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The Versailles Republican

September 18, 2014 • Headlines

Many Tyson church members, such as Gene Cofield, helped during the Tyson Community Festival on Sunday.
They had dinners and various foods offered.

Andrew Wolf, representative of Crossroad Engineers talks about specific routes of the
proposed Connectivity Plan [Safe Routes to School] during the recent focus group and open house.

South Ripley Young Confederates performed during the afternoon program of the Tyson Community Festival Sunday.
The group is getting ready to go to Florida for a competition.

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Tyson ‘keeps on giving’
Over $500,000 awarded in grants from Tyson Fund

Mary Mattingly

It was Uncle Jim Tyson’s 168th birthday party, but it was the guests who went home with gifts. The Tyson Fund was established by James H. Tyson (affectionately called “Uncle Jim”) in 1930 to benefit his hometown of Versailles. Since it was created, approximately $9.5 million dollars has been given to Versailles schools, churches, the town and services, the library and various organizations, on Sept. 14, Jim Tyson’s birthday.

Tyson Fund grants
Charley Cozart with Southern Ripley County EMS Rescue receives the Tyson Fund grant Monday during the annual Tyson Fund meeting. Natalie Gilpin, president of the board of trustees, presented 11 checks to various Versailles organizations.

This year, since his birthday fell on a Sunday, the awards were announced on Monday at the Tyson Library around 7 p.m. About 65 people attended the celebration to receive their award, to thank the board, and to honor the man who so loved his hometown that he left a generous legacy so its citizens would not be burdened.

“The Tyson Library and Tyson Church are both generous gifts of Uncle Jim and that’s whose birthday we are celebrating tonight,” Susan Underwood, Tyson Fund trustee told the audience seated in the lower level of the library which was built with Tyson funds. “We are very fortunate we have this beautiful facility in our community. It’s only one of three private libraries in the state. Education was very important to Uncle Jim, and every day there are children and adults that come for that purpose to this library.” Tyson Library Director Andy Rowden also spoke. “The public library is dedicated to service and that’s what James Tyson was dedicated to. He gave his money and time to this community, to give back to Versailles for everything that Versailles did for him…It’s this legacy that continues today that helps many of the services we have in our community, one of course being the library.”

Natalie Gilpin, president of the trust board, facilitated the annual meeting. She mentioned the South Ripley 4th, 5th and 6th graders toured the Tyson church, library and Tyson Activity Center last week to learn about the history and the local philanthropist. A first ever Tyson Community Festival was held Sunday for Versailles in celebration of James Tyson and was well attended by the community, she reported.

Only residents of Versailles attending the annual meeting were allowed to vote on the projects on the ballot. Gilpin explained that 10 percent of the annual distribution goes to the church, 10 percent of the annual distribution goes to the library and the remaining funds are distributed annually to local entities. The amount this year awarded from the Tyson Fund was $558,378.

The board members, made up of Natalie Gilpin, Kenny Sheets, Bob Meyer, Susan Underwood, Bill Bradford and Connie Morris (Mike Richmond and Jim Leveille were unable to attend), tallied the ballots as the South Ripley Young Confederates entertained with several songs.

All projects were approved and they include:
• Child Evangelism Fellowship, $2000, for rental of Tyson Activity Center for Good News Archery Club and camp
• Ripley County Historical Society, $1200, projector to use for presentations and laptop
• Ripley County Probation Dept., $5000, to continue their substance abuse program
• Southern Ripley Co. EMS, $17,725, purchase a power pro cot and cardiac monitor
• South Ripley Elementary School, $65,000, purchase and replace playground equipment
• Tyson Activity Center, $21,215, program funding and $10,000 for matching grant
• Tyson Library, $120,000, continuation of programs and ongoing support
• Tyson Manor, $5000, replacement of air conditioners in units
• Versailles Fire and Rescue, $13,000, fire station payment and support
• Versailles Lions Club, $10,000, Pumpkin Show operation/entertainment
• Town of Versailles, $298,238, water plant and sewer bond, storm drain project and blacktopping of town roads

All of the recipients had a representative on hand to accept the monetary award, and all expressed appreciation to the committee and James Tyson. Mark Collier, principal at SR Elementary School said he was glad their students could not only learn about the history of Versailles and its unique buildings, but also about philanthropy through a native son. “It allowed the opportunity for our kids to see what they can do, no matter how big or small, to give of their time or talent, of what they can do for their community. “

Everything pumpkin!
Town hosts oldest festival in Indiana

Mary Mattingly

Many counties have festivals, but not many can say they have the oldest festival in the state. Versailles can rightfully claim that record. Next week, beginning Wednesday evening, the popular festival gets underway for the 112th year. There has not been an official count, but the Versailles Lions Club, sponsors of the show, have figured some 25,000 people will make it at some point to the many events over the five day festival.

