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May 30, 2013

First time school to receive prestigious state award

Mary Mattingly

South Ripley Jr. High students and staff gather with Principal Rod Hite and Supt. Rob Moorhead to show off the new banner

South Ripley Junior High School was named a Four Star School for 2013. It's the first time a South Ripley school has been awarded the special state recognition.

South Ripley is one of 313 Indiana schools which received the award out of some 2000. In order to achieve this designation, a school must be in the top 25th percentile of schools in ISTEP+ testing results. The junior high's combined ISTEP+ 7th grade scores for English and Math were 175.8 percent; the top 25 percent minimum was 169.5 and the average in the state was 148 percent. The school's 8th grade combined scores were also high, at 173.5 percent, where the top 25 percent minimum was 167.8, and the state average was 153 . Administrators also noted that South Ripley Jr. High was also the only junior high school recipient with a greater than 50 percent or more "at risk" population. The school is at 53 percent, meaning that's the percentage who receive free or reduced lunches.

Indiana Superintendent Glenda Ritz congratulated the Four Star Schools. "I am honored to name these schools as our Four Star Schools for this year," said Ritz. "Winning this award required excellent work by teachers, administrators, students and parents throughout the year and on behalf of the entire Indiana Department of Education I send them my sincere congratulations."

The notice from the state school superintendent was welcome news at the end of the year. Principal Rod Hite was thrilled with the honor, and threw a pizza and ice cream party for the students. On the last day of school May 23 he and the superintendent showed off the new banner touting their success during the character education convocation. A cookout with the staff was held prior to the school board meeting May 20, to celebrate their success.

While applauding the students and staff, Hite said it couldn't have been achieved without the strong preparation from the elementary school. He also commended the students, the staff, parents and school board. "Three years ago we looked at where we're going, and thought it was best to do grade level team teaching, even department team teaching. We looked at what the elementary had done and what worked," Hite said. Increased individual attention to the students, through remediation, tutoring and team teaching, was a catalyst for the higher ISTEP scores.

Other 2013 Four Star schools in the area include: Sunman Dearborn Middle School, Oldenburg Academy and Batesville Primary, Intermediate, Middle and High Schools. It's the first time for SDMS, and the second time in a row for Batesville to have all four buildings recognized. Only 17 other school corporations in the state had elementary, middle and high school buildings awarded. Oldenburg Academy is also a repeat Four Star award winner.

While the status does not come with any monetary award, it brings prestige to the corporation and building. That is important since the state opened up transfer tuition policies, and schools are more often competing for students. There has been a downward student population trend in the past few years at South Ripley. This school year they had 160 enrolled, 180 last year, down from 210 three years ago. As Supt. Rob Moorhead said, "In this day of competition for students the Four Star status is important. Students can choose to go where they want, so to get that recognition and prestige is important to us."

Moorhead acknowledged the principal's role though as well. "I give credit to the principal and the leadership he provides. He's a great motivator and a data driven principal. He holds his staff accountable." Hite is in his third year as principal at the junior high, having come from North Decatur Jr. Sr. High where he was assistant principal. "It's also gratifying to the teachers and students to be rewarded for their hard work," Moorhead added.

Hite said they will hang the banner in the junior high gym, a visible spot to highlight their success. at 1-800-REDCROSS, or the Salvation Army number:s 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769.)

SR Jr. High: A Four Star School!

Commissioners and sheriff at odds

Cindy Ward
Staff Writer

Bickering between the Ripley County Sheriff's Office and Ripley County Commissioners continues.

Major David Pippin and deputies Paul Wells and Bill McDonald represented the sheriff's office in place of sheriff Tom Grills at the commissioner's meeting on Monday, May 13. Grills was on a transport and unable to attend; however, he sent a letter with Pippin to present to commissioners in response to a statement made by commissioner Rob Reiners at the April 29 commissioner's meeting where he said commissioners did not approach county council to request a lower budget for the sheriff's office.

Reiner's statement came following a public statement from Grills where he accused commissioners of cutting costs to the sheriff's office. The letter was not discussed by commissioners during the meeting, but a copy was presented to Ripley Publishing Company, Inc.

In response to Reiners, Grills explained that his use of the word "cost" was not in reference to a "financial impact," but rather an "impact to the community." He went on to say that decisions made recently by commissioners "have placed the employees of the sheriff's office and citizens of this county in a poor situation" by cutting costs to "public safety." Grills explained his definition of the term "costs" can be referred to as a decrease in benefits rightfully owed to employees of his office at the time of their hire, such as "personal use of cars, potential insurance coverage and secondary employment offered at a cost to wear a uniform and complete tasks nobody else wants to do."

Grills said in the letter that "it is hard to justify your (commissioners) expenditures, especially for the new annex and courthouse remodel, and then try explaining to me you are not restricting resources for our office when we are severely understaffed, and lack the ability to pay for proper equipment and supplies to protect the public, or solve the crimes they were victim of."

He said he would like to work with commissioners and invited them to contact him to make arrangements to "sit down and discuss issues" rather than bring them up in a public meeting. It was agreed by commissioners at the previous meeting to put the sheriff's office on the agenda for 9 a.m. at all future meetings.

