Merit Board to decide suspended deputy’s pay
Mary Mattingly

Whether Chief Deputy Joe “David” Pippin will be paid while suspended from his position will up to the Merit Review Board. Initially, Sheriff Thomas Grills said Pippin was put on paid leave, pending a review, after he learned of the charges Dec. 18. Pippin is charged with acquiring a controlled substance by deceit. Investigators said he was “doctor shopping” and went to five different doctors for prescriptions, while he already had the pain-killer prescription; however, according to the county employee handbook policy under “Commission of a Felony or Unlawful Act” any employee found guilty of a felony will be subject to immediate dismissal. An employee charged with a felony or found participating in felonious activity either during work hours or while off duty will be subject to an unpaid leave of absence from work until a court of law establishes innocence or guilt.

The County Commissioners informed Pippin by certified mail late last week, and it was received and signed by a resident of the household.  The commissioners informed Pippin that he would be placed on unpaid leave based on no information from the Merit Board regarding a suspension.  Payroll checks for Pippin were stopped for any days following his last day of work; however, Pippin would be permitted to use and/or receive any accrued comp time and vacation pay, and the county would continue to pay the county sponsored portion of health insurance benefits.  Also, Pippin could use any accrued sick days if it was verified that he was under doctor’s care or in treatment.”

Grills has requested a hearing by the Merit Review Board, but no date has been scheduled yet. Grills explained that he can suspend an employee for up to 15 days without a hearing. An employee must be given 14-day notice of the hearing.

The merit board is made up of Larry Eaton, Paul Hildebrand, Tracy Lemon, Cynthia Melton, and Kenny Copeland. Hildebrand is president and agrees with Grills that the Supreme Court ruling (Cleveland vs. Loudermill) would trump a county policy. County Attorney John Ertel also agrees, but he said since there was no hearing or decision from the Merit Board that he believes it was most prudent to follow the county handbook. “My recommendation to the commissioners was to err on the side of caution by not making payments to an employee on leave of absence and not working, especially when it is taxpayer dollars funded.”

At the hearing, Pippin’s supervisor (the sheriff), will gather and present the facts regarding the charges. It is the Board’s decision to take any disciplinary action and whether he will be paid or not while on leave. The board acts as a jury and they appoint a judge. Decision is made by majority rule. The hearing would include witnesses, and Pippin can request a continuance of five days. The Merit Board meetings are open to the public.

Grills was advised by his attorney A. Howard Williams with the Indiana Sheriff’s Association. Grills commented in a statement released Friday that “The Supreme Court dictated this, and deputies are subject to the Merit Board and merit rules, not necessarily county policy. From the advice of my attorney, I am following that. If the county wants to do something different, they are subject to being sued for this, not me.”


2013 Year in Review Headline
The last six months

The Year in Review was compiled by contributing writers Hannah Carlock and Sandy Day Howard. Ripley Publishing is taking a look back at 2013 and the headlines in the past six months. See December 31 Osgood Journal for the first six months review.


4 Fourteen contestants compete for county queen; mock shooter drill at South Ripley school; Dave Porter, former JCD coach and Hall of Famer, dies.

9 Samantha Hansen celebration is Saturday; Milan School’s Dr. Thomas Reale attends last board meeting as superintendent; Osgood library prepares to celebrate 100 years

11 Ripley County housing market improving; farmers impacted by rainfall in last 20 days.

15 EMS squads look at nine different options to maintain operations; Katelyn Huffman named 2013 Ripley County queen.

18 Versailles School Resource Officer resigns; police investigate accidental shooting in Sunman.

20 JCD has new gym floor.

22 First time NMLRA re-claims land on shooting range and removes lead; fewer SR students mean less revenue from state.

27 Livestock auction brings in $111,000; parole visit puts Holton pair in jail.


1 Samantha Hansen, one of the three teens from South Ripley killed in the two vehicle accident in the spring, was a 10 year 4-H member. Hansen’s cow was brought to the auction ring by her two sisters, and the cow went for over $11,000. The total amount will go to the Samantha Hansen Memorial Scholarship.

