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Dubois County

Building on a Solid Foundation






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Major projects to transform Jasper By LEANN BURKE JASPER — There’s a lot of dirt moving in Jasper. Several major projects are underway in the city, including a new park, a high-speed internet build out, new housing and a few projects that developers and city officials say will transform the Patoka riverfront. If everything goes according to plan, the City of Jasper could look quite different in a few years. The Parklands On the city’s north side, the Parklands — a roughly 75-acre park south of Schuetter Road, north of 15th Street and west of U.S. 231 — is under construction. The main entrance for the park will be off 15th Street and lead into a parking lot near the pavilion building and splash pad. Jasper Lumber, a local contractor, began construction in January and has finished most of the grading for the paths and structures. Parks Department Director Ken Buck expects the paths to be paved before November. The foundation for the pavilion is also in place. “You can tell where the pavilion is going to be,” Buck said. Coming up in August, citizens can expect to see the signature footbridge and splash pad installed. Later, a deck off the pavilion and boardwalk will be constructed. An adventure playground, outdoor exercise machines and musical instruments will also be installed. Funding for the project has come from several sources: donations, which so far have totaled more than $300,000; $4 million from the city’s economic development income tax fund; $400,000 in other grant opportunities through organizations such as the community foundation and Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission; a $35,000 Indiana Heritage Trust grant; and a $20,000 community foundation grant. The park is scheduled to open in the fall of 2018, and Buck said construction is right on track. “I think it’s going to be a nice addition to the parks system when it’s finished,” Buck said. “I think it’ll be really neat.” Smithville’s fiber internet build-out Smithville Telecom, a subsidiary of Smithville Communications of Ellettsville, has been working on a fiber build-out of the city since 2015. The build-out — which is a $7 million investment into Jasper by Smithville — would bring fiber-optic internet and the fastest internet service currently available to homes and businesses throughout the city. Smithville’s crews are currently working on the east side of the city between Kimball’s complex off 15th Street and Ninth Street and west to Main Street, as well as on the west side around Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center northwest of St. Joseph Church. Project manager Melissa Wright said the project is on schedule to finish in 2019, a year later than originally planned. Crews hit bedrock at the beginning of the project, which slowed progress. To complete the project, Smithville divided the city into 30 fiberhoods, or areas of service. The fiberhoods where residents showed the most interest were put at the beginning of the construction schedule. So far, Smithville has completed eight fiberhoods, is currently working in two and has four

Artist’s rendition of the proposed River Centre in Jasper. more scheduled for 2017. Wright said construction is ahead of schedule for this year since crews can simply hang the fiber lines on the city’s existing utility poles in the area currently under construction. So far, Smithville’s fiber lines run past 2,000 homes and businesses, and the company has gained 400 customers. Housing Jasper’s population has grown by about 500 people since 2010, and local employers and city officials want to see that number continue to rise. With the growing population comes a need for more housing. Developer Todd Kerstiens of Kerstiens Homes & Designs is one of the people working to meet those needs. Kerstiens currently has three new developments in the works: Brookstone Estates and Trinity Crossing on the city’s west side and Windsong Estates on Portersville Road. Four other developments are in the building phase. Kerstiens said he’s seen high demand for new homes in the last few years and usually sells 10 to 20 percent of the lots in his developments right away. “A lot of people are going to new homes,” he said. On the apartment side of housing, Cincinnati-based developer Miller Valentine took on the redevelopment of two old factory buildings near 13th Street. Miller Valentine turned the old Jofco building into 67 one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments for the workforce called Jasper Lofts. In workforce housing like Jasper Lofts, rent depends on income. The apartments are specifically for individuals and families who make 60 percent or less of the average median income, which is $47,400 for one person. The apartments are pet-friendly, come with a long list of amenities and are currently accepting leasing applicants.

Artist’s rendition of Jasper Cultural Center

Miller Valentine just started construction on Vine Street Lofts, a senior housing development next to Jasper Lofts in the old Jasper Wood Products building. Pete Schwiegeraht, senior developer of Miller Valentine, expects construction to be completed there in about a year. Along the riverfront Two major projects — The Jasper Cultural Center and River Centre — are happening on the riverfront right across Third Avenue from each other. The Cultural Center will combine the Jasper Public Library and Jasper Community Arts Commission into a single building on the old Hoosier Desk property at the corner of Third Avenue and Mill Street. For the last couple months, the city and the Jasper Public Library Board have been working with Louisville developer City Properties Group to settle on a final design contract that will cover all the behind-the-scenes work to be done up until the two are ready to bid out the project at the end of 2017. Library Director Christine Golden said construction is planned to begin in 2018. The old Hoosier Desk factory, which sits on the site, will be deconstructed, Golden said. Some of the materials will be reused as decorative material in the new building and some will be sold to offset construction costs. Golden is hoping the deconstruction can be done while final construction documents are being drawn up prior to bidding out the project. “That way we’re not waiting (to start construction),” she said. Work on the River Centre began with demolition in February. Since then, the public hasn’t seen much happening at the site behind the Jasper Train Depot, but a lot of legal work has been happening behind the

scenes, including a string of approvals from the city and the formation of a riverfront district that Indianapolis private developer Jane Hendrickson of Boxer Girl said will help her fill the restaurant spaces she plans to include on River Centre’s ground floor. The top two floors will be apartments. The development also includes a hotel that will fly a Marriott flag and be run by General Hotels of Indianapolis. Hendrickson said construction on the hotel is slated to begin in September, with construction on the rest of the development coming about six months later in the first quarter of 2018. Hendrickson does plan to have updated signage up at the site in time for Strassenfest. Servus! also has plans to build its new corporate headquarters along the riverfront on land the company owns on South Newton Street behind Jasper 8 Cinema. “We really, frankly, believe in the South Newton area,” said Jason Kelly, president and CEO of Servus! The development is still in its early stages, but phase one is planned to be a threestory building with a McAlister’s Deli and retail space on the ground floor, the corporate headquarters on the second floor and high-end apartments on the top floor. Servus! estimates the investment to be between $4.5 and $6 million. Kelly expects the McAlister’s to open in late 2018 or early 2019. Depending on the success of the development, Servus! may add a phase two to the project to add retail and housing space in a separate building on the property. The Courthouse Square With the myriad projects happening around the city, the Common Council voted to put a pin in a remodel of the Courthouse Square at its May meeting. As proposed, the remodel would have cost about $4.5 million, and council members thought it best to wait to commit that much money until they see how the Parklands and the Cultural Center progress. Pavers on the sidewalks and streets were also a point of contention for the project, particularly among the public. Despite putting the project on hold, Jasper Mayor Terry Seitz is confident the Courthouse Square project will happen down the road. The streets are still rated as needing serious repair work by the Jasper Street Department, and the utilities infrastructure beneath the street is 60 to 80 years old. Plus, the project is both in the city’s 2010 Comprehensive Plan and the 2013 Downtown Riverfront Master Plan. “It’s going to occur at some point,” Seitz said. “It’s still a project that has both economic development and infrastructure needs that need to be addressed.



Huntingburg projects support a Stellar future By CANDY NEAL HUNTINGBURG — Huntingburg officials are working on several projects that will address longtime issues and add features for residents and visitors to enjoy while in the city. Being named a Stellar Community by the state in 2014 means that designated money is available to Huntingburg for different projects. But even before Stellar, Huntingburg was working on ways to make improvements in the city. One such project is the overpass that is being built over the railroad tracks near 12th Street. That project is being funded mostly by the Indiana Department of Transportation to address one of the biggest problems people driving through Huntingburg face: the railroad that runs through the middle of the city. When a train comes through, which happens daily, the wait could range from a few minutes to more than half an hour. Construction on the overpass started in April and is expected to be completed in September 2018. The project will lay new road west of 14th Street, curving southwest to connect to Styline Drive, with the overpass going over the railroad tracks near 12th Street just east of the Industrial Park. The overpass will have on its east side a walking path that will be part of the city’s Heritage Trail walking trail. “The (overpass) footers will be established and poured. Once that is done, there will be a lull in the project because they have to let those cure and settle,” Huntingburg Mayor Denny Spinner said. “They don’t want to put a bridge on top of a poor foundation.” The curing process will take six to nine months, depending on the weather. It’s apparent to anyone visiting the area that work is being done. Space has been cleared to widen Styline Drive some, and culverts are being fixed. “A lot of preliminary work has already been done,” Spinner said. INDOT is covering 80 percent of the project’s $5.9 million cost; of the 20 percent left, Dubois County is covering 10 percent, up to $1 million; the city is covering the other 10 percent. Currently, city officials are researching companies who will be able to digitize the city’s water meter system, which will detect water leaks in water customers’ lines quickly and allow for more accurate water readings to be taken. Replacing the current system with a digital one will cost between $500,000 and $600,000, a cost the city will cover, and would be done over five years. Workers are about done with replacing a downtown water main that was more than a century old. Roads are being paved and improved, including several that were partially funded by the state’s Community Crossings grant program. The last of those, paving and widening part of County Road 400 West between Phoenix Drive and 12th Street, was awarded last month to Milestone Contractors of Bloomington for $1,085,000. Other projects include rebuilding Washington Street and a portion of Seventh Street, and repaving a part of 11th Street. “We can’t lose focus of the day-to-day operations,” Spinner said. “There are still services the city is responsible for providing, and they are still being addressed.” Several projects that will use Stellar money are in the works. Those projects encourage people to be active, something that many people are looking to do more of. “People want to be mobile,” Spinner said. “More and more people are pursuing an active lifestyle. They want to get outside

This rendering shows the plans for 147 new homes at Hunters Crossing, a subdivision planned to be built on a tract of land near Chestnut Street between 12th and 19th streets in Huntingburg. or just be active.” The city is looking at creating the Heritage Trail that will let walkers and bikers go from the city’s north side to the downtown area and, eventually, further south. Parts of that trail will be built using Stellar money. “If you live in a subdivision up north, to get from there to Fourth Street, you must cross two highways and a railroad track,” Spinner said. “With this system in place, you could go on the sidewalk and go over the railroad and under the highway safely. You don’t have to cross a railroad track or a state highway. You can get all the way to downtown without those two barriers.” Although it is not being funded with Stellar money, the walking trail that will run along the east side of the overpass will be a part of the trail. The portion of the trail that will run in downtown — the Fourth Street Heritage Trail — is included in a revamp of Fourth Street between Geiger and Jackson streets, which is a Stellar project. The design calls for a 12-foot-wide sidewalk, an 8-foot parking lane and a 10-foot driving lane on each side of the street. There will also be flex options that a business could use to convert some of the sidewalk or the parking lane into an alternate use, like outdoor seating. The street will also have design elements for lighting, drainage and overall aesthetics that are being determined by a project committee. Because the project affects the downtown area, which is a historic district, the project needed approval by the Indiana Historic Preservation Review Board. In addition, merchants along Fourth Street have also been involved in determining the street’s design, as their opinions and concerns have been solicited by the city.

“Based on the schedule, we are anticipating the project to reach final design by December,” Spinner said. The goal is for construction to start in the spring of 2018, with completion by October 2018. “It may not be 100 percent complete. But it will be functional and operational,” Spinner said. “The street will be usable for pedestrian and vehicular traffic for the Christmas Stroll (which is in November).” Connecting the trail from the overpass to the trail in nearby Niehaus Park, just south of State Road 64, is another project. The pedestrian element of the overpass project ends at Seventh Street. State Road 64 is Sixth Street, and south of State Road 64 is Niehaus Park “There is an elevation challenge there,” Spinner explained. “Niehaus Park is about 15 feet below State Road 64. If you’re driving on 64 and you look over at Niehaus Park, you will see tops of the light fixtures So, officials decided that the trail would continue south and go underneath the state road via an underpass. “The concept was that the trail would go from Seventh Street toward the park, and go down to an underpass under State Road 64,” Spinner said. “It would slant down, go under the highway and connect into Niehaus Park.” The underpass would be included with the project that is to be done to create what is termed a community gateway. “Community Gateways are the signature entryways into the city that compliment all the other work that is going on,” Spinner said. “One of those gateways was to be located at State Road 64 and Styline Drive, because that is the western entry point to the city.” The underpass project is just starting to be worked on by a committee that is seeking

a design engineer. The timing of the project is tied with the other Stellar projects that are underway,” Spinner said. “We had to have the overpass project going to know exactly what the design was to meet at Seventh Street,” he said. “The Market Street and Fourth Street projects were important too, because we want the look and feel of what is our downtown to be consistent with the entryways.” The goal is aesthetic cohesiveness. “We want our gateways to be consistent with what’s at the park and what’s on Fourth Street,” he said. “The look, the feel, the textures — we want that to carry throughout the community.” Several gateways are planned to be installed, he said. Stemming off Fourth Street will be a new park, behind Old Town Hall between Third and Fourth streets. Market Street Park will have, on its north end, a plaza with tables and seating, a lawn terrace with seating and a performance pavilion. The park’s center, just east of Old Town Hall, will have a terrace with seating, a market pavilion with a walkway and curbless parking on either side. The fountain that sits near U.S. 231 will remain. The south end of the park will include a walkway that will be called a legacy court, a legacy wall, a south lawn and a ring-shaped walkway that will have features like a pergola and community swings. The park’s $4-million cost will be covered by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs’ Community Development Block Grant money appropriated to Huntingburg through its Stellar Communities designation, local tax incremental funds, economic development income tax funds and private monies committed by local partners. Spinner said construction on the park should start sometime in August or early September, and be substantially completed in May 2018. Work on the High-Speed Huntingburg Fiber Broadband project continues. PerrySpencer Communications started that project last October, and has completed the first phase, installing lines for the downtown central area and a northwest portion of the city. The second phase, which will include all other areas of the city, will start this fall. The company opened an office in the city, on Fourth Street, in July. Another Stellar project that is being studied is relocating the street department out of the floodplain and into a building that will also house an emergency shelter for the county. “That project had been on hold. But with the recent flooding, the street department was adversely affected,” Spinner said. “We are now in the process of re-examining that.” A study will be done to see if the former Fox Metal and Truss building on West 19th Street would be suitable for the department and shelter. Dubois County is partnering with the city on the project. “The county pledged half a million dollars to Stellar. And this is the project that they would like to see their investment go toward,” Spinner said, “ because it does have a countywide effect with emergency management facilities in there.” Although there are several Stellar projects in the works, Spinner reiterated that the projects are not taking money away from the city departments. “Nothing in Stellar has affected the budgets of the departments in a negative way,” he said. “We’ve tried to keep all the funding for these as a combination of economic development income tax, TIP, private contributions and state dollars.”

