Veterans, active service personnel invited to AHS Veterans' Day program PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marty Randall   
Friday, 03 November 2017 12:41

 

 

Veterans and servicemen and women in Scott County are being honored at the annual Veterans' Day presented by students of Austin High School in the school auditorium on Friday, November 10.

Students under instructor Ryan Stuckwish are preparing the program.

On that Friday, veterans and visitors are asked to park on the east side of the high school/middle school and enter through main doors there. Auditorium doors will open at 12:30 p.m., and students will greet and register veterans to be recognized. The program will begin at 1 p.m.

Following the tribute, a dinner for veterans and family members will be served in the high school library.

All veterans and service personnel are invited to attend the program and meal.

Call Stuckwish at 812-794-8730 for more information.

 
Former Scottsburg businessman pleads guilty to eight theft charges PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marty Randall   
Friday, 03 November 2017 12:37

 

 

A guilty plea in a 2016 theft case has been entered by Robert “Rob” Cathcart Jr., a former Scottsburg businessman.

Cathcart and Company was a jewelry and coin business established by Cathcart’s parents. His father is now deceased, and his mother is residing in Kentucky. The shop was located in downtown Scottsburg.

The younger Cathcart had been operating the shop when charges were filed in June of that year accusing him of having accepted jewelry from seven individuals for repair and never returning the items.

In the case of the eighth customer, Cathcart reportedly entered into an agreement with the man to sell paintings, a coin collection, a Rolex watch and antique jewelry. Reportedly, only a percentage of what the items are worth was given to the customer, and none of the items have been returned to him.

Three of the charges are Level 6 felonies and are based on the higher value of several of the items. The remaining counts are misdemeanors.

Cathcart has been out on a $10,000 cash bond since July 22, 2016.

The defendant appeared with his attorney before Senior Judge Nicholas South on October 26 and entered the plea. Judge South set a restitution hearing for November 7 and the man’s sentencing hearing for November 27.

 
Thanksgiving Throwback Throwdown Featuring Austin-Scottsburg Alumni Game on Nov. 19 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marcus Amos   
Friday, 03 November 2017 12:34

 

 

Rivalries and basketball fever will come together for a good cause at the Scott County Youth Grantmaking Council’s third annual Thanksgiving Throwback Throwdown fundraiser! The Austin versus Scottsburg game will feature alumni from the schools battling for a coveted traveling trophy and bragging rights. Last year Austin men and women took home both trophies on Eagle ground.

The big event will be held Sunday, Nov. 19 at 5 p.m. at Meyer Gym in Scottsburg. Tickets are $3 for students and $5 for adults. Concessions will be available. National Youth Advocate Program is sponsoring the Turkey Shoot-Out contest in between the games, with a $100 cash prize.

The YGC is still seeking players for the games. Current players include: Austin women: Ellen (Gabbard) Roberts, Brittany Smith, Kelly Hollan, Ashley Dowling, Jessie Davidson and Kaitlin Embrey; Scottsburg women: Carla (Westmoreland) Zellers, Christie (Hutchinson) Rarick, Patty (Hutchinson) Clancy, Jennifer (Miller) Morris, Jennifer (Collins) Donohue, Jamie (Collins) Beverly, Tia Deaton, Courtney Means, Katie Burch and Taylor Means; Austin men: Matt Hunter, Jeremy Holland, Derek Eldridge, Tyler Petersen, Ben Raichel, Ty Winchester, Andrew Clark, Cody Lesnet, Dakota Staschke, Markus Fleenor, Duncan Wooten and Kenton Embrey; Scottsburg men: Eric Mullins, Monty Stutsman, James Colwell, Johnney Coomer, Allen Barnett, Dustin Marshall, Josh James, Tony Amick, Derek Coomer, Cameron Collins and Cameron Schmidt.

Youth Grantmaking Council member Avery Kendall will do the honors of singing the National Anthem before the games. Cheer teams are being organized again; Scottsburg cheerleaders should contact Jason Kendall or Jennifer Craig, while Austin cheerleaders should contact Brittany Banister. Plans are in the works for an alumni band. All alumni, whether or not they play in the game, will be honored during halftime. Fans are encouraged to use #alumniweek on social media to share photos from the past.

Sponsors are still needed to help make this a successful fundraiser. Last year’s event raised $4,400, and allowed the YGC to fully fund every grant request they received for youth projects in Scott County. The YGC invites the entire community to a fun night of Hoosier hysteria and witnessing the greats play again!

