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The Versailles Republican

January 8, 2015 • Headlines

U.S. Congressman Luke Messer was sworn in for a second term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is pictured with recently re-elected House Speaker John Boehner and his family. For more details, pick up The Versailles Republican at your local newsstand.
Marine Corporal Mike James Back helps his cousin, Ryan King, with his judge’s robe and details. King said he asked Back to swear him in as the Circuit Court Judge. Back has served three tours of duty. For more details, pick up The Versailles Republican at your local newsstand.
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School superintendents: Safety first when deciding on closings, delays

Hannah Carlock

Should school be on a regular schedule, delay or closed? These are the options local school superintendents face mainly throughout the winter. They were faced with such decisions this week, with snow in the forecast for Tuesday and sub-zero temperatures for Wednesday and Thursday. This is not like taking a multiple-choice test. The decision rendered is a matter of safety for everyone not only attending school, the students and staff, but also for people traveling when bad weather hits. The educators are aware having fewer vehicles on the road can help keep accidents for the entire community to a minimum.

When bad weather is spotted on radar, superintendents are on alert and wake up extra early to be on the road by 4 a.m. According to Milan and South Ripley school leaders, the decision whether to have school or not is hopefully made by 5:30 a.m. , the latest being 6 a.m. If the snow comes the night before the decision is generally made by 8:30 p.m. This time frame is to make sure the word is spread before people make their way to school on unsafe roadways. It’s also to alert bus drivers and the broadcast media to announce the decision. In recent years, all of the county school districts have established an automated messaging system to spread the word. Websites and social media also contribute to relaying the message.
Snow total in inches 2013-14


As far as weather, Ripley County has already started out much better compared to last winter. According to Rich Corkhum, Ripley County EMA weather/operations, data obtained from the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) station near Osgood, Indiana is pictured left.

Jac-Cen-Del’s new superintendent Tim Taylor was just a few days into the job this week when he was faced with these decisions. A former Jennings County principal, he noted the contact with other superintendents greatly helps, along with input from Mark Meyer, transportation director and Bill Craddock, buildings and ground. He expects to learn more about reading radar, weather forecasts and road conditions as he continues on the job.

Paul Ketcham, superintendent of Milan Community Schools, rides with the transportation director when the weather is questionable. They will drive on hills and go over bridges to see how slick the roads are. South Ripley School Superintendent Rob Moorhead noted he may go to Friendship while Gil Landwehr, transportation director, may drive to the New Marion area. “You have to make sure it is safe for the entire district, “ Moorhead commented. If the call is made to have school, “the decision is left up to the parent whether to allow their child to attend school that day,” states Ketcham, especially if that student is of driving age. “There is transportation provided by the school on buses,” Ketcham noted. That is the main thought process when driving the roads early, and it’s not whether a 16-year-old student can adequately drive rural roads or not, but moreover, can a bus turn around or make it down the hill safely, administrators said. Communication is key not to only get the word out but to make the decision. State police, Ripley County Sheriff, school resource officers, Ripley County Highway Department, bus drivers and the school transportation director relay information to help in decision making by the superintendents. Gil Landwehr says he can give a recommendation of what he believes is the right decision but it is ultimately the superintendent’s call. And, as Ketcham said, it’s still a parent’s call on whether to send their child to school or not. Rob Moorhead agreed, but they will work with the student if they can’t get to school due to weather.

All of the superintendents were out early Tuesday morning, investigating the roads for safety. Timing is everything, according to Moorhead, “If it has come in overnight and the storm has moved out, a delay might help give the county a couple of extra hours to get the roads in good condition so we can still have school.” “If the bad weather hits during the morning travel time, that can make it very difficult to have school,” continues Moorhead. “I am pretty conservative when it comes to making the decision to close school.” They were also monitoring the situation Wednesday, when a wind chill advisory was issued; however, Moorhead said he thought it was best to start school on time because the temperature was expected to drop later in the day. A wind chill warning had not been issued as of press time. A main concern is kids waiting outside for bus pick up. He recalls they had a closing and/or delay last year due to extreme temperatures.

Ball game factor?
How much do ball games scheduled for the same day factor in? “Absolutely zero! It does not figure into it,” Moorhead said, and Ketcham agreed. Roads may clear up later in the day and it would be safe to have the game. “It’s a mutually exclusive event. Just because school closes does not mean the game is off,” Moorhead said. He also asks that coaches not have practices before noon or without the building principal’s consent on school closing days.

