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August 11, 2015 • Headline News
Pictured is Missy Cole of Dearborn County Hospital. Her name has been added to the plaque listing Northern Kentucky University’s Outstanding Radiologic Technologists.
Steve Wescott and his goat LeeRoy Brown got some doubletakes on US 50 last week. Wescott is trekking across the country to raise money for a Kenya orphanage.
Tom Tepe Autocenter
Tom Tepe Autocenter
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Fatality on US 50

One person died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on US 50 Monday morning.
Fatal accident by Versailles State Park

Pictured left is the victim’s 2004 Chevrolet S-10, which was towed from the scene Monday afternoon. The fatal accident closed US 50 near Versailles State Park.

According to Indiana State Police, around 10 a.m. Christopher S. Crabtree, 42, of Dillsboro, was westbound on US 50 in his S-10 pickup near the Versailles State Park. The vehicle left the right side of the road and struck an embankment. He was pronounced dead at the scene. It is not known yet whether the gunshot wound occured before or after the crash, according to the police release. The family has been notified. Toxicology results are pending. The investigation is ongoing. US 50, east of Versailles, was closed for three hours while the incident was investigated. It reopened around 1:20 p.m. Motorists were being re-routed from the Versailles intersection around noon. Versailles Fire Department also responded to the scene. Click here to visit our Facebook page, read more and follow the Twitter link to the Indiana State Police.

She served to improve local community
Longtime board leader makes a difference

Mary Mattingly

Ripley County would not be what it is today without Marianne Wiggers. She would never say that; she’s far too humble and modest. But if you consider the many boards she’s served on, how long she’s served, and a few she even founded, it’s a fair statement to make. Wiggers retired July 31 from her “paid” job, as customer relations/marketing director for Southeastern Indiana REMC, after working there over 29 years. Her employer is “community minded” and encouraged her to become involved. But, perhaps they didn’t know she’d take it to heart!
Marianne Wiggers

Marianne Wiggers, pictured left, recently retired from Southeastern Indiana REMC, but spent many volunteer hours on serving in leadership capacities on several Ripley County boards.

Helping the community grow and prosper became her way of life. A mother of two grown sons and a former editor at the Osgood Journal and The Versailles Republican, this artist and people-person has been a key member in at least six local boards. Many will say that she made things happen, that she’s a visionary and one who sees the big picture and plans for it. For example, in 1994 there was no county tourism bureau. With the potential riverboat revenue sharing coming from Rising Sun, it was necessary to establish a tourism bureau in Ripley County. She and a few other movers and shakers in the community were asked to head up the county’s tourism bureau, which is of course still active today promoting our county under the direction of Katherine Taul. Wiggers has served as president, and was a board member for 21 years.

Then, there’s the Rising Sun Regional Foundation, created 19 years ago. Wiggers was the RSRF’s only president until she stepped down at the end of 2013. “It was fun but a lot of work,” she admitted. The foundation was created as a way to use the tax money generated from a separate development agreement between the city of Rising Sun and the developer of the casino. There were two pools of money that the city agreed to share with the region. Monte Denbo was the lead negotiator for the city at the time and helped negotiate an agreement with the riverboat developer to set aside money for the foundation. Denbo, Neil Comer, attorney for Rising Sun at the time, along with Mark Guard, mayor then, were the original incorporators who set up the bylaws for the foundation. Wiggers was asked by Comer when they were looking for board members to represent Ripley County on the RSRF. “He said you’ll have money to work with, to hire people, and when I asked what kind of time are we talking about, he said, probably not much,” she said and laughs. “But he didn’t know. Not really. ‘Not much time’ turned into beaucoup time! I tease him all the time about that.” She didn’t realize how many hours a week she put into the RSRF until she resigned last year. “But it was wonderful. You got so involved. We had grant cycles every three months so we were able to play Santa Claus four times a year!” In her tenure, the foundation took in $40 million, 25 percent of that went to a permanent reserve fund, valued at $14 million and distributed $27 million back to the community in the form of grants. “I did enjoy it immensely, working with the council and commissioners, town boards, non-profit organizations,” she said. And, it helped so many individuals and organizations through the creation of local foundations, like the Ripley County Community Foundation.

The RSRF may be her greatest community accomplishment. “We were able to help communities and organizations grow in a way many never thought possible.” The board and staff spent time helping town leaders make plans for projects that could be funded down the road. Wiggers was also a founding member of the Ripley County Economic Development Corp. in 1994. She went off the board just this year. Then there’s the Southeast Indiana Regional Planning Commission that she served on from 1988 to 2005, and INvision, another regional development board she put time in for 16 years before it disbanded. Wiggers has gotten off almost all of her board positions; however, she’s still on the Milan ’54 Museum board. She worked alongside Roselyn McKittrick to see the new museum to fruition and to keep the famous story alive. A former Milan resident, she realizes its value to the town’s past and future.

“My biggest project and the one I’m most disappointed in, is the Inn,” Wiggers noted. She has been a strong advocate of establishing an Inn or lodge at the Versailles State Park. “To me and many others in the county, it’s the perfect spot. It has 400,000 visitors a year, and it’ s just a no-brainer,” she said. DNR and the state don’t see it that way, despite her 20 years of passionate persuasion. There have been no new state park inns in 40 years, and a big reason is lack of funds. Of her various board work, she humbly says, “There are so many others who were part of the process.”

REMC work
Through all these boards, Wiggers figures she’s only missed a handful of meetings. She actually scheduled her vacations (and she does love to travel!) around meetings. What she couldn’t schedule though were work issues. “Work always came first,” she said. It wasn’t a 9 to 5 job. As customer relations/marketing director for Southeastern Indiana REMC, Wiggers chipped in, along with her co-workers, during times of severe weather. She’ll never forget the 2007 ice storm where all but 3,000 of their 27,000 customers were without power. The following year she had moved to a condo in Lawrenceburg when Hurricane Ike struck in September, and some were without power for six days. “We learned a lot about how to manage a major crisis. We had tornadoes strike in localized areas but this was an entire system,” she recalled of their seven county coverage. She helped answer phones in the day and manned food stations in the evenings for the line workers.

Now retired, Wiggers won’t have to worry about storms and power outages, and she’s left the door open for other energetic and community minded persons to step up to board work. “Living in a community you want to see things in a positive light and do what is best for the community, and not force things on it. You need to plan for the future and have some control. It was important. “

Nonetheless, this all saves time for her to develop her other passion: art. Art and photography have been her savior, her therapy from stressful days. A well-respected regional watercolor artist, Wiggers has had her work shown in local galleries, and rarely missed a Thursday open studio class in Hidden Valley. “I always made sure to plan my meetings around Thursday!”

Her other passion is travel. Alaska is next, but she’d like to see Norway and more of Europe. She’s visited her son Matt and his family, who now live in Singapore, and she also jumps in her car to visit her other son, Scott, who lives in Kokomo. Who knows, these visits may provide her next artistic inspiration. “My goal now is to grow better as an artist,” she said. Wiggers has already proven she can “grow” or improve a community, now it’s her turn!

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