These renderings show the facelifts that Huntingburg’s Stellar Community project will bring to Market Street, left, and Fourth Street.



Not fast, but not slow, Ferdinand is growing By ALLEN LAMAN FERDINAND — The town of Ferdinand is growing. Not too fast, and not too slow, but steadily, it’s growing. The past year has seen the completion of a slew of road and sidewalk projects, the finalization of phase one of the phosphorus removal plant and the start of work on the facility’s drying beds, as well as the introduction of new endeavors including the planning of a trail around Old Town Lake, construction on an apartment complex and the early approval stages of an assisted and senior living facility that could be located on the grounds of the Monastery Immaculate Conception. Town Manager Chris James and Town Council President Ken Sicard both agree that a good starting place for town progress is rooted in attracting developers to the area to bring in more housing. Randy Begle with Begle Properties is currently building an apartment building that could eventually be part of a four-building complex — Royal Ridge apartments — that will house one- and two-bedroom units. Construction on the first building began in March and is slated to wrap up in December. Both James and Sicard said a young developer is perusing the area for land to build on. In addition to this housing, a letter of intent has also been signed by Trilogy Health Services, LLC, and the Sisters of St. Benedict to lease 8 acres of their monastery property for a proposed new nursing facility. The operation would offer skilled nursing, assisted living, regular nursing home care, and rehabilitation services to the public and the sisters. A contract has not yet been signed, and Trilogy did not return a request for comment by press time. Roadwork was also a big part of the town’s projects in 2016, and it could continue to be for the next year. As part of the Indiana Department of Transportation’s Community Crossings grant program, the

Construction on the first of four Royal Ridge apartment buildings began in March. The apartments are located on North Leaf Drive off of Industrial Park Road in Ferdinand. SARAH ANN JUMP THE HERALD

town received approval for 18 specific projects in the past year, many of which have dealt with upgrades to accessibility and Americans with Disabilities Act improvements, such as a 6-foot-wide sidewalk along Fifth Street abutting Fifth Street Park and connecting 18th Street and Fifth Street parks via a new sidewalk along Virginia Street. Street Superintendent Tom Lueken submitted an application last month for two, new projects he hopes to complete in the next year. The first would stretch from State Road 162 to Industrial Park Road on West 23rd Street, and the second would be on Scenic Hills Industrial Drive from West Third Street to Industrial Park Road. INDOT will announce if the grants are approved later this month. The total cost for the projects would be approximately $720,000. If the Community Crossings grants are approved, the town would pay 25

percent of that cost, or about $180,000. The town also began the construction of the phosphorus removal plant required by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management in April, and work on the facility is slated to wrap up in October. In June, work was completed on a chemical facility at the town’s wastewater treatment plant. The equipment is operating, and construction on the facility’s drying beds is ongoing. Ferdinand received both a loan and a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Office of Rural Development to pay for the $2.2-million project. The loan is for $1,172,000, and its interest rate is 1.875 percent. It will be repaid over 40 years. The grant is for $940,000. Recently, the Town Council has also been working through the planning stages of converting the Old Town Lake into a park and placing a walking trail around the water. Recent businesses that have opened in

town include Maggie’s Gift Emporium near the intersection of Highway 162 and Industrial Park Road on Ferdinand’s south side and Quality Mill Supply Company on Leaf Drive. ProRehab PC — a physical therapy office — will open in Ferdinand in August. Construction on a building that will house Knu Contract’s office and engineering center on Industrial Drive is also ongoing. James said the town is blessed with a good economy, and good people to keep it looking in tip-top shape as it pushes forward. “It’s sort of ideal America in a way, right here in Southern Indiana,” said Town Manager Chris James. “We let the town showcase itself. The employees that we have from our utilities to the street and the parks and the police and fire, they make the town run well and look well, so when visitors come in ... they don’t have to wonder about the stability of the town.”



Grants giving opportunity to ‘secure our future’ By BILL POWELL BIRDSEYE — Councilwoman Kelly Wiseman says the desire to constantly grow and progress has always been present in Birdseye but now it can be paired with opportunity. That opportunity comes in the form of available grant programs. Birdseye has landed a big grant for water system upgrades that are about to get underway and small grants to aid town park improvements like a walking trail. An effort by a dedicated group of volunteers to stabilize and possibly revive the former Koerner Commercial Block building at 101 State Road 145 could someday benefit from a grant and there is a real possibility that a grant will make a new Birdseye fire station a reality. “I’ve been chasing a fire department grant for years,” Wiseman says. Now, she adds, one just might be available. As for the water system, ever since town officials traveled to the Indiana Statehouse rotunda to accept a $450,000 grant Jan. 26, utility personnel have been rating water meters, checking pressures on lines and otherwise laying the groundwork to make improvements to a system where most mains went into the ground in the 1960s. Birdseye is going to use its grant to replace customers’ water meters, gain a new connection to the Patoka Lake Regional Water and Sewer District to increase water pressure, and change some valves. New water meters will feature automated meter-reading technology. A hand-held meter-reading device will then download monthly consumption data into a Town Hall computer. Utility Superintendent Bob Morrow says new valves will allow for dividing the town at least into quadrants to isolate future main breaks. The bids submitted for the project will likely determine the number of new valves that will be installed The water project also brings the potential for growth in the Birdseye area, according to Councilman Clyde Huff. Areas of the water system outside of town that had been maxed out will now have capacity. “It wouldn’t just be a connection to the water system,” Wiseman says. “It would be a connection to the community.” Birdseye’s current push forward includes everything from the new Birdseye


A crowd gathered to watch the 3-on-3 basketball tournament during the town of Birdseye’s annual picnic at Birdseye Park. Family Dollar store to a heartening amount of volunteerism, which is on display at the Birdseye Conservation Club west of town. The community’s conservation club has upgraded its air conditioning and made major improvements to the building’s exterior, including the installation of new double glass doors on three entrances and a single glass door on a kitchen entrance. “Talk about a facelift!” Wiseman says. “Plus,” she added, “they are completely remodeling the ‘chicken house’ where they cook.” Future upgrades could one day include camping sites, according to the councilwoman. Wiseman says she would like Birdseye to one day become a tourist draw. There could be bed and breakfasts, she said, and Birdseye could become like Nashville in Brown County.

“We’re 5 minutes from Patoka Lake and 20 minutes from Holiday World and Jasper,” Wiseman says. “We’re a great location as far as people coming from all directions to, especially, go to Patoka Lake. With Birdseye’s history of being a hotbed of musical talent, Huff says, maybe placing an opry someplace, like inside the Koerner Commercial Block, could go over big. During recent council meetings, the town council has sent out warning letters for unmown grass and trash accumulation violations. Ordinances covering those issues have been updated. “We’re trying to clean up,” Wiseman says. “The big thing is maintain the town and do your own part,” Huff says. “Most people do.” Wiseman says the water grant will be one stepping stone to a brighter future.

Before the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs’ Community Development Block Grant program made it possible to plan for upgrades, Wiseman says, Birdseye could do little more than apply Band-Aids. The town has never had the tax base needed to grow as fast as other communities. Even now, it has taken years of frugality and saving to have the cash on hand for the local matches the grants require. “These grants aren’t free,” Wiseman says. “There’s always money attached to these grants that the town has to come up with.” But the grants are “greatly appreciated,” said President Jerry Allstott. Huff’s goal is to see his grandchildren stay in the Birdseye area and build houses. “That’s the intent,” Wiseman says. “Secure our future.”

Town’s progress potential: Check, check and check By BILL POWELL HOLLAND — If given a clipboard and asked to mark everything the Town of Holland has in place for progress, Town Council President Tom Thacker would reel off a flurry of check marks. School? “We’ve got a great school,” Thacker says. Community spirit? “We’ve got great community pride,” he says. Park? Fire protection? Check and check, followed by more “greats” attributed to the council president. There’s a new lift station providing growth potential and a community day care drawing parents from surrounding towns and counties, Thacker says. And, even though the council president says this proposal is in its infancy, a group has even talked about building houses on some of Holland’s vacant lots. “We need to be able to accommodate them with our water and sewer capacity,” Thacker says. So the only asterisk in his assessment is next to a line marked utilities. “Our utilities are in pretty good condition, except for the water towers,” Thacker says, adding that a number of water lines in town have been replaced, as have all of Holland’s water valves. Remedying the water tower issue will mean a rate hike. Holland is collecting proposals from multiple companies for either rehabilitating an existing 20,000-gallon water tower servicing Stendal or building a new, 50,000-gallon tower. And Holland’s 200,000-gallon tower needs


The Holland Commons hosted a Will Read and Sing For Food event. rehabilitation, too. Two proposals are in and one more is expected. The town is still waiting to hear back from two additional firms who have been contacted about proposals. Getting a grant could be a long shot but, if the town applies for one, that could happen in early 2018. Holland might forego getting a grant and hiring an engineer and decide to just commission work on its own, according to Thacker. Holding costs down will mean keeping rates low. Thacker says the town is trying to make the process as competitive as possible and tackle only what must be done. To plan for orderly growth, Holland is once again looking into comprehensive planning and zoning. Holland had looked into comprehensive

planning and zoning as a long-term guide for Holland’s growth about 12 years ago. That proposal, which would have also regulated a two-mile fringe, drew significant criticism and was shelved. “I have pulled out the plan from 2005 to see about what can be used there,” Thacker says. “I think we need to keep this as simple as possible yet meet our goal of protecting property owner’s properties.” The plan now is to consider addressing only Holland’s corporate limit. “We’ve been slow with getting this going as we’ve been mostly concentrating on our water system,” Thacker says. Still, he adds, just a few phone calls “when we’re ready to push this forward” should round up enough residents willing to serve on a seven-mem-

ber Holland planning board. “Being able to limit what goes in certain areas of town will keep the value of property up where it should be,” Thacker says. “Also, getting heavy trucks off the town streets will let the other town streets last much longer and in turn will help us with our cost of infrastructure.” Thacker likes where Holland sits at the moment, and he’s not just talking about being 3 miles from an interstate and situated between Jasper and Evansville. An active Holland Events Committee has grown an annual Holland Community Fest from a one-night street party into a major festival and the committee’s members are putting the finishing touches on Phase 1 an Indiana Bicentennial Legacy Project known as Holland Commons. The Commons was totally devised and built by the events committee using funding from individuals, businesses and the Dubois County Community Foundation. Holland Events Committee President Andrea Peters says the Commons is thanks to the vision of HEC member Lee Bilderback, the designs of her husband, Aaron Peters, and HEC members like Sharon Springston, Bev Schmutzler and Elaine Hunefeld who reached out to businesses and individuals in the community and who wrote grant applications. The fact the Commons was made possible by generous donors — not tax money — makes her even more proud “of our little town.” Not only that, Thacker says, Prairie Farms Dairy continues to grow in Holland. “I’ve got to believe there is potential for growth,” Thacker says, especially when it comes to housing within Holland’s corporate limits and fringe areas within reach of the community’s utilities.



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In small towns, sense of identity a big deal By JASON RECKER When rain canceled the day’s work and hunger signaled the need for lunch, construction workers Ethan Knust and Anthony Fischer knew where to go: Arnie’s Tavern. They’d been there before. They’ll be back soon. There’s not an overload of bustle in the small town of St. Anthony, but there’s a pulse that’s ebbed and flowed over the last few years. There’s the bad — Hasenour Motor Company closed, the Old National Bank branch shut down, the elementary school is only a shell. And the good — St. Anthony Mill is going strong, Berg’s Garage down the highway does well, same goes for Ernie’s Welding Shop. As growth in Dubois County is often focused on the closest things we have to metropolises (Jasper, Huntingburg, Ferdinand), the small towns outside the population centers are more than intersections and map dots and places where the speed limit dips for a few hundred yards. Places like St. Anthony, Dubois and Ireland are trying their best to remain independent. Their identity means everything and in the unyielding move to remain distinguished, there are anchors like Arnie’s. The bar Arnie’s went by other names before it became property of Arnie Welp in 2001, but the building has been around since the 1960s and it’s always been a bar and it’s always been across from St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, up the hill from the community center and down the road from the fire station. Kind of the epicenter of chatter and rumor and gossip. Just what a bar ought to be. “I’m here once or twice a week,” said Knust, a 21-year-old St. Anthony native, eating lunch and sipping a schooner on a July afternoon after rain washed out his day’s duties as a construction worker. “I remember when I was little, we’d go to church on Saturdays then come over here to eat.” Knust was a member of the final graduating class at St. Anthony Elementary, the school that closed in 2006. His siblings were shipped east down State Road 64 to Pine Ridge Elementary and he doesn’t remember being too torn up about it, but Welp acknowledges that residents did feel punched to the gut by the school and Hasenour’s and the bank closing. Welp and Knust are separated by a generation — Welp is 50 and Knust barely old enough to step in the bar — but both point out that St. Anthony has maintained a sense of pride because of the fire department’s annual ball, the mill, the garage, the community center, the church. Knust has heard from folks that St. Anthony is home to some beautiful landscape. Welp hears some of the same from construction employees, contractors who stroll into his business as well as the regulars who like the specials (stromboli on Tuesdays, hot wings on Wednesdays and turkey ribs or pizza on alternating Thursdays). The breaded tenderloin is a hit. For catering, patrons like the grilled chicken thighs and grilled pork steak. “Something simple and something reasonable,” Welp said. On the Thursday when Knust and Fischer, a 23-year-old from Ferdinand who occasionally visits Arnie’s, the mid-afternoon crowd was light. There’s room for 24 on the bar side and 28 in the dining room. A few hours later, many of those seats filled. Folks wanted a place to eat, a place to talk, a place to be. “The people,” Welp said of what makes his place and his town. “The biggest thing is the people. ... We’re moving in the right direction. I don’t see the town dying. Just keep going.” The school Shawn Dooley knows that if his four children were educated in a more urban setting and in a larger school district, it’s likely they’d encounter opportunities they won’t get with the Northeast Dubois school system. But he grew up in Carmel, where specialized classes are common but familiarity with peers is not. He’ll take the trade.


