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March 10, 2016 • Headline News
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Easter Egg Coloring Contest

It’s time for Ripley Publishing Company's Easter Coloring Contest, where we hunt for the area’s most “eggcellent” artists! Color in your favorite picture for your chance to win! Pick up a copy of The Versailles Republican dated March 3 for the coloring entry forms.
• 1 WINNER IN EACH AGE CATEGORY (4-6 and 7-10)
RULES: Contest is open to children ages 4 through 10. Contestants may use crayons, colored pencils or markers. Adults may assist in completing
the contest entry form, but not in coloring. All entries must be received by Monday, March 21 before 4:30 p.m. Decisions of the judges are final.

Record number of court advocates to help kids

Mary Mattingly

A record number of local volunteers were sworn in recently for the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) which serves Ripley and Jefferson Counties. That’s a very good thing, considering the wait list of children needing advocates is the highest ever, at 117, according to Tonya Ruble-Richter, executive director of Voices for Children.

Court appointed special advocatesSUBMITTED PHOTO
Court Appointed Special Advocates were recently sworn in by Circuit Court Judge Ryan King. From left, front row, Judge King, Diana Edwards of Versailles, Bonnie Wall of Milan, Georgetta Mulholland of Lawrenceburg, Pam Chaffee, Char Dreyer and Mimi Ryan, all of Batesville; back row, left Darlene Roell and Sherri Williams, both of Batesville, Barbara Hensley of Milan, Charlene Dalton and Jim Dreyer and Greg Niese, all of Batesville, Not shown is Max Eberle.

Last year also topped a CASA record with eight volunteers from the county. “We’re on a roll,” she said. “Our goal for 2016 was 10 volunteers and we brought in 14!” She attributes the latest increase to prominent media attention from this newspapers and others in January. “I just don’t think people know what we do, or how our local children are hurting. When we show them, they want to help.” They had 29 CASA volunteers last year, but most were not from Ripley County. This year, they are up to 59 volunteers from both counties.

Abuse chart
CHART SOURCE: Indiana Youth Institute. Kids Count data

The child abuse or neglect cases are increasing state-wide and in Ripley County (see chart). In 2014, the state-wide CASA program served 18,000 children and last year, 23,000. The numbers continue to climb at an “alarming” rate, Ruble-Richter said. Two years ago, in February the number of child abuse cases in the two counties was at 3, in 2015 at 7, and this past two months, 22.

“It’s significant because there is nothing about this time period that would indicate such an increase,” she said, “We have to seriously look at the numbers and why the increase,” Ruble-Richter said. “We (Voices for Children and the county judge) are very concerned.”

Currently, there are 26 active CASA volunteers serving Ripley County. “It’s a wonderful, wonderful thing, but we still have work to do,” she commented. Ripley County has 55 children served through this program but there are another 38 waiting to be assigned an advocate. In all, they have 193 children on their roster for both counties. Each of the new CASA volunteers has already received a child to support. Ruble-Richter said they try to match children with the volunteer requests. For example, one single mother volunteer asked to have a child located in Versailles. Their new volunteers include a husband-wife team, retired and full-time working individuals, a single dad and more. They finished the weekend training held at Batesville’s Ivy Tech facility in February. The volunteers learned about courtroom procedures and advocacy techniques from a number of professionals who are familiar with both the courts and abused children. They advocate for the best interest of children, both inside and outside a courtroom. Basically, they are the voice for the child.

Judge Ryan King, who swore in the volunteers, is a big proponent of the program. “Bringing on 14 new child advocates is a really big deal for children in need of services in Ripley County; more children will now have an interested member of our community advocating for their child’s best interests,” King commented. There were 30 volunteers considering both Jefferson and Ripley Counties. King also noted it took several agencies to prepare these CASA volunteers, and was appreciative to Michelle Russell, director of the Dept. of Child Services who explained their role at the session and Sgt. Danny Hamilton with Batesville police for providing information about drug trends. Because of the case demand they have boosted training sessions from two a year to four. The next training will be in May in Jefferson County, then in the summer in Ripley County, and back to Jefferson County in the fall.

The program is supported by the Southeastern Indiana Voices for Children, which is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, with two full-time employees. It is funded through state supreme court fees and county courts match the state money. Ruble-Richter said both Jefferson and Ripley courts give more than the match. “We are very lucky they do. But it’s still hard to keep up with the increasing numbers.”

They are holding a first time 5K fundraiser in Ripley County on April 23 with proceeds going toward funding the training, recruiting and supporting the CASA program. Ruble Richter noted that the average cost to advocate for a child is $1090 a year. The 10 a.m. run will begin and end at the Batesville Knights of Columbus hall on Delaware Road. The theme is super heroes. “All kids need heroes but abused children need super heroes,” she said. There will also be a 1K for kids, who are also encouraged to dress in hero costumes. You can register online at or call the office.

Ruble-Richter is pleased with where CASA is heading. “Abuse and neglect is a hideous topic to talk about but the good news is people are willing to step in to help. That’s the silver lining.” For more information go to their website at “We need all the help we can get! We need to continue to recruit, train and support our team and ensure that our local hurting children are receiving the best advocacy we can possibly provide!”

Local Bulletin Board

Candidate list sign-ups begin

Ripley Publishing Company, Inc. will be running a continuous candidate listing beginning March 15. For $125 your name along with the office you are running for will appear in both newspapers through the May Primary Election. In addition, you will receive a free press release along with a photo in one of the newspapers. The press release must be submitted to our office along with a photo. Arrangements can be made to have a photo taken in our office. Please call 812-689-6364 or email us at or stop by our office at 115 S Washington Street in Versailles to get your name on the list.

Deadline to sign up: March 18
Art classes to be offered at Versailles State Park in April

Art classes will be open to the public of all ages, and include photography, birdhouse painting, watercolors, woodworking, recycled art, mixed media art, and beginning guitar. More information is available in section B, page 5 of The Versailles Republican dated March 3.

Deadline: April 1, 2016

Sheriff scholarships announced

Ripley Co. Sheriff Jeff Cumberworth announced that Indiana Sheriff’s Association would again be awarding college scholarships to qualified high school seniors or college students who are pursuing a degree in criminal justice. For details pick up a copy of The Versailles Republican dated February 11 and read page 3.

Deadline: April 4, 2016
SEIRD announces student scholarship

The Southeastern Indiana Recycling District (SEIRD) is pleased to announce the 2015 - 2016 “Students Making an Environmental Difference Scholarship” for graduating high school seniors. For details pick up a copy of The Versailles Republican dated February 11 and read pg. 2.

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115 S. Washington Street, P.O. Box 158
Versailles, IN 47042

Phone: 812-689-6364 • Fax: 812-689-6508

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