Rushville Republican

January 2, 2013

Top stories of 2012

Rushville Republican

RUSHVILLE — Drought was big concern

Throughout much of 2012 a shortfall in precipitation was a great concern to many people throughout the United States; Indiana and Rush County were no exceptions.

Rain finally arrived as summer was winding down but it was too late for production crops. Corn was especially hard-hit, but beans and wheat also suffered from a lack of precipitation.

Based on the Palmer Drought Index, severe to extreme drought affected about 45 percent of the contiguous United States as of the end of November 2012, an increase of about 8 percent from the previous month.

About 1 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the severely to extremely wet categories.

About 60 percent of the contiguous U.S. fell in the moderate to extreme drought categories (based on the Palmer Drought Index) at the end of November.

On a broad scale, the 1980s and 1990s were characterized by unusual wetness with short periods of extensive droughts, the 1930s and 1950s were characterized by prolonged periods of extensive droughts with little wetness, and the first decade of the 2000s saw extensive drought and extensive wetness.

According to the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM), about 62.7 percent of the contiguous U.S. (about 52.4 percent of the U.S. including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico) was classified as experiencing moderate to exceptional (D1-D4) drought at the end of November.

It’s not clear to what extent the drought will impact food prices, but early indications make it clear some consumables, such as milk and meat, will see a price increase over the course of the new year.

Ison gets life for killing 5

In mid March we reported that a southeastern Indiana man who pleaded guilty to fatally shooting five people during an apparent drug dispute was sentenced to life in prison without parole after telling a judge he deeply regretted the killings.

David Ison, of Glenwood, avoided a possible death sentence by unexpectedly pleading guilty to murdering an estranged couple, two of their adult children and a neighbor near Laurel.

Franklin Circuit Judge Steven Cox found during the hearing in Brookville that prosecutors had proved beyond a reasonable doubt the aggravating factors in the killings, which included the multiple deaths and that Ison was on probation at the time of the Sept. 25, 2011 killings, said prosecutor Melvin Wilhelm.

Ison, 46, also addressed the court, telling the judge he was high on drugs when he killed his victims, the prosecutor said.

VanSchoyck sentenced to 55 years

In mid September, Dylan A. VanSchoyck, 20, of Milroy, returned to Rush Circuit Court Judge David Northam’s courtroom to learn his fate regarding the murder of Jerran L. Chandler, who was 22 at the time of his death.

Initially, VanSchoyck pleaded not guilty in the felony murder case although he eventually accepted a plea agreement on the matter.

After hearing from members of the victim’s family, including Chandler’s mother, father, grandmother, sister and another relative, Judge Northam requested a brief recess before rendering his decision.

Northam accepted the plea agreement and sentenced the Milroy man to 55 years behind bars.

2012 election brought changes

Democrat Christy Mahan Hall won the race for Rush County Coroner in November’s General Election, outdistancing Republican John Todd by 117 votes.

The race for Rush County School Board District 4 saw incumbent Jane Busald Carter edged out by Milroy resident Tammy Jackman.

The other contested local races were for seats on the Charles A. Beard School Board. Michelle S. White. Don A. Scheumann and Leah J. Kopp all won seats on the board and will begin serving in January.

Running unopposed were David Northam to retain his seat as Rush Circuit Court judge; Debbie Richardson as Rush County Clerk; Mary Ann Beard, Rush County Auditor; Cindy Humphrey, Rush County Treasurer; and Marvin Rees, Rush County Surveyor.

Rush County School Board members Jeff Slaton in District 3, Steve Sickbert in District 6 and Ron Lienemann in District 7 were unopposed.

The Rush County Commissioners will have two new members for the next four years: Bruce Levi (central district) and Mark Bacon (southern district).

Three Rush County Council at-large seats were up for grabs; Marvin Hedrick, Warren Norris and Charles Smith were elected.

Voters moved to Districts 54, 55

In March we reported that due to the 2010 Census population changes, most of Indiana’s State House Districts had been redistricted.

Rush County residents were in Districts 53 and 67. They are now in Districts 54 and 55.

Rush County Clerk Debbie Richardson stated, “None of our voters were moved into a different precinct. However, the state legislature did change the House Districts that represent us. State House District 54 includes Rushville 1 to 6 and 8, Ripley 9 and 10, Posey, Jackson and Center Townships. State House District 55 includes Rushville 7, Walker, Orange, Anderson, Washington, Union, Noble and Richland Townships.”

