had withdrawn the request.