Tony Messmer of Schnellville, left, Steffi Schmuecker of Ferdinand, center, Dave Mitchell of Schnellville, left, and Clyde Huff of Birdseye, bottom, played euchre during the euchre tournament last year at the Schnellville Community Club in Schnellville. About $600 was raised from the dinner and tournament to go toward construction of two new bathrooms at the community club. Dooley married a Northeast Dubois High School graduate and when given the option of where he and the former Angie Betz would raise their kids, the decision required little thought. “In Carmel, the identity isn’t there,” said Dooley, who was one of nearly 650 people in his graduating class. When he was a senior at Carmel High School, the freshman class consisted of more than 1,000 students. “I didn’t know people in my own class and very few in other classes and I didn’t like that. There’s no sense of community. That’s why I wanted to get to a small town. You don’t have all the AP math and science classes, but my kids know everyone in their class, they’re related to a lot of kids, they knew kids in classes above and below them, they know all their teachers and there’s no anxiety, they know people in the community.” The Dooleys moved to Dubois just a few miles from the town that’s home to an elementary, middle and high school as well as the corporation office and the Ruritan park run by the club of which Dooley is a member. They wanted to be close enough that they can take their annual Christmas Eve walk into a restaurant called Hot Spot for a family meal. The town includes a bank, a gas station and two other places to eat. With families buzzing through town going to and from school and school-related functions, there’s always activity in Dubois despite the fact that the population in 2010 was estimated at 488. Dooley was active in Save the Jeeps, a movement that urged voters last fall to OK a referendum to raise taxes in the district with the money being flagged for the schools. The measure passed with 70 percent of the vote and, because of it, the small elementary school up the road in Celestine remains open and no teachers were laid off. To Dooley, shutting down schools and the possibility of consolidation is the worstcase scenario, not just for Northeast Dubois but for other small districts. He said the people involved with Save the Jeeps learned from a failed referendum in Pike County that led the shuttering of Otwell’s elementary. Where that small town goes is to be determined. Dooley doesn’t want to face that same uncertainty. “The way (the state) tied funding to enrollment, over time, it will push us that way,” Dooley said. “Some elementaries would have to stay, but once you lose a high school, that is the identity for a lot of these towns. Once school goes, it takes so many people out of the community who are there during the work week spending money, doing business. You’d lose that. You’d struggle to find something to fill that void.” The vision As Jasper grows westward, the boundary between the city and the neighboring town of Ireland becomes hazier by the

month. Maybe it’s where Bainbridge Township (Jasper) and Madison Township (Ireland) meet. Maybe it’s where what’s known as the Brescher Addition and Brookstone subdivision has risen. Maybe it’s the actual signs that welcome drivers into Ireland. Whatever the point, this much is clear: There is no buffer. Eventually, Ireland will become Jasper by way of annexation, guesses Chase Rudolph, a 34-year-old who lives in Indianapolis but remains loyal to his family’s Ireland roots. “This happens all the time around the

United States,” Rudolph said. “Look at any major city. You are in the downtown area, get in a car and within a few miles you are driving through what used to be a small town on the outskirts of the city, but now it is called a neighborhood. Some are very dominate in their looks with special road signs, light poles, the type of houses built, along with their layouts. Others just blend in with one another. The difference is, some of these small towns made a plan and said, ‘We might become part of the city, but we won’t lose our identity.’” Such a plan what Rudolph, by way of a group called Ireland Vision, has started. The group passed out information and gathered feedback at the town’s bicentennial last summer and wants to build on what is already a strong base — the Ireland Lions Club, the Ireland Knights of Columbus, the committee that organizes the annual St. Patrick’s Festival, trademark eateries like the Chicken Place and The Rock, a strong Little League baseball program and an elementary school that always posts high scores and lures students from families who don’t live in Ireland. Rudolph wants more. His family owns land adjacent to Ireland Elementary and he’d like to see a park there. Even more, he has visions of a trail connecting Ireland with Jasper by way of 36th Street/County Road 300N and St. Mary Church in Ireland, past the school and back through the neighborhoods built in the fields that once separated the town from the city. He likes the idea of Jasper and Ireland being linked. That doesn’t mean Ireland has to give up what it’s built and what could be added. “It shouldn’t be about division anymore, but how can Jasper and Ireland complement each other?” Rudolph said. “The writing is on the wall and we can see the future. You can’t stop it, so all you can do is embrace it with arms wide open and plan accordingly to protect and insure the identity isn’t lost.”



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Seitz: Jasper ‘will be a regional community’ By LEANN BURKE JASPER — Jasper Mayor Terry Seitz says it’s a good time to be mayor of Jasper. Right now, private developers are investing millions of dollars into projects in Jasper, and the city has its own projects — most notably the Parklands and Jasper Cultural Center — underway that Seitz thinks will improve Jasper’s quality of place. All the projects are part of a period of growth Jasper is currently experiencing. The Herald talked with Seitz about that growth and what it means for Jasper. Last time we talked, you mentioned you see Jasper as a regional city. Do you think it’s going to continue to step into that role more, and what does that mean? Realistically, when you look at what is in place here as an employment center and you look at how our companies are diversified, we have a great amount of diversity. I think that education is critical. We have to look at even greater participation in our community from Vincennes University Jasper Campus. To that end, I’ve had conversations at this campus and personal visits to the main campus. It’s got to get stronger and better. Ultimately, that has to be another asset of our community that gets played up more. We have a health care center that is certainly even more regional than Jasper is as an employment center. I generally talk about a seven-county (employment) region. They have a nine-county region. And you look at the investment they’re making in the continuity clinic (for medical residencies). Those residents that practice here will be reaching into the parts of our community that need that type of care, perhaps at a reduced cost because they are practicing as residents. I’m excited about that. I think with what the investments are, what the continued need and drive for jobs is and what we have in place already, we will be a regional community for the foreseeable future and likely will be the greatest driver in the southwest-central part of Indiana. When you look at our businesses, what do you see? I think from a local point of view, you’ll find it’s a great time to start a small busi-

Jasper Mayor Terry Seitz. ness, whether it be service or retail. If you need space, rents are more competitive than ever. We have more people to serve. It may be something you have to do with a few less employees than what you planned, but it’s a really good time to be in local business because the community is growing. People are expecting more business amenities, and there are niches that are being applied in a lot of different ways. People are working out of homes or collaborating with neighbors in what I would call really small startups. I think it’s important that they’re occurring because they’re filling a need, and we’ll have lot of needs to fill as this community grows. And we have to support and sustain the businesses that we have so they have room to grow and service new customers. That’s crucial. You mentioned that we still have needs to fill. What are they? I laughingly say on the retail side that we should get one of those springboard places — those indoor trampoline places. We have buildings. Put in some trampolines and go. That’s a possibility. I still think we have some opportunities in family-centered businesses. I think you’ll see some changes in the shopping centers in those anchor spaces being changed into smaller spaces. The Chamber has a small business develop-

ment center, and Dubois Strong has money to lend to startups. It’s really important that that gets used. We want that to happen. As more people move into Jasper, does it follow that we’ll become a more diverse population? I think we have. I had some visitors from Germany here, and they’re here for a family wedding. That represents such an important aspect of Jasper. I would never want to have that forgotten. But I also realize that we are not only the German Catholic community that we have been. People think of us as German; people think of us as Roman Catholic ... but I look at Redemption Christian Church that (grew) in 10 or 12 years, and who would have ever thought we’ve got to do this? They were meeting a need. ... In the workforce, you have adjustments you have to make because of language, but skills can be learned. Nobody is saying that the diversity hasn’t impacted the workforce in a positive way. It’s just a natural part of society. I point to our heritage in the wood furniture manufacturing industry. If they had continued to operate the way they did in 1995, these companies would not be here today. They embraced a new market and they reinvested in their businesses, and they’re here today. We’re the same way as a city. Obviously there’s a lot going on now,

projects wise. Is it going to slow down? If you ask my wife, she’ll probably say my mind never quits. But I’m also cognizant that because of the size of some of the things that have happened ... there’s some time. I think the Courthouse Square is one those (to wait). It’s going to occur at some point. It’s still a project that has both economic development and infrastructure needs that need to be addressed. ... In the city, we have (the schools). That will be one change that’s coming our way. That’s two elementary schools in the primary part of the city that aren’t there as schools. (Greater Jasper Schools hopes to build a new elementary school for 750 students on the more than 16 acres of corporation-owned land north of Jasper Middle School. The move would close Fifth and Tenth Street schools.) I think there’s the possibility of some additional interest in the downtown ... because of the Cultural Center being done and the River Centre’s potential success. I think we’ve seen that with Servus! They want to be downtown. We’re happy to keep that corporate headquarters (in the city). And then in the programming or events aspects. Those are a little bit smaller scale, but those occur because of what’s happening now. So probably not slowing down, but repositioning a bit. So it sounds like for you progress is a sign of a healthy city? Bingo. If you’re not progressing, you’re going backwards. I always felt that the Good Lord did not create us to be inert creatures, just kind of hanging around life to see what’s happening. He created us to be active, to be involved, to circulate, not for malicious purposes, but for good. I truly believe cities are for good, and we have truly taken what city assets we have and leveraged them. And you have the cheerleaders and fans like you saw (during the Give Where You Live campaign). It spoke volumes because people just wanted to do something. That’s when you know — when you see that or the names on the bricks at the (train) depot — people believed in that. Those bricks were $25. That was $25 that may have been very hard earned. Maybe they didn’t spend that $25 on something they really needed because they wanted to do (something) for the greater good. And that’s what being a mayor is all about: the greater good.

Spinner: City positioned for significant progress By CANDY NEAL Huntingburg Mayor Denny Spinner is proud of the progress that is being made in the city. With a few projects in the works and others on the horizon, Spinner welcomes the different ideas and challenges the city faces as it takes advantage of its Stellar designation to become a city like no other. Overall, are you happy with how the city is progressing? Yes, I am happy with how the city is progressing. With the support of the community and the support of the council, we have been very aggressive in making progress in how the city does business. We’ve paid a lot of attention to the infrastructure needs. We’ve really focused on making sure that we have invested in the right things to make sure our city continues to provide the essential services that is the city’s job to do. We’ve invested in our water, wastewater, streets, electric — all those basic services. So we are in a position to really have significant progress in the next few years. Since being in office and in charge of the city, what kinds of challenges have you had to face, especially those you didn’t expect? The great thing about this job is that there are challenges almost every day that you don’t expect. But I don’t see challenges as being a negative thing. You look at our Stellar effort. There were challenges in putting together this Stellar proposal that are great challenges, because it is a matter of taking the vision that we’ve seen from our community and creating a program that carries that out. So there are challenges of different kinds almost every day in this job. Some challenges are in solving a problem that is difficult. But some of them are

Huntingburg Mayor Denny Spinner. in creating new opportunities for the community to grow. The process of making government work is a lot more challenging because of the processes you have to follow. I expected that, but I didn’t fully know the depth of the process. When you’re dealing with the public’s money, there are processes that you must follow, and should follow, to assure that you are using tax money in a wise way. But that

also creates challenges in making projects happen in a more timely manner. (In June), we opened bids for our project for the Market Street Park. We were awarded the Stellar designation in 2014, and in June of 2017 we are at the point where we can bid the project. There’s been a lot of work and process by which this has happened, which is all due process that you must have. The timeliness of your response to issues is challenging because of the due process you must do as government. In private industry, you can make a decision on something like this and move forward. Here there is a lot more detail that needs to be done. And that’s probably one of the things I didn’t fully expect. What is your vision for Huntingburg beyond Stellar? The whole idea of Stellar was to enhance Huntingburg as a place to live and to work. I think we have set the stage for Huntingburg being a quality place to live. So the vision beyond Stellar is to continue to do the things from a physical nature that make our city stronger. But I think the larger challenge is to address the more human needs in our community. There is a need for increased health care in our community. There is a need for increased housing opportunities at all levels. There is a need for better communication and collaboration with our growing Hispanic population. All these are things that are quality-of-life issues. When we speak of quality of life, so many times we think of projects, like parks. But these are quality-of-life issues that I think are truly quality-of-life issues. And I believe that this community is prepared to address those issues in a very positive way and continue to make Huntingburg a very attractive place to live. Beyond meeting the physical needs of the community, infrastructure and such things, we need to meet the

other human needs that are in our community. That’s what will truly make us Stellar. If you didn’t have any restrictions, what would you like to see happen in Huntingburg? What would you like to have in the city? What would the city look like in your ideal world? There are so many things that I would want Huntingburg to be that are beyond the physical things we could present in the city. There are things that I wish for our community to have, such as vital business community in the downtown and the traditional retail to be just as vibrant — a unique shopping experience, but also the retail that meets the daily needs of our citizens. If there were no restrictions, I would like to have a town that we wouldn’t need a police department, where there is no crime. But that’s wishing beyond reality. I wish for an open and caring community — and many of these characteristics are here — for anyone who wants to come to Huntingburg to start a life and raise a family. I want everyone to feel welcomed. I want there to be an opportunity for them to have a job that is fulfilling for them, for them to have a home that is clean and safe, for recreational opportunities for their family — all those things that take the quality of life to the highest level, in a way that’s uniquely Huntingburg. It is the small town flavor that so many people do enjoy. The people who live in Huntingburg choose to live in Huntingburg, because this is what they want. And I hope that Huntingburg would be the kind of place that would be inviting for families to not only grow in but to stay in. I want our city to invite newcomers in and make them feel so welcomed that they say, ‘This is the kind of place that I want to be in and raise my family.’ I want them to be a part of a vibrant and exciting, but yet still safe, environment.



