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October 1, 2015 • Headline News
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A perfect Pumpkin Show!

By all accounts, the 113th Versailles Pumpkin Show was deemed a big success. It may turn out to be a record year, once the final numbers are in, according to Lions Club organizers. Advanced ticket sales were up, which is good news for the Versailles Lions Club, sponsor of the event, They receive a portion of the proceeds from advanced sales.
Tri Kappa float

Left, Carol Holzer and Susan Underwood swarm around the Tri Kappa float, which was selected as the best float. Other float winners from the parade include: for business, Napoleon State Bank; Organization float, Versailles Main Street; Youth organization float, Boy Scouts Troop 631 of Milan-Moores Hill; Religious organization: Little Diddle Day Care; Agri float, Gooseberry Flowers. See more photos inside.

“We did very well,” Paul Sipples, president of the Versailles Pumpkin Show said of the five day event. Sponsorships, grants and ticket sales were all up this year. “It went smoothly, but there is always room to improve or tweak it,” he said.

Saturday’s parade attendance was down somewhat, and organizers blamed the light rain as the reason. It was also an off year for elections, which means fewer parade entries. The other days or evenings all had great weather, which is often key to the turnout. Wednesday evening was the most crowded of the five-day event. It was also one of the one-ticket ride days, and the night of the popular king and queen contest. Sunday, which was added a couple of years ago to the Show, also is doing better, Sipples said, with many taking advantage of the one-ticket ride day then.

Jake Cavins at Versailles Pumpkin ShowMARY MATTINGLY PHOTO
Twenty-five years ago at the 88th Versailles Pumpkin Show the 2nd annual pumpkin pie eating contest was held and Jeff Cavins won top honors. On Sept. 24, his son Jake, pictured left, ate his way to first place, continuing the winning family tradition. Like his dad, he was representing Milan High School. For the girls, Kayla Adkinson of South Ripley devoured the most pie.

“The show grows every year and the revenue produced grows too. It’s been a good tradition for 113 years,” Sipples said. “I thank all of our Lions members, past and present, plus our sponsors and the Tyson Fund for supporting this. And, we couldn’t have it without the people who show up every year. It’s a great event that people look forward to.”

The first ever Punkin Chunkin contest, held as a kick off the week before, was also considered a success, and the Lions said they plan to bring it back next year. The Lions put the money raised at the Show back into the community in the way of scholarships, school programs and other projects for the needy.

Distracted driving No. 1 cause
No obvious trend for road accidents

Mary Mattingly

It’s not your imagination, but there have been a slew of vehicle accidents in the area the past five weeks. Many have been reported in Ripley Publishing newspapers. “It’s been really busy, with crazy stuff,” acknowledges Ripley County Sheriff Jeff Cumberworth. It started with a freak lawn mower accident on August 27 taking the life of a well-known Versailles resident. Two days later a Milan woman and teen were injured in a two-vehicle accident in Osgood. Police also had to shut down US 50 due to a bomb threat on Sunday, Aug. 30 at the Gold Star Chili Restaurant. Four juveniles were hurt one Friday night last month when the driver lost control due to hill-hopping in Milan, according to the police report. Four days later another crash occurred on west Hopewell Road. In Osgood, a car overturned one morning but there were no injuries, which police believe was due to use of seat belts. On Sept. 14, seven were hurt in a two car crash on US 421 and CR 350S. Two days later three were ejected from a vehicle on US 50 in the evening. Nonetheless, police do not see a pattern among these road accidents. “These accidents are not the same thing. It’s not like everyone is texting or running stop signs and causing accidents or something,” Cumberworth said.

Sgt. Steve Wheeles, public information officer for the state police at Versailles post, agrees. “It just seems to go in spurts,” and September it’s been heavy in southeastern Indiana, Wheeles said. There was also a motorcycle accident with two fatalities in nearby Greendale recently. Local kids went back to school in early August, and while that does put more vehicles on the road, it’s usually winter weather that keeps law enforcement busy with accidents. Wheeles has worked I-65, one of the busiest areas in the country, but said accidents there have dropped some, and he attributes it to less road construction there. In the winter, motorists also tend to be more aware or on guard to the weather affecting road conditions.