Grills' letter also requested the transfer of money collected from Northern Clearing for the pipeline escort detail to be moved into the sheriff's office insurance line item and garage and motors account to pay for "costs incurred during the escorts."

Jail, EMS, etc.

Wells informed commissioners the installation of lights in the jail's stairways is complete. He also presented estimates to replace/repair locks on jail doors. The estimate to rebuild the locking system is around $480 and the cost to retrofit the door on cell block 12 is around $890. Commissioners granted approval for repairs.

Wells also reported problems with the HVAC on the roof of the jail and updates discussed at a prior meeting needing resolved. Reiners told Wells this will be considered when preparing the 2014 budget.

The 911 and transport part of EMS has exceeded 500 runs this year, according to Jim Corbin, EMS director. He will update commissioners at a later date on revenue received. Also, commissioners granted Corbin's request for permission to apply to attend the National Fire Academy training in Maryland at no cost to the county.

Shawna Bushhorn complained about certified mail with consents to transfer for the Inheritance Tax Returns coming to her from the clerk's office. Bushhorn said it is a waste of taxpayer's money to use certified mail to send something that could be hand-delivered. Clerk Mary Ann McCoy was asked why this is being done. Her response was to ensure they are received, adding that other departments do the same thing between departments. Commissioners instructed auditor Wagner to contact all offices and departments informing them to hand-deliver all interoffice mail from now on when possible.

Shannon Schmaltz with the probation department requested permission to hire Town Marshall Joe Mann part-time to oversee the Saturday probation program. The request was approved. Schmaltz also said the drug program that recently started is working out well. So far,10 out of 10 participants have participated and paid fees.

Cables; health position

Ellen Beiersdorfer of Enhanced Telecommunications Company (ETC) came before commissioners to request permission to use the county right-of-way for 700-800 feet in the Holton area, just before they reach the right-of-way regulated by the state. Under advisement from county attorney John Ertel, Reiners requested an agreement from ETC holding the county harmless should damage to the cables occur as the result of necessary maintenance by the highway department, such as installing signs.

The health department will need part-time help for inspections for the upcoming building season. Tony Schneider presented a copy of a job description and requested approval to seek a candidate. The position will pay $10.84 per hour. He was advised to post the position from within first prior to seeking applications from the general public.

Representatives of Laughery Valley Co-Op discussed their oil products with the hope of gaining business from Ripley County. Commissioners agreed to allow Laughery Valley Co-Op to test the Texas Refinery drum oil currently being used by the highway department. The testing will be at no cost and Laughery Valley Co-Op assured complete backing of their product should there ever be a failure. Due to the newer trucks requiring a different type of oil, commissioners agreed to purchase the oil for them from the co-op.

Voting precinct changes
Clerk McCoy told commissioners she had submitted an application to the state to combine the following election precinct boundaries: Laughery 1-1 and 1-2 into Laughery 1-1 and Laughery 3-1 and 3-2 into Laughery 3-1. She informed commissioners that once state approval is received, commissioners would need to approve the change, adding the voting location would remain the same.

McCoy also reported problems with charging the voting machines, adding the batteries need replacing or repaired to enable a full charge. She also mentioned the possibility of seeking voting centers at a later date.

Other business conducted included:

• Shanna Joseph of the Parks Department presented commissioners a list of those selected for part-time summer positions for their approval. Commissioners unanimously approved the list.

• Jason Smith with state EMS praised first responders, EMTs, ambulance personnel and the sheriff's department on how well they worked together on a call he had assisted on in Ripley County. Commissioners thanked him for coming in.

• It was determined core samples are needed on Bridge No. 112 to determine necessary repairs. A recent inspection by USI determined some deterioration issues. The ton limit has been lowered to five from ten. The bridge was constructed in 1890.

• Commissioners granted the highway department foreman permission to contact an individual he has in mind for a vacant position to see if there is any interest.

• Recorder Ginger Bradford was given permission to investigate and apply for grants to purchase a new scanner. Bradford said prices range from $16,000 to $20,000. Once purchased, all offices would have access to it.

• Johnnie Lohrum, maintenance supervisor, presented the commissioners with quotes for $1,910 and $390 he obtained to add receptacles in the clerk's office and to repair a generator in the EMS building. Commissioners unanimously approved the repairs.

• Commissioners unanimously approved a quote presented to them by Kelly Vollet, for $497 from Boyer Technologies to move a fax line in the prosecutor's office.

• Patrick Rose with EMA presented commissioners with paperwork to sign for the Continuation of Operation for the county.

• Ordinance 2013-06 was signed establishing Ripley County as a drug-free workplace.

• A request from Glenwood Electric for additional payments of $1,957 for delays on the parking lot that kept them from completing work on the site lighting until later was rejected.

• A request from the Versailles Lions Club to use the courthouse lawn and restrooms for their annual Chicken BBQ on June 22 was presented and approved.

• Commissioners declined a request from Lori England of Sam's Club to renew memberships for county employees.

To read these and more articles pick up a copy of The Versailles Republican at your local store or subscribe by clicking on the link above or by calling 812-689-6364.
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