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Dubois Strong: ‘We’ve got everything you need here’ By LEANN BURKE JASPER — Dubois Strong President Ed Cole spends his days immersed in economic development and how to grow Dubois County. Lately, he’s been focused on the Midstate Corridor — a proposed four-lane highway to make shipping to the north from Dubois County easier — and workforce attraction. The Herald talked to Cole about what Dubois Strong is doing to help businesses grow and to attract the population the county needs to continue to progress. Let’s start with the Midstate Corridor. Where are we with that? Hank Menke, the CEO of OFS Brands, has lead that steering committee. What we’re focusing on in Dubois County is starting down at the Dale intersection and going around Huntingburg on the east side. That’s the preferred route. Then going on the east side here at Jasper, just kind of behind (Vincennes University Jasper Campus), and then going north up to Haysville. That’s the route we want to focus on because we believe if we can get the road extended from Dale, going four lanes across, that that 21 miles will be the catalyst to get it farther north. Once it gets out of Dubois County, there’s going to be a lot of discussion (on where it should go). But our focus is on that because we really believe it will be a key to industry growth. Senate Bill 128 passed to allow counties to create Regional Development Authorities that can create funds specifically for regional infrastructure projects. We’re working on the makeup of what that is. The steering committee has formed a smaller committee to do the nuts and bolts of that. So we would start with the first section in Dubois County? Yeah. We want to look at how to bring it from the south. What’s the timeline? We (the steering committee) think we can have that RDA (Regional Development Authority) in place by the end of the year. That will allow us to start soliciting funds

from private entities. We’re asking, and it’s a big ask, for them to put as much of that money in upfront as they can, rather than stretch it out over (the 20 years). We think it’s going to be 20 to 25 years for bonding purposes and about $300 million to Cole go the 21 miles. Best case scenario (for the road) is five years. Worst case scenario, who knows. But we think the next two to five years will be critical in being able to show we can move this thing forward. You guys have a Facebook ad campaign operating to attract workforce. How’s that going? We’re not overachieving in that, but we feel like we’ve got a strong message that’s getting a lot of exposure. The problem with that is we’ve only been doing it since the middle of February. We believe when it comes to advertising dollars, we’re doing quite well. We’re having a little bit of struggle trying to (measure the success). Let me explain how it works. If you’re between the ages of 25 and 45 in one of our targeting zip codes in Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky, you’re going to see an ad that says “Dubois County is a great place to live and work,” and it’ll have a picture of some sort. We’re trying to hit those demographics that say if you’re unemployed some place else, why? Move here and get a job. They click on that ad, and takes them to our jobs page with our top 15 employers. You click on one, and it takes you to their jobs page. Here’s where it gets difficult. We want people to be driven (to the company’s pages), but it doesn’t occur in a vacuum. We don’t know how many (clicks) on their page came from our page. So it’s not always apples to apples. So how are you measuring that? How many (Facebook) likes, how many unique views, how many have gone from the Facebook page to our page, how many people have clicked on a particular indus-

try. We can measure all of that. I assume you’re getting more hits? We are, ridiculously more. And at least according to the marketing company it’s a very solid and slightly above average number of people clicking from Facebook to our page. You guys publish a list of achievements every year. I saw on there you have some type of loans? We have an enterprise loans fund (that) started with a United States Department of Agriculture program — the Regional Entrepreneurial Grant. It’s a loan program meant for entrepreneurs. Here’s the best scenario for us. You’re starting a business. You go to the bank to do a home equity loan, and the bank says how about a loan of $20,000. But you really need $40,000 to get the doors open to whatever you’re doing. You’ve already put together a business plan and had several folks look over it and run the numbers. You come to us and say, ‘I need that other $20,000. The bank’s giving me $20,000.’ That’s the perfect scenario for us. We call that a gap loan where we can fill that gap. You can get a loan from us one of two ways. You can do that gap loan I described, or if you get an outright no from the bank. You bring us the bank’s refusal letter and your business plan, we can do that, too. We’ve been doing this now for about 10 years, and we’ve never had a loan default. What else is going on? We’re doing something called the Neighborhood Assistance Program (through the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority). We know that as time goes by we’ll need to provide funds for down payment assistance. We’re partnering with Tri-Cap on this. You get up to $4,000 toward a down payment. And we’ve got between $2,000 and $2,500 set aside for home repair. There’s times if your furnace pukes, if your roof is leaking, you can get something as opposed to having nothing. And these are just straight-up grants. Another thing is Tour of Opportunity. We’re looking to get eighth grades from across the county tours of local industry.

It’s our understanding that in eighth grade you start to determine if you want to go for the four-year degree or do you want to go for the more hands-on, two-year vocational degree. We’re working with the Patoka Valley and Perry County Career and Technical Cooperative. We’ve also been working on shovel-ready sites. It’s a way of getting environmental and engineering studies of properties in place so it can be marketed as shovel-ready. We’re getting all that stuff done ahead of time so when you come and say, ‘I want to put my factory there,’ we can say, ‘Here’s the information. Go ahead.’ It cuts a lot of time (and cost) down. We’ve got three. We’ve got a Kimball property behind Sternberg’s car dealership. We’ve got one at the airport. And the new one is the former Mobil property in Ferdinand on the Industrial Park Road. Our biggest problem is that businesses that are looking to expand want an existing building for the most part. We’re all land. And we have 1.9 percent unemployment, and a lot of companies don’t want to locate somewhere they’ll have trouble hiring people. What’s in the future? Housing, workforce attraction and the Midstate Corridor are going to be around for a long time. We need population. We need more people to bring more workers and more people paying taxes. That’s really the critical thing. I would love to be able to do more Facebook campaigns and those types of things. Some of the industries have said to us IT and accounting is tough, so maybe we do a campaign for that. We’re going to be competing for workforce for now until ever. If we’re not telling our story correctly, then shame on us. What’s the story we need to be telling? We have tremendous quality of life, quality of place. We have excellent schools. We have a lower cost of living than living in Chicago. We understand young people when they get out of college say, ‘I’ve lived in Jasper or Ferdinand. I want to see the other side of the world.’ We’re OK with that. But when you want to have a family, come back to us. We’ve got everything you need here.

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Housing top of mind for town’s growth By ALLEN LAMAN FERDINAND — Ferdinand Town Manager Chris James has learned that sticking to the schedule isn’t possible. The former radio DJ is now the town’s most important communicator, relaying information from employees and residents to the town council. He likes the pace at which the town is growing, and is waiting for the dominos to start falling to kick off the construction of more housing. As Town Manager, what are your main responsibilities? I serve as a conduit to the council, both from commentary from the citizens if they call or email — “Why don’t we have this?” or “What are we going to do about that?” — and I’m also a conduit from the employees to the council. And vice versa. If there’s something going on where Council needs to be kept aware of a project that’s ongoing, I provide them updates and let them know that we’re to this point with (projects). I’m sort of a conduit up and down, and just try to answer everybody as best I can and keep everybody as happy as possible. Has the way you approach your work changed much since you started over three years ago? I’m still learning that there are things I need to learn. No two days are ever really the same, be it from a contact from a developer or someone to raise issue with grass being mowed onto the street and causing issue with the storm drains, and all manner of things in between. A lot of times I’ve come in (to work) thinking I’m going to work on two or three specific things. Maybe I do, and maybe I don’t. Just kind of ride the wave, and I was plenty used to that with radio. It sounds like you keep pretty busy. What does the active participation of the town’s residents signify? They’re invested. They know that Ferdinand is already at a certain level, and they want to make sure that we at no worse maintain that level, and preferably achieve more and become better. They want to make sure Ferdinand always has a positive connotation to it. When you think of the future of Ferdinand, what does it look like to you?

More housing is probably top of mind, not just for me but for Council. The unemployment level just in Dubois County is always the top one or two counties in the state in terms of lowest unemployment. Even though there is a (low) unemJames ployment level, there are jobs here. If a person wanted to work, they could find a job. Whether it’s at one of the factories, one of the fast food establishments, or somewhere else. There’s a position available. You’re starting to see that (housing) growth in Jasper with the different apartments, the workforce housing in Huntingburg, and we’re trying to do our part here in town. We’ve got a young individual who is working very hard to become a developer and work with a landowner to be able to actually construct some houses. And you’re trending in the right direction with the ongoing construction of the Royal Ridge Apartments. But how close are we to actually seeing some houses go up? We’re just looking for that — and I’ve said this pretty much from day one — that first domino to fall. As soon as we get Person X (developer) and Person Y (the land seller), once we make that first connection and the sale has been made and some construction begins, that will open up possibilities for other growth. Another person, another landowner might say, “Well, that person made a deal, that’s something I can look at a little more strongly now.” And once that first developer starts the wheel spinning, other developers will come back in and contact other landowners and say, “Would you be interested?” or “How can I get you interested?” And that would kind of revitalize their efforts a little bit in trying to grow a little bit more. Then, we would have more of that housing growth. That’s kind of what we’re shooting for right now. Any kind of houses the town needs the most? We’re open to anything. The preference, I think, is single-family structures because of that American dream thing. Owning your own home. Whether it’s a small, two

bedroom home for a starter family or one of these great, big golly-whopper houses that you never use all the rooms. We’ll be open to the development of it. Town Council President Ken Sicard envisions houses lining the bypass in town. Where do you think developments could pop up? Obviously, because (land) is private property, as a town, we can’t say you need to sell land to this person so they can build homes. But if we know that there is a potential interest, then we can put the two together and say, “Mr. Developer, here’s Mr. Landowner. You two talk.” What are they doing to get that domino to fall? And if you can find that magic price point — happy to sell, OK to buy — perfect. Probably growthwise, the east side of town and somewhat to the north there’s some ground, but a lot of that is still heavily agriculture and heavily used agriculture. And you’re not going to get some of those fields away from the farmers because they need it for their livelihood. Some of that is just not going to happen. But we’ll try to work with developer and landowner as best we can to put them together and then let them work it out. Then if they make the deal, we can work with the developer and say, “OK, what are you needing utilities or infrastructure wise?” And then we can start working on a plan of how can we help you build. We’ll take on some of the risk, you take on some of it, but it’s not just all laid right in your lap. We’ll work with you as best we can to offset some of those expenses. (Laying lines, building roads, etc.) You’re still getting what you want. We’re getting what we want. And the end result is homes constructed and people moving in. Are you reaching out to developers and trying to make contacts? What are you doing right now to make these housing wants happen? That is a tricky question to answer. We have in the past, via the Economic Development Commission, attempted to bring in developers to see what they needed and why Ferdinand was not getting the same attention as other areas. Response to meeting was lukewarm at best — land cost/availability concerns were cited, along with the type of homes to be built. Some local developers have found their “sweet spot” and don’t want to vary from it. Land in the Ferdinand area also has

a higher value than in many parts of the area, which makes doing a development deal tricky, because the owner and developer cannot find a price point that satisfies the owner, but still allows the developer the opportunity to have affordable lots they can sell. Concerning the young individual, he is doing considerable behind-the-scenes work, frequently speaking with the property owner and family members, trying to find that “magic number”, and from what I have gathered, after months of effort, is very close. Again, because the land is privately held, we can only do so much. He also has spoken with Ken (Sicard) on more than one occasion, trying to determine what assistance the town could provide toward infrastructure. Should he be successful with his plan, more detailed discussions will be held on how and/or what the Town could provide. We are in a “wait and see” mode for now. As much as we would like to have interested developers in town, council is not going to agree to any deal that could create a negative precedent toward future development- for the Town or developers. How does brain drain affect the town? We’re not dreamers that we think everybody who graduates will go to college and come right back to Ferdinand. We know that’s not going to happen. But let them get that first job somewhere else, experience different things, and then realize, “I like the pace of Ferdinand.” And then they come back, they’re back home, they’re familiar with the routines, they jump right back in to rooting for the Rangers, they start their family, and the cycle continues. And we slowly build the town. Would you say most Ferdinand residents are excited to see it grow? I think so. I’ve lived here 22 years now, and I think most folks like to see the small, incremental growth. They’re not going to necessarily jump up and down if somebody comes and says we’re going to develop this hundred acres out on the north side of town and it’s going to turn into two of these (stores), three of those (businesses), and some houses over here. I think they would like to see it like we’re doing it now. A little bit here, a little bit there. And never too big, just right. These answers have been shortened for brevity and clarity.

Sicard: Town has ‘the right people doing things’ By ALLEN LAMAN FERDINAND — Ferdinand Town Council President Ken Sicard is confident the town is moving forward. He has a vision that one day houses will line the Industrial Park Road bypass that loops around Ferdinand, bolstering the workforce, school system and town in general. Sicard said exactly how much longer he will remain on the council remains to be seen, but he doesn’t anticipate it being much longer than another term. Even when he’s not in his position, he hopes to see the town’s citizens remain motivated and continue pushing for growth in various areas. In the broadest sense, what ways do you see Ferdinand progressing forward now? Well, we continue to make ourselves more professional in everything we do. Trying to bring that business sense to the town dealings. We’re working very hard at trying to find additional housing, because not only does the town need people, but the school system needs people and businesses need people. And it all hinges itself around housing. Can we get that going? We’ve seen a little influx there. In what ways? A couple years ago we had apartment buildings added on, we’ve seen a few houses here and there. We now have the (Royal Ridge) apartment complex on the north side of town going up — the first piece of hopefully a four building process. And then,

we’ve been working with a young developer in the area trying to buy some land to start to develop some homes, so we’ve been meeting with him just trying to determine what we can do as a town to help out. The (Ferdinand) Economic Development Commission, Sicard those guys are working on some ideas that we could use to help developers come into town. The town may do some of the loaning of money within a reasonable amount, and help the developer come in and take some of the stress away from them. As land sells, we get our money back. So, we’re looking at some different ideas. That’s what we’re going to do to encourage growth of residential. To us, that’s the big challenge we’ve got. How much of a responsibility does the town have in helping get housing built? For us, housing is a big thing in trying to keep our businesses up and functioning. We’ve done a lot of stuff that other cities don’t do. We’ll supply the labor to put in a sanitary sewer system and the developer has to pay for the material. Same way with water. We’ve done it even with businesses trying to help them out just to get them into town. Housing aside, what positive strides are you seeing around town? I look around and I see what we’ve done

with the Community Crossings (grants). Updated a lot of streets and we’re putting sidewalks in. The sidewalks will link Fifth Street all the way to 18th Street parks. On the business side, we use our tax abatement process very business-like. Knu (Contract), the new addition to Best Home Furnishings, their building is going up, and that will bring us additional people in once it gets up and going. And we’re working with Mobil and helping them try to get their property sold. Working very hard with Dubois Strong in getting that land turned into a Indiana Site Certified (property). In other words, as I look at Ferdinand, we’re doing all the right stuff to continue to grow, but kind of grow at a small, slow pace to where we’re not blasting out all over the place and having trouble keeping up with everything.

there? I think so. We’ve got Best Home Furnishings (and) MasterBrand — two very big businesses. The school system is probably the next real big business pulling people. If those continue to grow and we get some more in there, people are going to want to live close to (them). They’re not going to want to drive an hour or two to get to and from work. They may do it in the beginning, but eventually they’re going to want to come to their home. I seriously think we can get there.

What is your vision for Ferdinand say, 10, 15 years from now? I’m hoping that we’re going to have housing out along that bypass. I’m hoping that there’s enough people that the high school no longer worries about stretching and laying off teachers. I’m not hoping for a Toyota to come in, but is there a nice size business that can come in and draw more people into town? Just to maybe bring in something other than woodworking. The town will have grown outward a little bit. And Ken Sicard is no longer on the Town Council. (Laughs) I’m sitting in my camper somewhere with my feet propped up just enjoying life.

I’ve been to other board meetings where I’m the only person from the public that attends, but that is never the case at the Ferdinand Town Council meetings. To you, is that a sign that you’re doing something right? I think that’s a positive sign. You see these people come in with these ideas — they go out, they do the work and they bring them to you. I like to smile and everybody thanks me for doing everything I do. I’m kind of like the director, and everybody else is out there doing the work. I think the Town of Ferdinand and the Ferdinand community have the right people doing things.