RMH, St. Vincent partner for ER services

In May we reported that Rush Memorial Hospital and St. Vincent officials announced a new partnership to enhance emergency services for area residents and families.

Through the partnership, RMH will manage the emergency room (ER) and the faith-based health system will provide emergency medicine physicians and medical direction.

The partnership enhanced the level of emergency care for Rush County residents and ensured patients have increased access to advanced specialty care, according to RMH CEO Brad Smith.

“I am very excited about the relationship that has developed between Rush Memorial and St. Vincent as it relates to our Emergency Department,” Smith said at the time.

RCS board OKs changes

In early October, the Rush County Schools Board of Trustees approved a plan that outlines the procedure in which current superintendent of schools Dr. John Williams will be replaced.

This plan is an outline of what will take place as various roles change over the next two years.

The board approved the retirement of Dr. John E. Williams from the position of superintendent at the end of the 2013-2014 school year.

This plan also calls for the position of assistant superintendent to be filled beginning with the 2013-14 school year. The local school corporation has been without an assistant superintendent since Dennis Chambers left three years ago.

The board’s plan calls for current Rushville Consolidated High School Principal Matt Vance to fill the assistant superintendent position with the understanding that during this time Vance will gain first-hand knowledge in the long-term and day-to-day operation of Rush County Schools.

Upon successful completion of this transition and final approval of the board Vance would then assume the role of superintendent of the Rush County Schools.

In December, the Rushville Republican reported that the Rush County Schools Board of Trustees had named Robert C. Hadley to succeed Vance as the principal at Rushville Consolidated High School.

Hadley will continue to serve as the assistant principal at RCHS for the remainder of the 2012-2013 school year and begin serving as principal in the 2013-2014 school year (effective July 1, 2013).

A year of road work

A number of INDOT road improvement projects were realized on state roads surrounding Rushville during 2012.

Improvements were made on SR 3 from Rushville to U.S. 40. INDOT crews chipped and sealed the state road, reducing northbound and southbound travel to a single lane for nearly a month.

South and east of the Rushville city limits similar projects were completed on SR 3 to the county line and on East U.S. 52.

Once the initial U.S. 52 project was completed a number of complaints were received by state officials regarding what motorists felt were reduced driving conditions and a second road improvement effort was realized in the fall.

The state had an official truck and detour route designated around the improvements from U.S. 40 west to SR 9 south to U.S. 52 although many motorist chose a more direct route to are county roads for north and south travel. The result was damage to county roads that required attention and repairs conducted by the Rush County Highway Department.

The most recent improvement projects came on the heals of a nearly two-year project in the city limits that was completed in the fall of 2011 on Main Street that included a new drainage system for Rushville residents.

INTAT announces local expansion

In early September we reported that INTAT Precision, Inc., Rushville President Tyler Usami and Vice President Brad Rist had announced exciting news for the Rushville operations and the employees that make up the operation.

INTAT’s parent, AISIN TAKAOKA CO., has authorized the expansion of the Rushville operation to include a third casting line at their Plant Two facility.

This represents, at a minimum, a $26 million investment that is targeted to begin and be completed in 2013.

With this expansion, projected new jobs created could be as high as 45.

“This is the result of the level of performance that has been achieved at the Rushville operation,” Rist said. “Our operation has really stepped up to meet several challenges the last few years, and through this recovery we have demonstrated a confidence internally that made the decision to expand here the best choice. We believe that this decision coincides with a spirit of good things to come to the Rushville community. We are excited to be a part of it.”

Rushville Mayor Mike Pavey was obviously pleased by the announcement.

“We could not be more happy for the INTAT family and what this means as a commitment to the future of INTAT within our community,” he said.

Concrete lion campaign launched

Throughout the summer and fall months, visitors and residents alike couldn’t help but notice a growing population of concrete lions appearing all over town.

Businesses and individuals purchased the statues in conjunction with a Heart of Rushville promotion to bring the community closer together and increase community pride.

A contest was held to paint the lions and winners in three categories (spirit of the lion project, people’s choice and artist’s award) were announced at the Fall Festival.

Rushville resident Brian Sheehan was one of the driving forces behind the project. When asked at the time why a lion was being featured in the effort, Sheehan noted that the lion has been the mascot of the local high school for nearly 100 years. He continued by saying that signs greeting visitors to Rushville read “Home of the Lions.”