The YGC is a program of the Scott County Community Foundation, where youth learn about community service, leadership, teamwork, fundraising and grantmaking. This past year the YGC awarded $8,642 in grants for youth-related projects. Please contact Jaime Toppe at 812-752-2057 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for information, to sign up to play or sponsor the event.

 
Free curbside leaf pickups begin November 13 in Austin and Scottsburg PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marty Randall   
Friday, 03 November 2017 12:31

 

 

Property owners and residents in Austin and Scottsburg are being urged to prepare for free leaf pick-ups beginning on Monday, November 13, in both communities.

City crews and their vacuum trucks will make the rounds, collecting all leaves swept to the curb. Employees are not allowed on private property, so any leaves not at curbside cannot be picked up.

City officials are also asking residents to not co-mingle branches, yard waste and trash with leaves, either. Such items can cause equipment breakdowns and/or injure city employees. They also ask residents to get leaves out of ditches and off drain covers so that rainwater will flow properly.

Leaves should not be placed in bags. Bagged leaves will not be picked up by crews.

In Scottsburg, two street crews will start that day on the east side of Scottsburg and north of State Road 56 (McClain Avenue) and work their way north.

From Scott Memorial Hospital, the crews will work back down the west side of U.S. Highway 31 (Gardner Street), until they reach S.R. 56. From there, they will start on the south side of S.R. 56 and the west side of U.S. 31 to the Scott County Fairgrounds.

Reaching that destination, both trucks will then run together back up S.R. 56. This route will be worked two times, said Applegate.

In Austin, sanitation and street staff will cover every street in Austin using the normal trash pick-up schedule. The crew will work as long as leaves are falling, so everyone should have several opportunities to get rid of their leaves.

Anyone with questions about the Scottsburg plan is welcome to call the Scottsburg Mayor's Office at 812-752-3169.

Austin residents can call the Austin Mayor's Office at 812-794-6466 with their questions.

 

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LIT set at 0.75%.... Local Income Tax established by Tax Council; effective date is January 1, 2018 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Marty Randall   
Friday, 03 November 2017 12:29

 

 

A 0.75% Local Income Tax (LIT) was adopted on a 4-3 vote following a public hearing held Friday morning, October 27.

Those members of the Scott County Council who voted for the new tax included Council President Mike Zollman and Councilmen Iva Gasaway, Robert Peacock and Ab Watts. Councilmen Chris Albertson and Eric Gillespie, the only Republicans on the Council, were joined by Democrat Donnie Richie as opposing the establishment of the new LIT.

The County Council is a member of the Local Tax Council (LTC). So are the Austin and Scottsburg city councils. Voting weight is based on population, so the County Council has 54% of the vote. Consequently, the vote taken by the County Council, which handles the finances of the county, decided if the tax would be established and at what level.

The tax had been listed in the proposed resolution at a rate of 1.25% per salary income. Councilwoman Gasaway’s first action following the public hearing was to motion to lower the rate to 0.75%. That motion was quickly seconded by Councilman Peacock. That first vote reflected the final vote on the LIT-establishing ordinance, 4-3 - Zollman, Gasaway, Peacock and Watts vs. Albertson, Gillespie and Richie.

The new tax takes effect January 1, 2018. According to figures offered by H.J. Umbaugh and Associates, an Indianapolis-based accounting firm, those making $20,000 a year will pay a total of $150 tax; $30,000 income, $225 in new taxes; $44,442, $333; $60,000, $450; and $75,000, $563.

The rate will raise a little over $2 million for the county; nearly $778,000 for the City of Scottsburg; and $223,790 for the City of Austin.

Dollars for each entity are to be spent for public safety, according to the tax’s restrictions.

County officials realized they had a whopping problem as they tackled the job of wrestling with income and outgo in the 2018 budget. A proposed 3% pay raise for county employees was axed. Department heads and elected officials were asked to submit “honest” budgets, explained President Zollman. “What we mean by that is we asked them to present us with budgets based on what it would take only to operate their departments for the year and nothing more. I believe each of them did just that, and we are $1.9 million short of balancing,” he explained to the standing-room-only crowd attending the 9 a.m. hearing Friday.

Fewer tax dollars coming in is the basis for establishing a new tax. Property values have “flat-lined,” partially due to a sluggish local economy and partly because of the stigma which comes with being the first rural county in the nation to experience a severe outbreak of HIV.

At last count by the Indiana State Department of Health, the county has 227 individuals which have tested positively for HIV. Seventeen people have died, either from complications caused by HIV, which can develop into the far more serious and life-threatening AIDS, or from drug overdoses or other diseases. Illegal drug use and needle-sharing caused the first outbreak around Christmas, 2014. Sexual activity helped spread HIV.