Do you think it’s likely the town can get

What will you miss the most when you step down? Probably being at the town council meetings and having everybody come. Sometimes they bring complaints, sometimes they bring other things.

These answers have been shortened for brevity and clarity.





League Stadium in Huntingburg is home of the Dubois County Bombers during the summer months and often draws fans from across the region. The Bombers lead the Ohio Valley League in attendance. HERALD FILE PHOTO

At more than $80M, tourism a growing cog By JASON RECKER In recent years, tourism dollars generated in Dubois County have lurched forward, indicating there’s something (a few things, many things) to do in southwest Indiana. The dollar figure zoomed from $65 million in 2013 to $72 million in 2014 to $82 million in 2015. Kevin Manley, the executive director of the county’s tourism commission, calls it steady growth. Probably an Manley understatement given that in an eight-county area that comprises economic development group Radius Indiana, Dubois County accounted for 30 percent of all tourism spending. If you live here, maybe you’re not buying it. Or at the least you wonder how it works, why people end up in Dubois County and what they’re here to see. Manley has been at the job since 2011 and this year serves as the president of the Indiana Tourism Association. He knows how it works. Where does that growth come from? Whitney (Hall) is in sales and marketing and we’ve been together for six years and we’ve executed our marketing plan consistently over that six years. The only thing we switched is we are more into digital and Facebook advertising and target marketing. The marketing dollars we spend, I think, hit more of the right people because of technology. In early years, we were in Midwest Living. Now it’s more Facebook ads and a blog and Twitter and Instagram. We went to behavior target marketing. That’s key words when you’re advertising so if somebody is searching for a term, then our message goes to that person. You link key words to your message and you get your message in front of people who have like interests. Do you pick those key words? We do. There’s basic words like museums or sports parks or sports tourism or baseball and softball. You mention sports. Sports tourism is huge in our county. We have that 11-field complex and we bring in tournaments any weekend we can. It’s a pretty significant impact when a tournament of 50, 60 teams gets out there. Half or more come and stay here. We got involved because we had open weekends and pursued partners to bring in tournaments. We have a few groups that bring in tourna-

ments. They pay us for the fields. We’ve had teams here from Wisconsin and Chicago. If you look in the summer, too, we have hotel rooms to support guests. But we’re short on hotel rooms. Every team averages about 12 rooms. We are a gold mine for French Lick because if a team can’t stay together in one hotel here — say they want 12 rooms and there’s only six left — they go up to French Lick. We’re still growing and when we get that Fairfield on the riverfront area and the new Comfort Suites, that will help us immensely. Another thing we do is partner with the motorcoach industry. We have as many as 31 motorcoaches come over the course of a year. We’re partnering with French Lick. There’s not enough in French Lick to stay there a week or even three or four days. So we partnered with the resort. They market us, we market them. The other piece of data that I think is outstanding is that we have so much to offer but we have a limited budget to market with. When I look at how many people — if we get a unique visitor to come the first time, they come four times over the next two years. Once we get them, it’s like a big discovery for them that there are things to do. What do people come here to do? We go to the museum. We go to Dr. Ted’s Musical Marvels. We go to the monastery (Monastery Immaculate Conception). St. Joseph Church is on a lot of itineraries. The train depot in Jasper. There’s Christkindlmarkt and we’ve had 11 motorcoaches come to that. A lot of them come every year because they have a great experience and it’s something unique. You have to be unique. Otherwise, we’re a small, rural market. Our largest market here, even for Holiday World, is Indianapolis. It’s the No. 1 area that comes this direction. What about us is unique? Where we’re located. What we have to offer. We’re centrally located between casinos, caves, Patoka Lake, Holiday World. Those are all major attractions. We say 30 minutes to all of those so people know it’s close, they can stay here, take in two or three of those places. It’s a good central point. Then it’s the overall appearance of the county. There’s so much pride. We’re so fortunate to have Kimball, MasterBrand, Jasper Engines, Meyer Distributing, all the major corporations that enable us to have the amenities. Those major corporations and Memorial Hospital draw in all these professions so we’re a rural county but we have a high percentage of professionals who want a high quality of life and are willing to put their money behind it. We think the Parklands, we’ll market that to the motorcoach industry. We don’t have a lot of restaurants where you can seat 50 people at once and

eat dinner. The Parklands, we can have this beautiful, serene environment. There’s a lot of things that are growing. But I think the main thing is we’re marketing appropriately, getting the right message in the right channels. Are a lot of these destinations things we take for granted? Take the sports complex in Jasper, I don’t know of any communities that are our size and have 11 fields. I talk to people in the Indiana Tourism Association and they got excited they had four fields. Also, we’re economical — fair rental rates on the fields, very fair hotel rates. Like Grand Park in Westfield is wonderful, but you better have some money to play there. It’s very expensive and hotels really jack up prices. The demand is there, I understand. But if we had more weekends available, we’d sell more tournaments. Yeah, things get overlooked by some of our residents. We sent a brochure to about 18,000 homes in the county. This year we did the guide to show people what we’re about. They’re taken to the Illinois border, to Indianapolis, to Ashley, Kentucky. We get outside our area to get our message out. What we’ve tried to do is, say for Garden Gate. It takes a few years to build it up and we had about 3,000 people there in 2015. Last year, we had people from Fort Wayne, Anderson, Indianapolis. If I see people, I ask them how they heard about us. They saw it on Visit and they made it a weekend by coming down to take in the event. A lot of places are trying to do what we’re doing, but they don’t have the time or resources or the experience. It came back in a survey that 37 percent of people surveyed were told about an event here by family or a friend from Dubois County. So I said we needed to do advocacy in the county, sell our story to (residents). Invite people to come. Be an advocate for the county. You talk about quality of place and there’s a benefit for people who live here. How does it affect tourism? We market that. We’re co-marketing in Travel Indiana. We have a full-page ad with a narrative about Dubois County and then on the opposite page we partner with six companies or businesses for an ad. We try to co-market within people’s interest. We have a lot of people who come to our downtown areas to shop and those businesses have said they see a lot of tourists. What counts as tourism? Who are the tourists? They have to travel 50 miles for it to count. It’s the sixth-largest industry in the state. It’s money that is driving our economy from outside our area. There are places — the Schnitzelbank, for instance — ­ that

will tell you point-blank that they wouldn’t have the business they have without tourism. A motorcoach may be on its way to Branson, Missouri, but we’ll bring them off I-64 so they can stop to eat here. We see them at the motorcoach show, tell them they can tie it into their experience. It’s 77 percent of our tourists are from within a three-hour radius. You have to make connections. It’s a business. You are going to be successful if you build relationships. If you want the motorcoach industry, you have to go to the shows, talk to people, get to know them. They don’t just come and say we’re here. Invite them in. Show them around. When I first came on, I went to St. Louis and Indianapolis and Cincinnati and made calls on motorcoach companies. That was the best thing because I spent an hour with these people, showed them slide presentations, invited them. Several of them sell itineraries with things from Dubois County on them. We have a group from Wisconsin that comes to Christkindlmarkt every year. There are ones in Missouri, too. When you give your pitch, what do you say? Why tourism in Dubois County? We always have a presentation. Some of them allow us to leave them an itinerary. We put all our assets on there. We’ll talk about the monastery, for instance, how it was redone in 2007, gold leaf in the ceilings, absolutely if you have any beliefs in religion you’ll walk out a different person. Take Dr. Ted’s, talk about how it’s so unique. Schnitzelbank food. Dubois County Museum, largest county museum in the state. You’re selling pieces of a market. How do you improve? There’s several things that are going to take us up several notches. As we get the River Centre and Cultural Center done, the resort in French Lick has major motorcoach conferences the next few years — so we’re going to switch a lot of our budget to getting a bigger role in that. ... We need the economy. But you know when the economy went south however many years ago, the only thing that held up was sports tourism. I keep thinking people didn’t go to Disney or the beach, but Johnny or Sarah was playing ball and that’s our weekend trip. Leisure travel pulls in, people don’t want to drive as far, stay closer to home, take day trips. ... If it comes to fruition, the Rosenvolk would be huge. That’s a market where people will travel from Texas and Florida and everywhere to go do these things. It’s unbelievable. DC Multisport has helped us with the Heartland Half Marathon. We’ve had runners from Texas and Canada, a lot from Indy, more than 700 runners total.




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Foundation: Way we tell our story is important By CANDY NEAL As the communities prepare for their future, the Dubois County Community Foundation is working alongside them. The foundation not only helps with funding projects, it also focuses on how those new features will be maintained for generations to come. Clayton Boyles, foundation president, and Nicole Kreilein, head of communications and engagement, talked about the foundation’s role in the community. Overall, what is the foundation’s vision for Dubois County? Boyles: We’re an engaged, vibrant community where everyone finds a way to give back. We want to make it a little better place to live and work. I know our forefathers have forged the way to make this a really wonderful community. We’re a countywide organization. So we try to hit all pockets of the county, small and large. We want communities to work together and be cohesive — whether that be Huntingburg and Ferdinand, Huntingburg and Jasper, or Birdseye and Ferdinand, whatever that might be — working together to create programs, facilities, offerings for the county. Our foundation’s vision is really set on what our donors wishes are. We are a facilitator of philanthropy. The largest part of what we do is following our donors’ wishes. Sometimes it’s led by us. But the majority of the time, the vision for Dubois County is led by our citizens and our donors. Kreilein: We want to be the center of philanthropy in the community. And we believe that everyone in the community can find a way to give back, through time, talent or treasure. So anything that we can do to facilitate that and keep our community engaged is going to make the community stronger and better. What role does the foundation play in the development of Dubois County? Boyles: There are 93 foundations in the state, so there is a foundation in every county; one county has two. We’re all very simi-

lar, but also extremely different. We all play off the three-legged stool model: If a stool has three legs and you take one leg away, it’s going to fall down. So we have to make sure we’re firing all cylinders on all three of those legs. The first leg is pre- Boyles serving assets through endowment building. So our main driver is investing assets that are protected forever and through those endowments, we can make impactful grants, which is our second leg. There’s a broad spectrum, from unrestricted giving, where donors rely on our grants committee to decide what’s best, all the way to designating a specific cause that they care about most, and a lot of in-between. The third thing we do is provide leadership on important community initiatives — always bringing up the idea of philanthropy, always bringing up the idea of sustainability, making sure that our projects are well taken care of, not only now but in the future. How is the foundation directly involved in local communities, and is the involvement just financial? Kreilein: We don’t feel that our support is just financial, even though our grantmaking is a big part of what we do in the community. Back to those three roles that we play, our leadership in the community is very important when we are talking about working with our nonprofits and individuals who have a passion. Oftentimes it’s more about providing guidance to our philanthropists in the community. And when there are community initiatives going on, we definitely want to be involved. With Stellar, we’ve worked with them on some of their fundraising efforts to establish an endowment and made some grants to different projects. With the Parklands, we’ve been heavily involved in the some of the fundraising and endowment building,

and providing some of our grants. With the Astra and Next Act, we’ve been with them pretty much since day one, partnering with that group in their vision to restore the Astra Theatre. We also have worked with many of our smaller cities and Kreilein towns to create community endowments. Boyles: We wanted to ensure each of our local smaller communities had a voice in the county to be able to allocate dollars to what is most important to their communities. These endowments are unrestricted endowment specific for that community. And we’ve asked leaders within that community to be advisers of these endowments. Is the foundation doing anything to encourage and help with the development of facilities and programs, especially in areas outside of the main cities and towns? Kreilein: One project we are proud to be a part of is building playgrounds in unincorporated communities, including Dubois, Ireland, Haysville, St. Anthony and Schnellville through the C.J. Gehlhausen Endowment. This was all made possible through an estate gift left by a local man who had a dream that all children would have a place to play. Boyles: We helped in the Holland community with the Holland Commons project. We have been in Celestine working on walking trails. In Schnellville, we made a grant to make improvements to their community center. In a lot of our smaller communities, their volunteer fire departments have been an important asset to their communities. We have partnered with them to make equipment upgrades for their fire stations. There has been a lot of discussion in recent years about making communities more enticing so that more people will move here. Do you think all the projects going on in the county will help that future progression?

Boyles: One of the biggest things we are needing the most in this community now is a strong labor force and more population growth. Bringing in and attracting new people, it takes things they are attracted to. And I think these projects are helping with that, absolutely. Is it completely the answer? I don’t know. We’ll see one day. But I think we’re moving in the right direction. Kreilein: All the momentum in our community right now is really exciting. I don’t think we’ve seen this many projects and this much new development in the county for a really long time. I think our donors believe that this is making the county stronger. We’ve seen that by their support of a lot of these projects. This is making the county stronger in working toward that goal of growing our population so we can meet our workforce demands Boyles: We’re a fan of what’s going on now. We’re a bigger fan of making sure it’s protected 25, 50 years from now. Where can we as a county make improvements in making our county more enticing, and are there areas of the county that could warrant more development, as far as facilities or programs? Kreilein: One thing that I think we can do a little better as a community is leveraging what we have instead of focusing on what we don’t have. We may not have all the amenities that big cities have, but we sure have plenty of cool things here that we should be proud of including our strong local business community. Unique coffee shops, retail, whatever they are about, these are businesses that care about the community and give back. Our parks system is amazing and we also have four strong school districts. There’s a lot here that we take for granted. Let’s continue to promote and leverage our assets. Boyles: It’s about the people. We’re very much a Hoosier state and Hoosier county. We are hospitable. We’re unique in that way. ... That’s what we have to leverage is that small town pride. The way we tell our story is very important.

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In 1986, this young man graduated from dental school and began his journey supplying quality dental treatment to Dubois County and the surrounding areas. Dr. Friz started his practice in the basement of the Schmutzler building at 1111 North Main Street, Huntingburg. Sharing the small space with Dr. Gary Haller, Friz “hung out his shingle” and waited for the phone to ring and new patients to come. Disaster came, at least Dr. Friz thought, when the phone book company put the wrong phone number in the yellow pages that year. For an entire year, Friz had to advertise regularly in the Herald so that prospective patients would be able to call him. In 1987, Dr. Friz moved into the dental building at 202 East 17th Street and practiced there for 20 years. A maverick for his day, Dr. Friz was the first dental professional in Dubois County to surgically place dental implants. There were many that tried to discourage him, but Dr. Friz believed that dental implants were the future for replacing missing teeth. In 2007, Dr. Friz bought the office building of Dr. John Mattingly on 1411 North Chestnut Street. The building was remodeled with windows, brick siding, an addition, and a new interior.

As a rural dental provider, Dr. Friz performs a wide range of dental procedures including root canal therapy, fillings, crowns, bridges, dentures and partial dentures, and dental surgeries such as implants, wisdom teeth, difficult extractions, and bone grafting. He has made house calls and also routinely comes in after hours to treat emergency patients.

