Updated November 5, 2013 at 2 p.m.

Tickets also at JayC Food Store in Osgood and Milan
Chance to win big at Taste of Home

The Taste of Home Cooking School, American’s leading cooking school program, promises to not only inspire bakers and home chefs, but it’s also a chance for people to walk away with some valuable prizes.

Cooking School Door Prizes
The response from the popular cooking school two years ago in Versailles was so positive that Ripley Publishing Co. wanted to partner again with the Taste of Home Cooking School to bring it back to southern Ripley County . The cooking school program with demonstrations by a culinary specialist is presented throughout the country to over 300,000 guests at some 300 events.

Linda Chandler, publisher of Ripley Publishing, is pleased with the local business support, and excited about what will be offered to ticket-goers on Thursday, Nov. 14 at South Ripley Elementary. “We have great prizes, great sponsorship and wonderful participation. People who will come will not be disappointed! It is well-worth the $10 ticket!” she said.

Major sponsors include Southeastern Indiana REMC, Friendship State Bank, JayC Food Store, Decatur County Memorial Hospital, Tom Tepe Autocenter, Four Seasons Stove Shoppe, King’s Daughter Health, Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, and Serendipity's Specialty Food.

Buy tickets in person or online

New this year, tickets are not only available at the newspaper office on Washington Street in Versailles, and online at ripleynews.com, but also at JayC Food Store in Osgood and Milan.

Door prizes
As for the door prizes, there’s an assortment ranging from kitchen helpers to beauty products. For example, there’s a KitchenAid mixer, valued at $300; six $50 Jay C Food gift cards; a 15-piece Paula Deen cookware set from Indiana Farm Bureau; a KitchenAid toaster oven, donated by Pleaks Hardware; and the grand prize, a large 8.8 cubic foot chest freezer, from SE Ind. REMC.

Something many women also enjoy as a gift for themselves or other is a massage, pedicure and shellac nail treatment from Odyssey Salon, which will be given away to one lucky person at the cooking school. There will be several drawings for gift certificates and gift baskets. Chandler noted that everyone over 18 who buys a ticket is eligible to win a prize.

Gift bag
All ticket holders will walk away with something other than recipes and cooking tips. Each person will get a gift bag, filled with coupons, kitchen gadgets, recipes, and much more. There’s a free McDonald’s premium McWrap card, a $50 gift card from nakedwine.com, even a 75 watt energy efficient lightbulb from SE Ind. REMC. “I don’t want to reveal everything in it because it’s fun to be surprised, but I’m sure people will be tickled with their goodie bag contents,” Chandler said.

She encourages ticket holders to come early to get a seat. The VIP seating has already sold out. Doors open at 5 p.m., in plenty of time before the 7 p.m. show to peruse the 20 plus booths from area merchants. There are a variety of booths including Tupperware and Avon, VitaCraft Waterless Cookware, Usborne Books, Scentsy Candles, and Thirty-one Purses to name a few. The hospitals and banks will have information booths as well, CVS will offer flu shots, and there will be a chance to win more door prizes from the booth participants.

Food, drink and dessert
Come hungry, Chandler says, because the Dabney Baptist Church is offering pork barbecue and chicken salad sandwiches, and a variety of pies and drinks. There are also cupcake samples from Britt’s Baby Cakes in Osgood, plus Tri Kappa’s famous cheeseballs. Tables will be set up for those who want to dine there. In addition, Taste of Home cookbooks will be on sale to for $20.

“Don’t miss out! It’s a great night out to be entertained and inspired for fall and cooking,” Chandler added.

Buy tickets at JayC
Tickets can be purchased at Jay C Food Stores in Osgood and Milan, and Ripley Publishing’s office in person, by phone and/or credit card, or online at ripleynews.com.

Cookbook and magazine
When you purchase the Best Loved Recipe Cookbook, you will also receive a free one-year subscription to the Taste of Home magazine. The book and subscription are valued at over $55, but at the show or at the newspaper office you can purchase it for $20.

Don’t miss the special section about the Taste of Home Cooking School in Thursday’s newspaper.

No ruling on removal of office
Judge drops felony charge for clerk

Mary Mattingly

Sunman Clerk Treasurer Kris Schneider will not be sent to jail for misuse of the town credit card, nor will she have a felony charge on her record. Whether she stays in the elected office remains unclear.

The visiting judge ruled Friday to drop the Official Misconduct Class D felony charge to a Class A misdemeanor. Judge Jon Webster of Jennings County Circuit Court, considered the mitigating and aggravating factors, before announcing his sentence Friday in Ripley Superior Court.

With the felony charge, Schneider could face from six months to three years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. The judge chose to enter the conviction as a Class A misdemeanor with one year of reporting probation.

She had made full restitution prior to her arrest in December 2012, when she was confronted by the findings of the State Board of Accounts in their audit. Schneider, who has been the town clerk for 23 years, had used the town’s credit card for personal purchases at Wal-mart from 2009-2011, amounting to $3600.

The hearing lasted about 90 minutes, and included two witnesses from the defense, plus Schneider testifying herself, and one witness from the state.

Judge Jim Morris had recused himself from the hearing and a visiting judge was obtained. The hearing had been rescheduled from the previous week due to a jury trial the judge was overseeing, and Webster apologized for the inconvenience to those in the courtroom.