On a positive note, at least 74% of those with HIV are now virus-suppressed, meaning that they can no longer spread HIV.

But the HIV taint has taken its toll.

People have moved away. New businesses have become harder to attract to Scott County. Health Department services needed a huge boost. The county jail became the primary place where people addicted to drugs go through withdrawal. The opening of a new jail facility made little or no difference because its beds were filled with people nearly immediately. To this day, the facility averages around 180 people per week, nearly twice the average the county once housed. A portion of that ballooning local jail population is a result of the Indiana Department of Corrections no longer accepting Level 6 felony offenders at state facilities.

Added to the fact that valuations have flat-lined and Scott County’s income from property taxes has been and will continue to be adversely affected by the 1-3% “circuit-breakers” put into effect by the state legislature, the county has lost $1.5 to $1.6 million in tax income over the past couple of years. “Circuit-breakers (limitations placed on what can be raised from properties through taxes) may be good for the property owner, but they are definitely not good for the county as a whole,” observed Zollman.

Questioners must also add the financial burden of providing a functioning 9-1-1 service. Because an inter-local agreement no longer exists between the county and the two cities, the county has taken on the entire burden of keeping the 9-1-1 Center open and operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In previous years, Scottsburg and Austin helped pay that bill. When Austin withdrew from the inter-local agreement because of a dispute over how much that city should be paying, that dissolved the agreement. A tax on telephones and cell phones is now the only income the service receives aside from county funds. 9-1-1 operators dispatch officers of all local law enforcement agencies as well as take calls for emergency services.

As several on the County Council have been heard to comment more than once, the need for more money for all of these services has caused “a perfect storm,” a financial situation of mounting proportions. Use of dollars from the county’s Hospital Reserve Fund has shrunk that fund’s total below $1 million. The money was used to help build the new jail facility, buy and remodel a building for the Health Department and meet the match needed for the money obtained through Indiana’s Community Crossings street and road paving program.

“Nobody here wants to see his or her taxes increased, but it’s come down to the fact that we either use the LIT to bring more dollars in or we start cutting services to the people and laying off workers,” Zollman told the audience. “The state took away a lot of the money it used to give the counties, but it gave us this tool to raise money locally. We have to use it.”

Councilman Gillespie offered a different viewpoint. “This is no different than operating your own household. If your income goes down, then you cut your expenses,” he explained. He also contended that the County Council will transfer over the operating budget of the Sheriff’s Department into the new LIT dollars available. When that happens, Gillespie said, the money freed up will be used to tear down the old administrative building and women’s jail and construct a new structure.

Zollman told the Council that he had approached the Board of County Commissioners at their October 25 meeting and requested the remainder of $2 million given to them for remodeling and renovating the current building be returned. Commissioners declined that request.

Gasaway stated, “I will not vote for this tax if it’s going to be used for a new jail.”

Councilman Albertson said he wanted the County Council to look at some cuts he thought could be made. “I was up to about $400,000 (in cuts) when the effort was abandoned,” he said. His suggestion was not acted upon.

With the November 1 budget deadline looming, the County Council as the LTC took its votes, and the tax was established at the 0.75% rate.

The money can be used for salaries and other expenses of departments dealing with public safety.

Austin Mayor Dillo Bush offered his hopes that the new dollars could go toward bolstering pay and benefits for the community’s policemen. “We have a problem of losing good officers because they are attracted to other communities with better benefits and salaries,” Bush explained.

He said he also planned to look into if the money could be used to pay for more street lighting and, possibly, animal control.

Scottsburg Mayor Bill Graham said Scott County has been affected by circumstances since the 2008 economic downturn as much as Scottsburg. “Those circuit-breakers went into effect at the same time our economy tanked. It really hit us hard,” he stated. The new LIT dollars will help to make up some of that revenue loss.

Scottsburg Councilman John Konkler added, “Most people only see our fire department equipment in parades. We need to figure out how to afford new equipment there. I am proud to work and live in Scott County, and I am proud of the citizens we have. I am a taxpayer, too, and I don’t like the increase, but we have to operate this community and protect our people.”

Following the final deciding vote on the matter, the County Council recessed and went back into session at 3 p.m. that afternoon to address documents that needed to be signed. Noted Councilman Peacock, “We had to have a good, working budget and that’s why I voted for it. In January, we’ll start looking ahead at the 2019 budget to see what can be changed.”

 

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