6 Jac-Cen-Del Superintendent Dr. Leanna Phillippe is the first female in Ripley County to become a school superintendent. Health care reform changes reviewed; changes in the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act were discussed at the July 22 meeting of the Ripley County Commissioners.

15 Governor Mike Pence reported, when visiting Ripley County, that the state’s progress has faster job growth than 42 other states. Indiana has led the nation in manufacturing jobs three months running and has been cited by a couple of business magazines as a top 10 place to do business in the U.S.

20 The Ripley County Council is reviewing the 2014 budget, and is preparing to submit to the state the county’s fiscal needs. For the first time in many years, they won’t have a balanced budget; home burglary in Cross Plains.

22 Gift of semis builds career center program. Cummins Inc. and Crum Trucking, Inc. each gave a semi to be used in the diesel engine program. These trucks will replace two 1979 trucks giving the students a better opportunity at the Southeastern Career Center.

27 Members of the four rescue squads in Ripley County approached the county council to inform the council that each squad is operating in the red, with a total loss at $240,000. Seventy-two tri-state World War II veterans were taken on an honor flight to Washington DC. Army veteran Mary Gargano, 88, of Milan was on that flight.


5 Athlete, coach, dad, teacher and now the new principal of South Ripley High School, Dr. David Wintin is up for the challenge; budget cuts from the federal sequester mean fewer students at local Head Start.

10 Ripley County has a new coroner. Lauren Thielking, 23, was sworn into office. Thielking served as deputy under former coroner Ron Buchanan for a year; more women filling jails. The number of women in Indiana prisons increased 61 percent. As of August 14, the Ripley County Jail in Versailles had 17 female inmates, one in for a murder charge, and has seen a slight increase in females arrested over the past year; Osgood Bilby tower to be dedicated.

12 Rescue 30 EMT Danny Baas' son had his foot 98 percent amputated by a mower blade on Memorial Day. This benefit will help pay the medical cost .

17 A lawsuit has been filed against the Versailles State Park manager, a state park employee, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and the Indiana Natural Resource Commission for placing a trap in the Versailles State Park that killed a Ripley County woman’s dog. It’s no secret that Ripley County and surrounding areas have a drug problem. Dearborn County Citizens Against Substance Abuse, Ripley County LCC, One Community One Family, and Indiana Youth Institute are joining forces and bringing in a speaker to speak on the drug problem at hand.

19 The Tyson Fund, giving over $586,000 to various entities, celebrated James Tyson’s 157th birthday; Cooper Wade and Christine Lamar were crowned Homecoming King and Queen for Milan High School.

24 The Indiana Department of Education released preliminary statewide, corporation and school level ISTEP+ scores, and three of the four Ripley County schools fared better than the state average in students passing both sections. South Ripley Schools ranked 22 in the state among non-charter public schools also making South Ripley Junior High a Four Star School; the State Board of Accounts is investigating the sheriff’s office for an outstanding cash balance, but it is believed to be a clerical error; new sidewalks, street signs for Osgood

26 Two students from South Dearborn High School were crowned Pumpkin Show Royalty: King Kerry Raab and Queen Tara West.


1 The weather for the Pumpkin Show was major, shining bright four out of the five days. The parade had 115 floats. The biggest pumpkin weighed in at 775 pounds. Jacob Stenger from Batesville Primary won Pumpkin Show Prince and South Ripley student Kaysha Walker was crowned princess; Amish man killed in buggy accident in Ripley County.

3 This was the 25th year for the Bluegrass Festival to be held at the Versailles State Park, but it is also the last time that the festival will be held at the park. The festival will be held next year at the Old Mill Campground in Friendship.

8 The federal shutdown occurred because Congress can’t agree on a spending bill and the government does not have the legal authority to spend money. Local government employees are off work until legislators settle.; local family shares experience with teen drug abuse; Keith Swinney of Holton to be inducted into Southeastern Indiana Musicians Hall of Fame, and Denver Burdette of Sunman also to be inducted.

10 Milan Elementary School was the recipient of the $1000 Walmart teacher rewards program; Career Center looking for funds to expand.