Dr. Friz made all of the interior woodwork from lumber he harvested from his farm that has been in his family since the early 1800’s. This office is now a very beautiful and comfortable place to visit for dental treatment.

F A M IL Y A N D IM P L A N T D E N T IS T R Y Huntingburg: 812-683-5810

Dale: 812-937-4818 This year has been an exciting time for the Friz Family and Implant Dentistry. Dr. Nicholas Olinger, a hometown boy from Huntingburg has joined Dr. Friz as the practice continues to grow. Also, a long time friend and colleague, Dr. David R. Fisher of Dale, approached Friz and asked if Friz would take over the Dale practice when Fisher retires in August this year.

Dr. Friz and Dr. Olinger are always happy to help people and like to see new patients. You will find them helpful and proficient, the staff kind and friendly, and the office relaxing and comfortable.



Businesses should ‘look outside the box’ By LEANN BURKE

JASPER — As executive director of the Jasper Chamber of Commerce, Nancy Eckerle knows what’s going on in Jasper’s business community and is always looking for ways to help Jasper’s roughly 1,000 businesses, most of which Eckerle classifies as small businesses, thrive. The Herald spoke with Eckerle about the business community in Jasper, what our businesses need and what the Chamber has to offer. What do you guys focus on most at the Chamber? The majority of our Chamber members would be considered small businesses, just because the majority of businesses in Jasper are small businesses. We definitely have the bigger businesses as members of the chamber, also. They tend to be a bit more self-sufficient. They do their own training. So you guys work mostly with the small businesses and helping them develop? We do, yes. We also have a very close connection with the Indiana Small Business Development Center, and that organization is able to assist someone if they’re wanting to start a business. They’re also able to assist someone if they’re wanting to do something a little bit different with their business. Maybe they’ve been in business for a long time, and they realize now they may need to not do things the way they’ve always done, so (the Indiana Small Busi-

ness Connection Center) is able to help them explore other options. And those services are free. We love to connect people with the Small Business Development Center. We offer them opportunities to connect with one another. We host a “Timeout From Eckerle Business,” and that’s a networking opportunity for business people to meet other business people. Believe it or not, even in a town like Jasper, there are people who don’t know each other. ... We’ll do workshops and seminars. We try to pick things that are hot topics. Last year there was a new law going to be coming into effect on overtime. We did, I think, three seminars. How many members do you guys have? We have close to 400 members. Every year a couple businesses might close their doors, and that takes away from our numbers, but close to 400, which is very good for a community our size. There are probably 1,000 businesses in Jasper if you take in in-home beauty shops and things like that. There’s a whole lot of businesses that exist in Jasper. And of course, there’s room for growth. There’s always room for growth. That’s where we work with the small business

development center also to help determine what are some areas we still need in Jasper, for example in the retail area. And then how do we go about recruiting? We also use Dubois Strong and some of their recruitment methods. On the other hand, when a local person wants to start a business, (we think about) how we can lead them to start a business that’s something we need here and that will be supported by the people. What are some of those things we need? People are always saying different things they want, but probably more variety of restaurants, a little more specific in the retail business — not to name anything specifically — and we can always use more manufacturing type of jobs. But right now the unemployment (rate) kind of throws a wrench into that because the companies we have now are having a hard time filling spots. Other than more people, what do our businesses need? The big need I see right now is succession planning. Many of the companies we have here are owned or run by people who want to move into retirement in the next five to 10 years. When businesses decide to close, what are some of the reasons they give? In some cases it’s just the owners don’t want to do it anymore. They’ve run their business and are ready to retire. Sometimes with a newer business, maybe they didn’t do enough preplanning. Maybe they didn’t plan for five or 10 years in the future. I think

the planning process for opening and moving forward is so important. Do you help with that? We do, or we move them to the Small Business Development Center. We may also try to connect them to a local person who’s been in business to be a mentor. What can we do as a community to help our businesses keep going? We definitely promote the Shop Local program. I think that’s very important. People are sometimes eager to go out of the area to shop. I know that’s entertainment, but when you’re looking for your daily needs or gifts, I think it’s important to shop local. If you don’t supporOt your local businesses, they won’t stay. It’s just one of the most important things we can do, shopping local and supporting our local businesses. What’s the future for our businesses, do you think? I think they have to be progressive. They have to alert and cOhange in what they do. Through the Chamber, we can provide workshops and seminars about changes happening in the business sector, but they have to take that in themselves. They have to look at their business, and they have to maybe start looking outside the box a little bit. Look different, be different, think different. Just project a different image because it’s a different generation that’s coming on. And I think they do that.

Editor’s note: These answers have been shortened for brevity and clarity.

Chamber seeks to ‘create a better community’ By CANDY NEAL HUNTINGBURG — Huntingburg Chamber of Commerce is busy with plans to bring entrepreneurs and business people together to socialize, network and encourage business endeavors. Chamber Executive Director Sara Schroeder works with the city is always looking for new ideas and new opportunities to work with others to improve the city’s business climate and community. What role does the chamber play or hope to play in the development of the city, and even Dubois County? We’re not like a typical chamber. Dubois County has such low unemployment. A lot of times chambers will try to help recruit businesses. But that doesn’t seem to be where our need is. Our need is creating a better community, creating that quality of life so that we can attract people to the area. The jobs are here. We want people to come in and see that the community is here as well. Another role we have is with the small business, especially in our downtown. Our small businesses are so important to Hunt-

ingburg, to our community. I’m a firm believer that the stronger your downtown is, the stronger your community is. So especially with the changes that are about to happen with the Stellar projects, it’s really important to keep our downtown Schroeder strong. We’ve had so many new businesses open in the last couple of months. I think other people are seeing that now is the time to get in, because things are going to be so great after the Stellar projects are done. What is the Huntingburg Chamber of Commerce’s vision for the city? Does that vision extend beyond the city limits? The vision for the city is trying to improve our quality of place and improve our community. One of the ways we see doing that is working on our downtown, which is the heart of our city. We’ve been known

for antiques for so many years; but that’s not really our future. We’re looking at the Stellar projects and how we can change with that. And the theme we keep running across is really trying to find more art and culture and eclectic, and try to create more of a community around those themes. As far as going outside the community, we have started partnering with Ferdinand Chamber especially. We both feel that our roles as chambers in the county is more of improvement of quality of place, improvement of community. We both feel like we’re the southern gateway to the county. So we’re starting a partnership. What kinds of programs and activities does the chamber conduct to help with the city’s progression? We’re going to be doing the networking group that we started in Huntingburg; we’re going to alternate that between Huntingburg and Ferdinand. Once a quarter, we are going to have a network socializing event for chamber members, and we will rotate communities. We’re also looking at business education and small business development. We’re go-

ing to look at having six mini sessions and cohost those starting in the fall. We want to reach those people who have a great idea but are nervous about moving on it. And we want to reach those who have a home business, to encourage them to get into a brickand-mortar building. We will be focusing on them, giving them support letting them know about the opportunities that are in our downtown. We want to help them move on their ideas, or move their business from a home business to a retail brick-and-mortar business, and show them what that can do for them and how they can grow. Is the Chamber active in the various projects happening in Huntingburg? I sit on the Stellar Committee, the economic development committee. I have a good relationship with Mayor Spinner, Rachel (Steckler) and the city, so there is a lot of great conversations going on back and forth. We, as the chamber, have a vested interest in what happens, not only economics and infrastructure. Market Street Park is home to the Chamber’s biggest event, which is the Garden Gate Festival. We are excited about the plans for the development of the park.

Here’s how an early entrepreneur succeeded By FLORA STENFTENAGEL Special to The Herald James “Jim” J. Stenftenagel of Jasper has had a large part in the growth of several businesses in the city. Jim was involved in the construction of nine buildings, the majority located in the Holy Family area. Jim graduated from Jasper High School in 1945, and six days later, he and 11 classmates left for service in World War II. He returned from service in Iceland in 1947, and he and his mentor, Sylvester Vogler, who was in the auto repair business, formed a partnership known as the V and S Garage. The new yellow-brick service station was built on Highway 162 in Jasper. The building still stands and is occupied by Denny’s Auto Parts. Nine years after beginning work with Vogler, Jim terminated the partnership and ventured into a new business. The rotary power mower came on the market, and Jim visualized it as having a dynamic future with a potential for repairing small engines and selling parts. In the summer of 1957, Jim sold new power mowers from his father Florian’s humble smoke house, which was moved

from Florian’s property to Jim’s property, located next door. Selling and repairing mowers that summer proved profitable. That fall, Jim moved into his new building called “Stens Sales and Service.” Later he added other small-engine products: chainsaws, garden tillers, snow blowers, and riding mowers. Three years later, he also began selling and repairing Mercury motors and boats. This building was expanded twice. Jim also became a partner with son, Charles, Bob Gramelspacher and Vic Eckert, in Wooden Keg Liquors, a new business located next to the large white-frame house he grew up in which stands to this day. On the left side of the big white house, currently occupied by Jackie’s Travel Agency, is the red-brick Cape Cod home that he and his wife, the former Flora Eversman of Jasper, built. They moved into the new home fourteen months after they were married in 1949. They are the parents of four children, Mark, Charles, Sara, and Mary Ellen. Charles later became a partner in Stens. Farther on down Highway 231, we find Holy Family Catholic Church, built in 1979. Jim was building chairman of the church. He credits Father Donald Ackerman, Father Ralph Schipp, his vice-chairman Alvin Ruxer, and his committee. Jim’s only sur-

viving member is Elfrieda Fleck. The standout elements of the church are the “fabulous stained glass windows.” These windows are said to be the second largest in the country. As we proceed down Highway 231 we come to three St. Vincent DePaul buildings. The first building located on Meridian Road was standing when Jim was appointed president of the store. After a couple of years, it was evident that the original building was inadequate. The store needed more room for the food pantry. Jim was overseer in the construction of a second building, which allowed room for drop-offs of clothing and furniture, plus space for sorting the items. Also, a larger food pantry was installed and stocked in the second building. After a couple of years, it was evident that the two buildings were inadequate. Jim, along with manager Larry Bartley, had the vision to purchase the old Central Tractor building at a crossroad junction off of Meridian Road and Highway 231, and paint and remodel it to convert it into a successful clothing and household goods outlet. Meanwhile, Stens Sales and Services outgrew their warehouse, which was full of boats, on Third Avenue and decided they needed to locate closer to Patoka Lake. Jim

and Charles Stenftenagel formed a partnership with Mark Jahn and John Gunselman and Sten’s Marine was opened at the crossroads of Highway 164. Mark Jahn later bought out his partners and presently owns Port of Jasper. Jim, and Charles, and several partners, Ken Beck, Larry Loechte, Bob Gramelspacher, Ken Seng, Al Seng and Jack Morton, soon formed another business. They decided Jasper needed a new bowling alley. Eastown Bowling Lanes is still in business next to Port of Jasper. Meanwhile, Jim and Charles were outgrowing their small-engine parts business at Stens, and they needed a larger building for shipping parts (they had 11,000 dealers they shipped to from their catalog throughout the country). The duo purchased the old Novelty Furniture Factory, painted it and remodeled it. The big STENS CORP logo on Clay Street signified the building, and they were in business, again shipping small-engine parts nationally and internationally. Jim and Charles credit much of the business’ success to their loyal employees, which numbered 150 at Jim’s retirement in 1981. Thus Jim Stenftenagel’s “vision of the power mower business” was fulfilled.



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Airport a partner, asset in regional development By CANDY NEAL HUNTINGBURG — Travis McQueen, manager of the Huntingburg Airport, works with the staff and the Dubois County Airport Authority to bring more customers to the airport. But it goes beyond businesses. The airport also strives to get more individuals involved in aviation. Each month, the airport leads tours and for grade school students, provide internships for interested high school students and provides opportunities for people to work toward getting their aviation license. McQueen is in the middle of the action. People don’t necessarily understand the airport’s significance to this area. In your own words, why is the airport an important component to the development of Dubois County? The airport equates to jobs. Do you have a job in Dubois County or the region? Now, do you think that company would be here, in the middle of the state and no good highways, without that company’s use of the airport, as a tool for transportation? I don’t think so. I would suggest that without the airport, the county and the companies in the region would not yield the historic economic success they have seen. Most everyone in the region knows someone whom works for the Big 5 (Best Chairs, Kimball, OFS, Jasper Engines and MasterBrand). The Big 5 use the airport to fly in customers and potential customers into the region for tours of manufacturing facilities. Years ago, I heard a tidbit from one of the Big 5, that suggested if they could get the customers through their factory tours, via flying them through the Huntingburg Airport, then there was a 98 percent probability of that customer making a purchase from a local company for a large order. Also, we hope to have an impact on the future of our students. This last semester we had three Dubois County students par-

Travis McQueen, airport manager, and Jim Hunsicker, DC Airport Authority president. ticipate in an internship program. They had the opportunity to refuel aircraft, tow aircraft, fly in aircraft, meet pilots, meet mechanics, meet aircraft owners, meet corporate pilots, operate machines they have only seen, like backhoes, articulating tractors, snow plows, snow brooms, hydro-seeders, and shadow employees on a daily basis. With more than 250 students — mostly preschool and kindergartners — visiting the airport and having their hands on the yoke of an aircraft, we hope that this will have a long-term impact on their lives and that they consider aviation as a positive career choice. We attempt to link the students whom have come to the airport in years past, to the students coming through now, so they have another resource, another contact to make entry in aviation as a career path. I remember Josh Gordon, now an F-18 pilot for the U.S. Navy, completing an internship at the airport years ago, then his brother Jarah, now studying for his A&P (airframe and power plant) license, coming through a few years ago and linking both Gordons to students starting out today, is invaluable. What is your long-term vision for the airport beyond the extended runway? What would you hope the airport would look like (physically and services-wise)

in the next 10, 20, 30 years? Long term, I would like to see the students participating in our internship program, our Pathways to Flight program, go out to become successful entrepreneurs in aerospace/aviation and bring their business back to the Huntingburg Airport Technology Park (region) and create value with great living wage jobs. Some of these students will become pilots, but many pilots often are entrepreneurs and start up other aviation businesses. I would like to see an explosion of aerospace/aviation jobs come to our Tech Park. I would like to see additional businesses and services come to the airport, such as: ■■ A&P/IA (airframe and power plant mechanic with an annual inspection authorization from the FAA) ■■ aircraft paint shop ■■ aircraft upholstery shop ■■ aircraft MRO (maintenance repair and overall) ■■ FAA certified testing facility for written tests ■■  DPE (designated pilot examiner) be established ■■  FAA AME (airman medical examiner) be established ■■  Partnership with higher education (maybe Ivy Tech or Purdue) ■■  Class offerings related to aviation/

aerospace We have been entrepreneurs and making things in Dubois County for years, should we not consider diversifying our economy with existing talent in manufacturing, which could be reskilled/honed/shaped into making things or providing services in aerospace/aviation, as a priority? I would like to see partnerships with Ivy Tech, maybe Purdue, or other higher education institutions, so students could get their education online and flight training here, without leaving the region. That would save costs. I would like to see a 6,000-plus-foot-long runway at Huntingburg Airport. I would like to see a UAV(unmanned aerial vehicle or drone) training partnership established. It’s a large part of our (aviation) future. Maybe services coupled for the UAV market may include (design, build, test and repair). I would like to see additional T-hangar and corporate box hangar spaces added. Locally, communities are working on projects and ideas that they hope will attract new residents to the area. What role can the airport play in attracting people to the area to stay and live? The airport can help attract talented people to the region. I can think back within the past five years of three different individuals whom contacted me in reference to their moving to the region. Each of these individuals use aviation for business and pleasure. They all collectively advised that this was one of their first phone calls to the region, before making the decision to relocate. They wanted to know what hangar facilities were available for their aircraft, what services were available at the airport, prior to a final decision. Each of them relocated their aircraft to our airport. Two specifically requested a slot in our new T-hangar. Having those services and facilities helped in attracting talent to the region. We are a partner in talent attraction and business ownership.