However, both he and Cumberworth agree a major contributor for road accidents is following too close. State law calls for motorists to follow a safe distance, but doesn’t specify the distance. Semi trucks are to maintain 300 feet from one another. A fully loaded truck with 80,000 pounds takes the length of a football field to stop. Wheeles said the general rule of thumb is to put a car length between the vehicle for every 10 mph; so, at 70 mph that would be seven cars. In the rural area, which is most of his multi-county district, the state tends to put more police on the roads for heavy traffic holidays, like Labor or Memorial Days, paid often by various federal programs. Most semi trucks in accidents are caused by passenger cars not providing the proper distance. “You need to see the entire truck in your rearview mirror.” said Cari Baylor, whose grandfather founded Baylor Trucking in Milan. She noted new trucks are radar equipped for stopping and turning. However, there are four blind spots around trucks, and it’s best to pass quickly to resume visibility and change lanes only when you can see both of the truck’s headlights in the rearview mirror. Never pass on the right, the right blind spot runs the length of the trailer and extends out three lanes.

Distracted driving

The No. 1 cause of accidents is distracted driving, according to the Indiana Motor Truck Association. Cell phone use and texting are often cited. “It’s not just a teenage issue. It’s everyone. People can’t resist to look at it, or if they hear a bing, pick it up. Curiosity kills the cat and it’s the same for texting. It can literally kill you,” Cumberworth said. It could also be fiddling with the radio, eating, grooming or talking with other passengers. That message was delivered loud and strong to Milan High School students.
Milan High School impaired driver simulator MARY MATTINGLY PHOTO
Natan Austing, Milan HS, uses a simulator to see how difficult it is to drive under the influence.

On Friday, Sept. 11 the Indiana Motor Truck Association and Milan’s Baylor Trucking Co. sponsored the National Save a Life Tour. After seeing an emotional video about the impact of drinking and driving, all of the students participated in distracted driving simulators to reinforce safe driving techniques. “You are driving a drunk car,” presenter Andrew Tipton explained to the students. They would see how one full second delays their reaction time when driving intoxicated and what happens when briefly glancing at a phone or a text message.
A key message was to keep your eyes on the road and not on your cell. Kiera Hall, a senior, drove a simulator that showed her the impact of texting. “I didn’t expect it to be so hard to drive. I ended up hitting a firefighter!” she said.

A new law went into effect July 1 that bans cell phone use on the road for minors under 21. The law is to prevent the number of deaths on the road, which is the No. 1 cause of death for teens.

The safety program and local officers encourage people to shut off the phone or put it in your glove compartment so you won’t be tempted. Senior Nathan Austing admitted he’s texted or looked at his phone, and from now on, will do as suggested: put it in his glove compartment or on silent mode. Noah Yatsko, a senior, said seeing the movie “embedded the fear of what you can do to someone else’s life,” and not just your own by making a poor choice.
Gary Langston, president of IMTA who was at the Milan presentation, said the only solution to reduce the possibility of road accidents is to pay attention at all times. It’s not just both hands on the wheel, but both eyes. Even phone conversations can be distracting, he said, and particularly for inexperienced drivers.

Patience please

When an accident does occur, police ask motorists to be patient. Roads may have to be shut down to clear the scene or for an investigation, and detour routes are created. For example, US 421 was closed for two hours as helicopters and ambulances responded to the injuries in Ripley County. Sgt. Wheeles said he knows people are anxious to get to their destination, but said “We do the best we can in every situation, and try to keep a lane open or reroute.”

It’s the law
Besides the ban against texting and cell phone use for minors, here’s a look at some other road laws intended to keep motorists safe.
• Indiana’s child passenger safety law requires all children less than eight years of age to be properly restrained in a federally approved child restraint system, which can include a belt positioning booster seat.
• A child under age one should always ride in a rear-facing car seat.. Between age 1 and 3, your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer.
• Between ages 4 to 7, keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.
• It’s the law for drivers and passengers to buckle up and wear a seat belt. The fine is $25. Sgt. Wheeles said he’s noticed that more people seem to be wearing seat belts.
• If a school bus extends its stop arm out, motorists on both sides of the lane must stop, unless there is a median in the middle of the multi -lane road (not likely in Ripley County). “We do get a few complaints from bus drivers,” Sheriff Cumberworth noted.
• Farm equipment is exempt from size, width and height but not from giving half of the roadway to ongoing traffic. Equipment should have all lighting, slow moving emblems and placards visible. When three or more vehicles are behind the oversized equipment, the driver is asked to pull to the side of the road to allow same direction traffic to travel past. Sheriff Cumberworth said they do get gripes from motorists who get stuck behind a piece of equipment for awhile. “The harvest is coming and we’ve already seen some tractors or equipment on the road. I remind people they need to be patient.”
• Also new this year, House Bill 1305 requires drivers in the left lane to move over if an approaching vehicle is going faster, with tickets carrying fines of up to $500. Motorists could be ticketed if they are driving below the speed limit and refusing to leave the left lane, causing traffic backups behind them.

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