“I’m not sure how many, but I know you can’t move on Saturday!” Pumpkin Show president Richard Zinz said, and added. “We have one of the nicest and biggest parades around, and especially for a town of this size.” Pleasant temperatures and no rain has been ordered and prayed for by the Lions and other local residents. Weather is often a determining factor to attendance.

Many of those southern Ripley County natives circle on their calendar the last weekend in September to return home for the annual event. It serves as a homecoming for many who have moved away. Zinz said it’s a good way to show off the town. “It’s a nice event for a family. We’re not Mayberry RFD but we have people who care about other people in their town, and I think you see that reflected in the parade.”

The parade features high school bands, businesses, clubs, churches, sports teams and more. This year, being a political year, several candidates will be participating in the two hour parade. The King and Queen Contest kicks off the events Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. The dozen or so participating schools will come out to cheer on and support their candidates. It’s followed by music from popular musicians Keith Swinney and Lora Parks. Wednesday is also one ticket ride night.

Thursday, many are entertained with the cute kids on stage for the Prince and Princess Contest, sponsored by Ripley Publishing Co. You never know what these little ones will say! It’s at 7 p.m., and the Pie Eating Contest follows at 8 p.m. Zinz says the Buddy Ride Night, two rides for the price of one, will also bring a lot of families. Friday is the talent show at 5:30 p.m. with music acts from Karli Edging and Levi Riggs. “Where else can you go for free and be entertained for four nights in a row?” Zinz said.

Saturday, the parade begins at 10:30, but arrive early to reserve a good viewing spot. For the first time, the Lions will offer a free shuttle from South Ripley High School every 15 minutes. Special events go on throughout the day, with oldies music by Rick K and the Allnighters at 7:30 p.m. This year, the Pumpkin Show Dance has returned Saturday night at the Tyson Activity Center. It’s for the 21 and over crowd.

Giant pumpkins!
After the parade, the winners of the Giant Pumpkin Contest will be announced. Bill Hughes, known to have grown a few giant pumpkins in the past, is in charge of the contest, with weigh-in beginning at 7 a.m. at Gilpin’s on US 421. He thinks there should be a good pumpkin crop this year because the summer has been cooler, and pumpkins like cool, dry weather.

Like fisherman, competitive pumpkin growers are usually mum on their techniques, Hughes said. He has heard of growers injecting milk in the vine. His daughter, a nurse, gave a pumpkin an IV “and I know first-hand that doesn’t work. It died the next day!” He’s heard of farmers playing the radio in the patch. What kind of music? “Well I don’t think it was rock and roll because these pumpkins can’t rock and can barely roll!” he joked. His neighbor Hank Nicholson, a former giant pumpkin award winner, has put a chair in his patch to sit and watch pumpkins grow. Maybe it just needs care and attention, Hughes surmises.

Timing has a lot to do with it. Last year he had a 600 pound pumpkin, but it grew too fast and was rotten by contest time. Pumpkins are getting bigger though. The first pumpkin winner in Versailles was 74 pounds in the ‘90s; pumpkins at 1,000 pounds were setting world records. Last year, a 2,032 pound pumpkin at a pumpkin contest in California broke a world record.

Last day
A few years ago the Lions Club added Sunday to the festival, with a community church service at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. 5K walk/run. Discounted one ticket rides from 1 to 5 p.m. is a great way to end the show.

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

• Once bedbugs arrive, it's hard to eradicate (first in two-part series)
• BMV announces excise tax refund (page 3)
• CSI techniques studied: Fingerprints leave unique mark (School News, section B)
• Tony Stewart case headed to grand jury (Regional Wrap-Up, section B, page 5)

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