15 Jac-Cen-Del Eagle Boys Soccer Team is the first soccer team ever to take home the title of ORVC conference champions and IHSAA Sectional Championship all in the same season; Milan schools preparing to put laptops in hands of students.

17 The old oak tree on SR 101 near Stumpke’s Corner died and became a safety and liability for Southeastern Indiana REMC. The tree has now been removed by REMC; secretary of state gives advice on financing to South Ripley students.

22 One of the suspects being charged in the murder case of Nancy Hershman is having a hearing to determine whether he will be tried in adult court. The teen is 15 and two mental health professionals recommended the case stay in juvenile court.

29 Bill McDonald, jail commander for Ripley County, had a statement prepared when it came time to vote on the budget. “I will excuse myself from the balance of this meeting, as you will be voting on the county budget, which contains provisions, which affect my employment as jail commander of the county jail,” McDonald said the budget failed to address some of the safety, security and personnel issues of the jail.


5 Judge Jon Webster ruled on a court case involving the Sunman Clerk Treasurer. The Ripley County Democrats gathered for their annual dinner at the Sherman House.

7 Three local schools were among the recipients of a $9 million state grant for the Secured School Safety Grant Program to make schools safer. This gives schools the money to employ a resource office. For the first time, South Ripley High School will have a swim team for the 2013-2014 school year.

Teen waived to adult court for murder. Daniel A. Hodge, who was 15 at the time of the crime, is going to adult court after a request from the state. Hodge will face up to 65 years in prison for the murder of a Milan woman.

19 Sunman Clerk Treasurer Kristina Schneider will be removed from office after pleading guilty to official misconduct charges for misuse of the town credit card. Her charge was reduced from a Class D felony to a Class A misdemeanor. Indiana Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann visited the Southeastern Career Center and the Milan ’54 Hoosiers Museum.

26 The 1,239 miles of steel pipeline that starts in Washington County, Pennsylvania and goes to Seymour, Indiana to connect to an already existing pipeline will transport ethane natural gas liquid to Texas for plastic production. This pipeline has left its mark on Ripley County. The pipeline crosses 119 tracts in Ripley County.

28 Chelsea Eckstein was sworn in as the new Sunman town clerk treasurer.


3 Jac-Cen-Del Eagles accept presentation of the Ripley Publishing Co. Inc. traveling “Pride Trophy." Corn yields ‘good,’ but market prices down. The 2013 corn harvest will achieve a new record of 13.99 billion bushels; however, corn prices are projected at $4.10-$4.90 per bushel, the lowest in three years. Ron Decker, 51, received the majority vote from the six precinct committee members for the vacant county council seat.

5 State Sen. Johnny Nugent will not be seeking re-election to Senate District 43 in 2014.

10 The first major snowstorm of the season came early, but the town, county and state road crews were ready. All 14 trucks were out by 5 a.m. to cover about 720 miles of road.

17 The Lohrum light display on US 421 in Osgood became a hot spot for vehicles to slow down to view the splendor of the holiday season. The Lohrum’s pulled the plug on the light display to help with safety reasons.

19 Ripley County Prosecuting Attorney Ric Hertel charged Chief Deputy Sheriff Joe “David” Pippin with six counts of Acquiring a Controlled Substance by Deceit, a Class D felony; long-time Ripley County Sheriff’s Deputy and SRHS sports traffic controller Jimmy Hyatt was honored at the South Ripley High School basketball game.

24 Dave Pippin will be placed on administrative leave, pending an internal review. Pippin posted the $1,050 bond and is out of jail. Johnnie and Josh Lohrum met with law officials and decided to turn back on the 60,000 light display.

26 Judge says no to change of venue for Allison Moore murder trial. She is charged with murder of Nancy Hershman. Council hears about EMS budgeting problems.

31 Indiana’s school grades have been released, and seven Ripley County schools earned ‘A’s.’ Locally, Jac-Cen-Del Elementary jumped two letter grades, from a C to an A. The middle and high school dropped from a B in 2012 to a C in 2013. South Ripley Elementary and SR Junior High continued with it’s A status, and the high school earned a B again


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