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Small businesses must evolve to stay afloat By OLIVIA INGLE Location. It was Lisa Lamont and Kenny Hurst’s first challenge after deciding to open Made With Grace, a small business that specializes in fruit bouquets and customized items. “The challenge was finding a good location, an affordable one,” Hurst said. The father-daughter duo, both first-time business owners, had their sights set on Jasper’s downtown Square, but there were no vacancies. They settled on a Clay Street location, knowing that it wasn’t a prime spot for their business. Made With Grace opened in November 2014. “We started in a location not easily accessible for foot traffic and we knew that was an issue when we started,” Hurst said. And they were right. Some potential customers just didn’t find them. Lamont and Hurst finally secured a location on the Square nearly a year and a half later after hearing about an upcoming vacancy from an advertising contact. The business relocated to the former Bridal Boutique building in April 2016, a location that Hurst says “has made a huge difference.” The move was a way for Hurst and Lamont to evolve and grow their business, which Hurst says every small business owner needs to continue to do. Since opening Made With Grace, they’ve also learned that what works for one small business owner may not work for another. Hurst says this is a big mistake he sees many owners make. “Every business is catered differently,” Lamont added, also saying listening to what customers want is another important piece of owning a small business. “Enough requests tell us there’s something out there,” she said. “We also watch the internet and research current trends.” Jasper Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Nancy Eckerle works with small businesses every day and agrees that owners must keep up with trends.

Made with Grace co-owner Lisa Lamont of Jasper pushed grapes onto a skewer while preparing a small fruit bouquet at Made with Grace in Jasper. A small fruit bouquet includes just under 50 pieces of fruit. On an average day, Lamont will make one to three bouquets, but around holidays, business picks up and she receives dozens of orders. TEGAN JOHNSTON THE HERALD

“They go to market twice a year and know what people want to buy,” she said. “They read a lot of trade journals and keep up on things. They know what their competitors are doing. They travel to other areas to see what other businesses are doing.” She noted several local businesses that she believes do a great job at achieving these things: Finishing Touches, Just Whimsy and Chocolate Bliss and Kitchen Essentials. Maureen Braun, who has owned Finishing Touches in downtown Jasper for 39 years, encourages small business owners to find the business they’re passionate about. “Many people don’t find enough a match of business for themselves,” she said. “I’m so fortunate to have the right match for me.

That’s probably the biggest mistake.” She also advises that owners don’t underestimate the work. “It’s a lifetime challenge,” Braun said. “A lot of hours and uncertainty.” Eckerle cited several risks associated with starting a small business — financial risk, not having insurance, the risk of failure. “Although a lot of them (small business owners) will tell you their failure led to success,” she said. “It was a learning process for them.” Because of the risks, Eckerle said the Chamber suggests that people contact the Indiana Small Business Development Center before starting any business so that they can receive help in making a business plan.

“It forces you to plan,” Eckerle said. “It’s what financial institutions like you to do, too. That connection with the Small Business Development Center is key. They do seminars here as well, like what it’s like to start your own business.” She said the rewards with owning a small business are numerous. “Your dream has come true and you’re doing something you’re passionate about,” Eckerle said. “Then there’s the whole customer service aspect of knowing your customers by name and knowing what they want.” For more information or to get in touch with the Indiana Small Business Development Center, contact the Jasper Chamber of Commerce at 812-482-6866.



Indiana 15 helps spur progress, growth By OLIVIA INGLE FERDINAND — At any given time, the Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission is involved in a number of projects across the region. Established in 1973, the commission is quasi-governmental, meaning it’s supported by the government but managed privately. It’s funded through annual county per-capita fees; a federal planning grant; and professional, fee-for-service contracts with participating local governments and nonprofits for administrative, planning and technical services. It serves six cities and 21 towns within Crawford, Dubois, Orange, Perry, Pike and Spencer counties. “Throughout its 43 years of service, Indiana 15 has been involved with a multitude of community and economic development projects bringing in millions of dollars, progress and growth into the regional economy,” said Lisa Gehlhausen, the commission’s executive director. The commission has five full-time staff members as well as a 43-member board of directors. Communities identify their needs, Gehlhausen said, and the commission takes a team approach on the projects with the units of government, architectural and engineering firms, and funding agencies. Indiana 15 helps entities secure funding from agencies such as the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. The following are some of the commission’s recent or ongoing local/regional projects: Planning ■■ Over a period of several months, Indiana 15 completed a 2017-21 Stronger Economies Together and Comprehensive Economic

Development Strategy to build collaboration and strengthen the economies of the region. ■■ The commission helps communities prepare income surveys, which are used to determine eligibility for the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs Community Development Block Grant Fund from Housing and Urban Development. ■■ The Town of Dale is preparing to submit a planning grant to study its wastewater system and update its comprehensive plan. ■■ The Town of Holland received $30,000 in 2016 to prepare a study of the town’s water utility system. The study researched current system operations and improvement alternatives and the town is currently reviewing the recommendations. Economic Development ■■ The commission has partnered with the Patoka Lake Regional Water and Sewer District to bring clean, potable water to communities and rural areas, which has allowed the area to grow. ■■ The commission is assisting the Town of French Lick with updating its Revolving Loan Fund Plan, which is available lending for business growth in the town. ■■ Indiana 15 is part of the Tell City Workforce Development Project’s Southwest Indiana Manufacturing Project, which covers Perry, Spencer, Dubois, and Crawford counties. ■■ The City of Jasper was awarded $1,380,000 from the Economic Development Administration to upgrade water lines along U.S. 231. The city will provide local matching funds. The engineering contract is under review. The Indiana Department of Transportation has a U.S. 231 resurfacing project planned after the water line upgrade. Community Development ■■ The commission assists communities with their drinking water, wastewater, stormwater, blight clearance, downtown and historic preservation, libraries, senior centers, public facilities, main streets and accessibility projects.

■■ The Town of Birdseye was recently awarded $450,000 for water improvements. The project is seeking bids. ■■ The City of Jasper was awarded a historic preservation grant of $400,000 through the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs for the renovation and preservation of the Astra Theatre. The theater was constructed in 1935. Nonprofit Next Act, Inc. purchased the building in 2015 to save, revive and revitalize the historic structure on Jasper’s downtown Square. ■■ The Town of English received a $529,000 grant through the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs to replace two water towers. ■■ Ferdinand’s Wollenmann House received historic preservation funding through the Community Development Block Grant program. The Town of Ferdinand and Ferdinand Historical Society received the $400,000 grant to restore the exterior, replace electrical wiring and stabilize a basement wall. ■■ Dubois Branch Library received funding through the Community Development Block Grant program. Dubois County and the Dubois County Contractual Public Library received the $500,000 to construct a new branch in the town of Dubois. Residents pulled together to raise funds and write letters of support. The library is now a centerpiece of the community. Transportation ■■ Indiana 15 is currently conducting traffic counts on non-state owned roadways. The counts are uploaded to INDOT and the data is used for state planning and other activities. ■■ The Commission hosted presentations and training on how to prepare a Road Asset Management Plan and has assisted communities with completing the new INDOT Community Crossings Program grant applications to improve local roads. Community Crossings Awards were announced in August 2016 with over $7.2 million distributed to cities, towns, and counties in the Indiana 15 region. Every county

in the region was awarded funding through the efforts. The 2016 total funds received by county for use on roads and bridges were: Crawford, $900,000.00; Dubois, $2,838,525.47; Orange, $1 million; Perry, $685,765.86; Pike, $507,225.75; and Spencer, $1,279,148. Applications for 2017 grants were due last month. Recreation ■■ The commission has helped park and recreation departments develop master plans to prioritize local recreation projects. ■■ Indiana 15 is assisting the City of Jasper with a grant award of $200,000 for trail development at the Parklands. ■■ The commission helped with the Huntingburg Market Street Park project, which is now reviewing bids. Construction is expected to start this year. Indiana 15 also helped the city with a grant request of $200,000 for the development of Northside Park, which will include a playground and a trail. ■■ Indiana 15 helped with a grant request of $200,000 for the Town of Ferdinand for trail development around the Old Town Lake. Public Safety ■■ The commission is assisting Dubois County in updating its Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan, which is used to reduce loss of life and property during disasters. ■■ Indiana 15 helped Chrisney, Dale and Jasper secure more than $5.7 million total for the reconstruction of the lake dams controlled by the communities’ governments. ■■ The Holland Volunteer Fire Department received $11,770 in funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for personal protective equipment and new attack hose. ■■ The Jasper Flood Mitigation project funded by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority was completed in 2016. The structures in the project area were in the flood plain near the Patoka River.

This is not the full list of Indiana 15 Regional Planning Commission projects. Additional projects are under development and many past projects are not mentioned.

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Hospital evolves as surroundings, technology change By JASON RECKER With more than 1,000 employees, its campus in the middle of Jasper, satellite locations at various points in multiple towns and counties and the breadth to serve patients in nine counties, Memorial Hospital has long been one of the county’s flagship entities. As medical technology advances and needs evolve, in what direction does the hospital move? A group of Memorial’s leaders answered that question by talking about the overall mission as well as three ongoing projects — the development of a family medicine residency center at the corner of 13th and Bartley streets, the fairly recent designation as a Level III trauma center and the procurement of a robot that enables the use of telemedicine. KYLE BENNETT, president and CEO Big picture, where is the hospital? We are certainly very much a regional health care provider. We’ve worked on that premise for a long time — Dale was our very first location and Dr. Tretter was there in 2001 and we had a physician there before him. We went from there to Ferdinand. We provide health care in 33 environments or locations. As far north and west as Washington. Petersburg. Shoals. Leavenworth. Santa Claus. That kind of makes the Bennett perimeter, maybe a 70or 80-mile width and 50- to 60-mile length. As we look at where we are, to have the facilities and offer the specialties we offer, it takes a broader footprint. Certainly we want to — I don’t know that the footprint needs to be larger, but we need to be in the locations where we’re needed and to provide the right kinds of care. We don’t need to have everything in Jasper, but we like those specialty services to come here. That, over time, has fueled a significant amount of our growth. What kind of challenge has recruiting staff created? We’ve had our challenges. Any time we can leverage any kind of existing geographic commitment — they’re from southern Indiana or their spouse is from here — we work on that. We also do our best to follow — we have a list of individuals who are in undergraduate school, medical school, we know where they’re at. We touch base with them at different times during the year and work to maintain contact so when the time comes, they consider coming back here to practice. We have a full-time recruiter in house, that’s all this person does is to maintain contact, develop new contacts, manage that process. … At times, it’s a battle. It’s getting them here. We’ve had physicians come and leave. We continue to work at it. How far ahead do you have to be thinking when you’re considering technology and your future. You can’t think about today, today, can you? Things are moving so quickly that it’s difficult to try to project too far into the future. Our strategic plan is a two- to threeyear projection, but that’s it. We visit it with the board every year and we visit it quarterly with our administrative staff — is everything valid, do we need to switch something up or back? We’ve worked to turn it into a fairly fluid process because things can change. Technology changes dramatically. But our biggest asset is people who work here — a manufacturer might have staff elsewhere in the country and can move (production). We can’t do that. Our service has to happen right here for the most part. We are always asking ourselves about our current and future plans and always thinking about how we need to respond to the community’s needs. We have biannual TOES sessions (trends, opportunities, weaknesses and strengths)

and we have 14 stakeholder groups we interview. That feedback becomes the basis for our strategic plan update. We try to be as nimble as we can be as we plan. As we continue to work to grow, while the area continues to grow, we know that MH and the services we provide are geographically essential. When you look at Dubois County as an economic hub, we feel that we facilitate that. We can be the health care hub for the communities around us. The relationship we have with the communities, the business and us, that success is interdependent. DR. STAN TRETTER, vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer What’s the timeline and plan for the residency center? By creating a family physician training center, it will help us in the short term and long term. We know there’s a need for primary care in our communities and to provide that in the short term, this program will bring in resident physicians who can care for patients as they’re being trained. Then once they graduate the program, we’re hoping to recruit many of those Tretter to remain in our community. It’s a training program for graduating medical students who wish to specialize in family medicine. We’ll have five residents each year and it’s a three-year program. Once they complete that, they’ll be eligible to be full-fledge physicians. We’ll have the building completed by next fall (2018) and being the program in July 2019. That will not only bring in more primary-care physicians, but it will strengthen our medical community in many ways just to have them here. A big part of the community growing — to bring in more industry and have people come here and stay here — you have to have medical care for those people. Our hospital’s growth has paralleled the growth we’ve seen out of necessity. We need each other. Providing quality medical care for the community close to home is a priority. How does recruiting affect your program? We do what we can to grow our own and if they receive their training locally, they’re more likely to stay. That goes beyond just physicians but all our health care professionals. Our involvement with the Health Occupations Students of America program in the high schools, future nurses, whatever interests might be. We start those connections early so young people don’t depart but come back and know that there are opportunities here for them. (As of last year, in excess of 160 MHHCC employees had been through one of the local HOSA programs — almost 10 percent). What are byproducts or programs like this? The common theme is we’re looking to increase the breadth of what we do but also the quality of care we provide. Each of these star projects are integral services we offer but by improving any one of these, it improves our organization overall and that’s exciting to see how it all comes together. VICKI STUFFLE, trauma director The trauma designation. What changed there and what does it mean? Over the years, we’ve seen that the trauma system in the state was broken. A few years ago, the EMS Commission and Homeland Security came out with a triage and transport rule stating that if you were within so many minutes of a trauma center, you had to bypass those areas that were not a trauma center and go to a trauma center. Let’s say you had a fractured hip. That’s something we treat great here, have great outcomes with here. Patients would have to bypass us because that’s a traumatic injury. They’d have to go to Evansville, Bloomington or Vincennes. We compete with some