One of Schneider’s three adult children was in the bench pews, as were several friends and supporters. Her husband could not come because he was recovering from surgery, she informed the judge. There were also two citizens present, who have been vocal at council meetings about removing Schneider from office since this charge. Ginger Bradford, Ripley County Republican chairperson, and Mark Horstman, Ripley County Council member, were also there, as was Sunman’s town lawyer, Amy Streator.

Schneider retained Robert Ewbank of Lawrenceburg as her defense attorney. His first witness was Sunman Town Council President Wayne Jenner. Jenner said he’s known the defendant for 25 years.

He became aware of the credit card discrepancy through a regular scheduled state board audit, and did not think “it was a criminal issue” at the time,” he said. He spoke of Schneider’s character and said she was very hard working, has helped improve the town, and goes “over and above” her role. When asked if she could continue in her role as town clerk, Jenner said, “I have no reason to believe there was true malice, but just bad judgment on her part. She does a fantastic job for the town,” he said, adding that he’d like to see the charge reduced to a Class A misdemeanor.

Prosecutor Ric Hertel questioned Jenner about whether or not taking something that wasn’t yours should be considered criminal, “I thought it was poor judgment. I think she had the card and meant to repay it and overlooked it,” Jenner replied.
Hertel noted she used the town’s card 17 different times to purchase personal items: eight times in 2009, seven times in 2010 and twice in 2011. He commented that Sunman’s citizens are the victims as a result.

Hertel also entered a 42-signature petition seeking her removal from office as an exhibit for the state.

Ewbank questioned the validity of the petition, stating some addresses were not from the town of Sunman, and not an accurate representation of the 850 estimated population of the town. He also later brought up that some citizens were “bullied” into signing it.
Hertel questioned if Jenner and the three member council (council member Harvey Dobson was in the audience but Jared Wolf was not because of work) typically consider citizens’ input. Jenner replied yes, but this issue was beyond the council’s control. The clerk is an elected position.

Ewbank called Schneider to testify. He wanted the judge to hear that she has been an active citizen, valuable public servant, church-goer, caregiver to her family, and remorseful from these actions. Schneider has been on several community board of directors, and has not been asked to drop from any of those. She did say the Sunman Chamber of Commerce asked her to not be a board member during these proceedings, but to remain active.

It was brought up that she has missed just two meetings in her 23 years as clerk, and two days of work. There have been no complaints filed against her in that time. Upon further questioning, she admitted she was surprised at the animosity of some citizens toward her, and noted an older couple approached her in tears saying they wanted to recant their signature on the petition because they were misled by the petitioner.

The issue has been stressful for the town clerk, she acknowledged.

She then read a prepared statement apologizing to the court, citizens and family and friends “for the circumstances that bring me here today. I have served the town of Sunman faithfully for 23 years, truly love my job and care deeply about the people, projects and programs that we have created. My mishandling of the credit account was unprofessional. This past year has taken its toll on me both physically and emotionally.” She again thanked her loyal friends, the council and family for support.

Upon questioning, she told the court if she was removed from office she would likely work in her family’s mowing business.
Hertel asked her about handling the money that comes into the office, which she said is about $3,000 a week. She said during this time no one commented to her a concern for her to handle the town’s money.

Gary Norman, Ripley County economic development executive director, was called as a character witness for Schneider. He said she had mentored him when he was elected clerk at Osgood. She is an active member on his economic development board, and he would like her to continue on it. Ewbank noted jail or probation sentencing comes with the intent to rehabilitate, but Norman said he didn’t see any use or need for rehabilitation for Schneider, and continue to laud her character and work ethic.

The state called one witness, Neil Bowers of Western Avenue in Sunman. He has attended the council meetings as of June, and signed the petition to remove her from office. He has often brought up the issue at the council meetings since the charges became public in 2012. No one wants prison time for her, Bowers said, but people are concerned about her handling the taxpayer’s money. He would not divulge who authored the petition, and agreed it represented a small percentage of the town.

In closing, Hertel said he met with examiners from the State Board of Accounts, and heard from residents, and believed a 1 ½ year term of probation would be appropriate, with an ability for her to earn a misdemeanor upon successful completion of probation. He too did not think jail time would be appropriate. However, Hertel did request her removal from public office citing an Indiana code that sets forth that removal of office is mandated whether it’s a misdemeanor or felony conviction.

Ewbank reiterated his client’s remorse and that there was no sense for rehabilitation, and cited how forthright she is, that she is a caregiver and good citizen. As for holding office with a conviction, he said the 2008 statute does not apply because she is an office “holdover” and has not been elected since 1992 because she did not face opposition. Her name has not been on the ballot since then.

In his sentencing, Webster commented that he considered mitigating factors, such as no prior history, full restitution made and her plea of guilty, therefore, saving taxpayer time and money for a trial. But she did violate the public trust and 42 signatures were considered, Webster added. He then ruled to file it as a misdemeanor.

The judge said he would send his sentencing order to the appropriate organization or persons to consider if it applies for removal from office. He wasn’t sure who that would be and believes it would become a civil matter.

Pick up this week's edition of the Osgood Journal for the stories below and more local news. Subscribe by clicking the subscribe link or call 812-689-6364.

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