Partners for Progress formed

In mid April we reported that long-held borders between the city of Rushville and Rush County were dissolving and a spirit of partnership was emerging with the formation of a new effort to work together for the progress of the entire area.

For generations, initiatives came from either city leaders or from county leaders, but rarely have new initiatives sought to break down barriers in thought and geography so completely as Partners for Progress.

A group of community representatives, from both the private and public sector, is working together for the purpose of envisioning and planning through identifying needs and opportunities and finding the assets to create positive solutions for all of us.

Air Evac leaves town

In mid February, nearly four years to the day after landing in Rush County, Missouri-based Air Evac, a flight ambulance service, announced it was vacating its Rushville base on the Rush Memorial Hospital campus.

The air ambulance service began operating locally during March, 2008 and made nearly 400 fights annually while servicing a nearly 70 mile radius encompassing the counties of Decatur, Fayette, Hancock, Henry, Shelby and Rush.

At the time of their departure, the company cited lack of community support of its membership-based company as a major factor. The company also cited the availability of other air ambulance services in this part of the state.

Chamber hired new leader

On April 24 we reported that Ryan Berkemeier, Rush County Chamber of Commerce president, announced that Sandy Fussner had been hired as the Chamber’s new Development Manager.

“It gives me a great deal of pleasure to announce that our board of directors has approved hiring Sandy Fussner to be our full-time Development Manager. We interviewed several very qualified people, but our Search Committee was convinced that Sandy was our top candidate. Not only that, but she’s already very well known in the community for her involvement in a variety of activities, and that really gives her a great advantage starting out,” Berkemeier said at the time.

Changes at ECDC

In late November, Terry Jobe, president of the Rush County Economic and Community Development Corporation (ECDC) Board of Directors, announced that Jim Finan, ECDC executive director, was leaving the organization.

Jobe said Finan had accepted a new opportunity as the manager of Economic and Business Development with Indiana & Michigan Power (a division of AEP) South Bend.

Finan’s last official day with the ECDC was Dec. 11.

“It is with sadness that we accept Jim’s resignation, but we congratulate him on this venture and wish him the very best. Jim has done an excellent job in moving this organization forward; he has built relationships that are advantageous to the growth of Rush County. The board has formed a search committee to begin the process of filling this position and will meet early next week. We do not want the momentum that has been created to slow down one bit. We have a very aggressive timeline to find the right person; we need to find someone locally that has the experience needed and in-depth knowledge and understanding of the area,” Jobe said.

“In the short-term, we are fortunate to have Carolyn Bunzendahl, ECDC Client Services Manager, on staff to keep moving our strategic plan forward. She has the background and experience to do that. Carolyn has been named Interim director, therefore we feel very comfortable that ECDC will not miss a beat during this search. If at all possible, we plan to have the new director on board by Feb. 1,” he continued.

The official job posting is available at, which includes a link to the full position description.

Personal contact with board members is discouraged as an interview process will be used to identify the successful candidate.

Resumes and questions should be directed to Terry Jobe at by including Rush County ECDC Executive Director in the subject line.

Resumes will be accepted through Jan. 7, 2013.

Changes in APC, EMA leadership

The Rush County Area Plan Commission saw a change in leadership when Kate (Singleton) Meyer replaced Bill Todd earlier this year. Because of health issues, Todd submitted his resignation in May.

Todd served as executive director of the APC since 1998 and introduced Kate Singleton Meyer as assistant area plan director.

Todd lost his battle with cancer Nov. 13,

Meyer graduated from Ball State University with a Urban Planning and Development degree in 2009.

Another change in leadership came about in late 2011 and had an impact throughout 2012.

Rushville firefighter Chuck Kemker was appointed EMA director in August 2011. Since that time he has juggled the two aforementioned jobs. That will come to a end with the arrival of 2013 when Kemker’s retirement from the RFD becomes effective.

Kemker has served the community as a fireman for 28 years and currently holds the rank of captain.

Kemker is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Hazardous Materials Technician, Fire/Arson Investigator and Instructor II/III. He is also the chairman of the Rush County Local Emergency Planning Committee and coordinates the Rush County CERT.  This is all in addition to his duties as EMA director.

- Rushville Republican