Last resorts
Ketcham noted if anything he considers standardized testing dates, and the effect of losing an instruction day before the exam. But he says the decision still comes down to safety, for the student, staff and community. Early dismissal is also a “last resort” the superintendents said. Moorhead said they used it once last year. Automatic messaging helps in getting the word to parents, and parents in turn contact the schools as to where the child should go. It does make for a hectic day for the school front office. Last year, the county schools missed about two weeks of school. The state superintendent waived a few of those days, but the rest were made up with either built in make up days or extending the calendar. So far, most of the schools are using the first built in make up day in January since they lost one day due to weather in mid-November. One thing most districts rarely change is graduation date. Again, that’s another “last-resort,” the superintendents said. The common thinking from school boards and administrators is students must attend the state required 180 days, and if it means calling off school for safety sake, and altering the calendar, then so be it. The superintendents all said it’s better to err on the side of caution.

Insurance advice on what is covered

When Mother Nature hurts home

Forecasters are calling for frigid temperatures in Ripley County, and throughout the region, for this week. Although we have not had much accumulation this season, winter storms can wreak havoc on homes and automobiles. When a storm strikes, it is important to know what to do if your home is damaged or if you are involved in an automobile accident.

Ice on gutters


Be mindful of jammed gutters or water getting through shingles.

“With winter’s harsh weather upon us, every Hoosier should take steps now to make sure they are prepared in the event of winter storm damage or an accident on slick roads. Check your insurance policy to see what damages will be covered on your home, make sure your car is winterized and keep an emergency kit readily available in your car,” advises Indiana Department of Insurance Commissioner Stephen W. Robertson. The Indiana Department of Insurance offers tips to help protect Hoosiers in the event of damage caused by winter storms. Ripley Publishing also talked with Andy Hummel of Hummel Winters Insurance Agency in Milan about preventive measures.

Damage to home?
Call your insurance company or agent with your policy number and other relevant information as soon as possible. Take photographs and/or video of the damage. Make the repairs necessary to prevent further damage to your property (i.e., cover broken windows, leaking roofs and damaged walls). Do not have permanent repairs made until your insurance company has inspected the property and you have reached an agreement on the cost of repairs. Save all receipts, including those from the temporary repairs. Cooperate fully with the insurance company, and ask what documents, forms and data you will need. If your home is damaged to the extent that you cannot live there, ask your insurance company if you have coverage for additional living expenses incurred while repairs are being made. Save all receipts to document these costs.

What damage is covered?
Damage caused by wind, wind-driven rain, trees or other falling objects, and the collapse of a structure due to weight of ice or snow are all covered under most standard homeowner policies. Frozen pipes as the result of extreme cold might not be covered if the damage is due to negligence, such as failing to maintain an adequate temperature in the house when the ability to do so is there. Andy Hummel with Hummel Winters insurance agency in Milan said homes belonging to “snowbirds” are generally not considered vacant; however, if a home is bought before selling the other house, that’s when they get into trouble. Check your policy and call your insurance agent if you need clarification or have specific questions. Surprisingly, they didn’t have a lot of claims filed from last winter. There were some smaller issues, but “all it takes is one doozie,” he noted. Hummel also reminded homeowners that outside faucets with connecting hoses can freeze and could cause water damage. Hoses should be removed. If there is an issue in a certain area, such as an outside faucet routinely freezing, insulation covers should be placed on it prior to the winter. Older homes with outside exterior wall plumbing don’t have many options for owners against freezing, other than to crank the heat up or reroute piping, according to Hummel. It might be worth the expense when you consider replacing flooring, etc. “It’s like your body. Preventive maintenance is the best remedy.” Cleaning a furnace or wood stove are both preventive practices. These winter issues would be covered under most residential policies

What isn’t Covered?
The following events are typically not covered by the standard homeowners insurance policy: Interior water damage from a storm, when there is no damage to the roof or walls of your home; damage as the result of a flood; removal of fallen trees (if the trees do not land on and damage your home); food spoilage due to a power outage; and water damage from backed-up drains or sewers. Some insurers offer endorsements (i.e., additional protection that may be purchased) for certain coverages not covered under the standard homeowner policy. Check with your agent or company to determine your needs. 

Car accident
The Indiana Department of Insurance recommends a mobile app called WreckCheck that will guide you through all the necessary steps to take after an auto accident. The free smartphone app was created by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and is available on iOS and Android devices. Hummel also said a claim still has to be filed for an accident that occurs on icy or snowy roads, despite it being an act of nature, but usually collision insurance covers it.

Claim Settlement
If you have a dispute with your insurer about the amount or terms of the claim settlement, you may submit a consumer complaint online to the Indiana Department of Insurance using the online forms at or mail complaints to Indiana Department of Insurance, Consumer Service Department, 311 West Washington Street, Suite 103, Indianapolis IN 46204-2787.

The Indiana Department of Insurance (IDOI) protects Indiana’s insurance consumers by monitoring and regulating the financial strengths and market conduct activities of insurance companies and agents. The IDOI monitors insurance companies and agents for compliance with state laws to protect consumers.

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.

• Stutler elected president: First commissioners’ meeting for Linville (front page)
Girls, boys Ripley County Tournament schedule (front page)
• Power out at JCD (front page)
• Former Versailles resident marries film star (page 2)

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