areas for patients, so it does affect us. We want to make sure we keep taking care of those patients. This year, we have increased our trauma volume by 40 percent. We are seeing growth. We talk to all the EMS services and other hospitals who can refer to us. What’s the process to obtaining Level III? It’s a lengthy process. We go through the state department Stuffle of health. If you look at trauma centers in Indiana on a map, you’ll see why Jasper needs to be a trauma center. There’s nothing around us. It’s Vincennes and Evansville. The American College of Surgeons verifies it in Indiana. Then you can’t charge for it until you’re verified. So there’s a lot of money spent as a hospital and staff for that to happen well before you’re ever reimbursed. TONYA HEIM, vice president of patient services and chief nursing officer What is the benefit of the process of growth? With the trauma center, we started on our journey two years ago when Vicki took that position. We recognized we needed to be a trauma center. We had to get things in place and one of those was a director of trauma and a trauma medical director. We had to educate our physicians, though most of them trained in trauma centers (most of Heim them trained in Level I). Then Dr. Vennekotter volunteered to be the director role and he’s been a strong believer in the benefits of being a trauma center. He said the things we learn and improvements we make not only improve the care of trauma patients, but it will raise the bar for every patient we take care of and it will benefit our daily work life at a level we can’t imagine. That’s what we’ve seen. … The process of qualifying to be a trauma center has certainly refined our work in the hospital. We have surgery and the ER and the floors talking at a level about how we process the patient through the system probably more than we ever did. We’re doing case reviews; what can we learn from cases we’ve had to do it better next time? Process review and improvement is a key to becoming a trauma center. Explain the background for the stroke program and the telemedicine. One of the things we do is look at internal data that informs us about what patient and community needs are. We track every patient who’s transferred out of here for a higher level of care. We know if they’re transferred out for stroke, for urology, for cardiology. We review that and from that data, we knew neurology was a large unmet need. The doctor who had been a neurologist at U of L became chair of their department. She came to us and asked if we’d consider. We’d already had a partnership set up with them and a lot of our strokes were going there. She opened the door for us to take it to the next level. What was it like before this stroke program? If we had a stroke patient in the window where they could benefit from the clotbusting drug, we’d give them that then put them in an ambulance and send them to Louisville. The family is driving separately and navigating traffic and often times the patient got there and laid in the ER because they were no longer an emergency to them. They were an emergency and priority to us but with everything they have going on, that patient wasn’t an emergency to them. We heard complaints about that. We had 80

strokes a year then and in the first quarter this year, we kept 48. So the number of strokes coming to us now that the word is out that we take care of strokes has increased more than we anticipated. That tells us that we had identified an issue and gap, the gap was much larger than we recognized. MELANIE POWELL • director of business development and marketing What kind on input does the public have? With the trauma designation, for instance, it was confusing for patients whose family wanted them sent here but they got sent to a trauma center. They’re asking why because this is the local hospital where they want their family member to get well. We see that. We see the need for family physicians, the need for us to take care of the people who live and work in this area. We are consistently looking and almost getting the voice of the consumer to ask what we need to do. A lot of times, they share with us before we even ask. That’s great that we have that kind of relationship. They’re able to say here are some things we’re surprised you’re not doing. Some things make sense. Some things don’t. We can’t be everything to everyone, but we can certainly think outside the box and provide services here we know we can do and we know we can do well. ADRIAN LANMAN, practice manager of hospitalist and telemedicine services Explain the stroke telemedicine program and the stroke robot. We had tried to recruit neurology to handle the inpatient side of things for a long time. We have neurology, we just don’t have enough. We were the No. 3 regional transfer into U of L at the time. They said they got a lot of business from us and wanted to do whatever they could to help us keep our patients closer to home. We were transferring 84 percent of our stroke patients Lanman at the time. Today, we transfer 11 percent. Take me through the process. When a patient comes in and we think they’re a stroke, it starts from when EMS is called. They can call and say they think they had a stroke. It took almost a year to get those processes built to be able to roll out our golive date in October 2016. There’s a strokeactivation team of about 12 people so when that patient comes in with that stroke, everybody on that team meets the patient in the ER. We have processes for walk-ins as well. Time is brain; we need to get there as quickly as possible. If the patient is transferred, we can send them anywhere, so if U of L says they need to be transferred, we send them where they want to go. If we can keep them, we will admit them and then U of L will continue to round on them until they’re not needed. So you say robot. Doctors in Louisville see patients here through the robot? It’s Ace. We have to do a lot of nursing education because basically the nurses here are their arms. He can do everything but he still needs nursing to assist. That was a huge push because we had never kept true stroke patients here. The physician in Louisville has full joystick control so if they’re looking at the patient but a family member over here has a question, the robot turns like a person would. (The screen on top turns like a person’s head and the robot can zoom in on eyes). We knew it was foreign to everyone here and we didn’t know how it would go over here, so we wanted to get the robot that was as interactive as possible. Patients have told us they don’t realize they’re talking to a robot it’s so interactive. (The robot during the exam is situated at the foot of the bed).



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VUJC fuels jobs, economy By ALLEN LAMAN JASPER — In an alternate universe where the Vincennes University Jasper Campus does not exist, the city is struggling to stand. “It’s almost like taking a table and kicking one of the legs out,” said Dean Ackerman, the school’s former dean. “You lose a lot of stability. One of the things this campus does — it supports people.” Among its many positive purposes, Ackerman and current VUJC Dean Christian Blome stressed that one of the college’s primary roles is to prepare students for work in local industries. They said this is achieved through programs that get students out into local businesses and operations, the school’s continued work with Dubois Strong — the economic development group housed on the VUJC campus — and the school’s latest endeavor, a survey that is being administered to local business and industry leaders to determine what they would like to see the school offer to better prepare students for work in the area. Now in retirement, Ackerman said he knows the school is in good hands. Blome, who took his post in early July, said he is ready to continue Ackerman’s work to make the school a fixture in the county and community. “By providing the training opportunities to the unemployed, the underemployed and the incumbent worker ... by having that here, locally in the region, it helps local employers attract and retain a talented workforce,” Blome said. “But then, from an economic development standpoint, we play a role in helping to attract new investment.” Many of the students who attend the Jasper branch stay in the area after earning an associate’s degree or certification. On top of associate’s degree occupational programs, the school also offers associate’s degree transfer programs and a nursing bachelor’s degree program. The branch has operated in the city since 1970. The way Ackerman and Blome see it, the growth is mutual. Recently, Jim McFaul,

the school’s instructor of continuing education, has been working with local industry leaders and other community members to further explore how the school can help organizations in the area. McFaul said the survey is helping determine the business and industry training needs in the region. It has been distributed to entities like manufacturers, nonprofit organizations and healthcare providers. “We’re just trying to assess the needs, and based on that assessment, we want to be able to offer training,” McFaul said, further noting that the school has provided training for businesses and industries for several years. The survey itself is directed at incumbent workers, while the school’s CAP Program — an internship program that pairs students with industries and businesses — is intended for students without jobs. Blome and Ackerman stressed the school also has benefits to students returning home from college for the summer and employees at local companies who choose to return to school to learn new techniques that can help them progress in their field. Blome explained that providing training services to unemployed citizens and incumbent workers helps local employers attract and retain a talented workforce and more. “From an economic development standpoint, we play a role in helping to attract new investment,” Blome said. “Whether that’s by the current companies that are located here now, encouraging them to reinvest and expand, or whether that’s attracting brand new industry to the region. I think it always helps when you have that community partner with boots on the ground, ready to provide that training.” He said that with the results from the area survey, the school will also start offering education workshops to local industry employees. “All this support for local businesses and local industry — when you start losing the educational side, how are these companies going to train new employees and existing employees who want to learn new technolo-

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Economist: To stay relevant, we need more By JASON RECKER From the inside, Dubois County is doing just fine. Jasper has major housing, shopping and civic plans in the making and Huntingburg is amid various Stellar Communities projects. Surrounded by rural counties, we’re considered the epicenter of activity for many southwestern Indiana residents. But give statistics to an Indiana University economist and he’ll tell you it’s not quite so rosey. Morton Marcus is the director emeritus of the Indiana Business Research Center at IU’s Kelley School of Business and has been a part of the state’s economic development push since 1970. He’s taught at IU. He’s advised six governors and acted as a liaison to the U.S. Census Bureau for more than 20 years. He knows all about Indiana’s economy and he’s well aware of Dubois County. He says that in the push for growth, we need more. Tell me about your numbers, the big things. There are some things to be careful about. The average earnings per job went up 28 percent and that’s higher than state and higher than the U.S. But growth was below the national level. Wage and salary employment went down by 1.5 percent. The nation is growing by 5.8 percent, the state isn’t even half of that and Jasper is falling. That’s not a healthy situation. We’re talking about a decline in jobs in Dubois County. Then, per capita income grew 42 percent. The population grew by 2.9 percent. It’s not that you’re doing well in attracting and keeping people. It’s because you’re doing poorly in that area that per capita is exaggerated. The increase in per capita income exceeds that of both the state and the nation. The problem is that the population growth was so slow. That’s why per capita income moved faster than the national number. The same thing has happened with Knox County. If the kids leave home and parents still have jobs, per capita income will rise. People say those are the metrics that Gov. Daniels chose and Gov. Pence chose to say how well our communities are doing, but it’s a bad indicator. I’ve tried to talk to them and tell them it’s a bad indicator. So what should we look at? You need to look at average wages if you want to talk about the economy. And if you want to look at overall health of the community, you need to look at population. You’re around about 4 percent. That’s an awfully low rate of growth for a 10-year period of time. The real issue is wages are growing, that’s good. But are the jobs growing? Is the amount of money circulating growing so that merchants can survive? The county just does not show a good deal of vitality even though people throughout the state, when they talk about places that are doing well in Indiana, always include Jasper and Dubois County. I wonder if that isn’t a leftover opinion of several decades ago. Given the low unemployment rate here and the availability of jobs, I would suspect there are officials here who would refute your take. They’re looking at today or this month. And that’s right — low unemployment, workers needed. The point is that tomorrow is made up of not just today but many yesterdays. That’s why I like this 10-year period of time. We went through a severe recession and a recovery. The U.S. had that problem. Indiana had that problem. Dubois County had that problem. How are we when compared to the state, people ask. I can tell you the state is not doing well compared to the nation. Indiana is sinking compared to the nation. There are only three counties that had a growth rate in the last decade of greater than the national average. And being at the national average means you’re basically mediocre. Who wants to be an average baseball team? You don’t win anything by being an average baseball team. If you don’t see vitality here, what kind of future does that signal for us? I think one of the things that needs to be considered is where is Jasper in terms of its accessibility to the rest of the world? Where

is the four-lane highway that connects you to I-69? Lamar Alexander is a senator from Tennessee, but when he was governor, one of his promises (which he did not fulfill) was to get a four-lane highway from every county seat to the nearest interstate. Never heard that Marcus from another governor but it seems to make sense to me. We’ve built I-69 but you look at the map and how well does it do in connecting to Jasper? The road didn’t go through and we can live with that. But at least give us a good road so the trucks moving from the factories in Jasper or just the Walmart delivery truck has a good road. Otherwise, you’re off the modern transportation network. The whole idea of I-69 was to connect the communities in southern Indiana to the interstate. What else needs to change? Another one is connectivity. What’s the quality of internet service? That is extremely important. Communities grew in the past because they were connected to other places by a river or railroad or highways. Jasper has thrived without having a decent highway for a long time and I’m sure there are people who want to keep it that way. You have to consider how well-situated you are. The internet is critical. Are there other places that mirrored Dubois County a few years ago and got better or worse? Hamilton County (north of Indianapolis), Fishers has an IKEA and people in Noblesville are jealous. Warsaw does very well because they have a prosthetics plant; you need a hip, Warsaw sends it out. They’re not a metropolitan area. They have industry that’s on the cutting edge of medical treatment. There’s growth in Owen County because Koch has expanded and Boston Scientific is there. The industries in Jasper and Huntingburg are not in medical technology. Jasper, any time I mention it, they mention the piano. Well I don’t think they’ve shipped a piano recently, but it has a reputation. I would suspect a large number of people there think about the past as being the present. Realty changed without our perception changing. What’s in store for the furniture manufacturers? If you look at personal income from furniture and related products, nationally it’s down 13 percent. In Dubois County, it’s up 16 percent. That’s in terms of income generated. You’re doing well in a declining industry and that’s always a questionable situation to be in. It’s good news but it’s also bad news. The industry itself is sinking but you have firms that have survivorship. But the industry is in trouble. Wood products manufacturing and furniture are two of the three that show double-digit declines. That signals to me that this whole idea of what Indiana used to be — think about RCA in Bloomington back in the day — it’s not as important when wood is coming from Indonesia these days. If things don’t change, what happens to a community? The community at some point, if the firms involved with furniture are successful, that’s all good and they will help sustain the community. But you have to look at other kinds of industries, other kinds of products. Nationally, computer and electronic products went up 10 percent but down in Indiana by 7 percent. (There’s no data in Dubois County on that). Electrical equipment, appliances, that went up 18 percent in the nation and down 25 percent in Indiana. In manufacturing, Dubois County hasn’t had that kind of decline like the state or nation, so it’s like fighting a rear-guard action: You’re doing well, holding off the problems the world is bringing on, doing better than the state and nation, but that’s not necessarily a favorable position to be in. You want to turn that around and make sure you have resources and people who can participate in the economy that is developing and that’s hard to do if you don’t have the movement of goods and the movement of information in good shape — that

means, again, the highway to I-69 and the internet. And I’d add to that the local airport since more and more firms have people who fly from one place to another and that’s a growing part of our economy. You don’t have to land 747s but are the existing facilities adequate so executives can come into town easily? In terms of population and retail and industry and connectivity, Dubois County is kind of an island, a central figure in southwest Indiana between Evansville, Louisville and Bloomington. That’s one of its strengths. Or should be. But I suspect it isn’t. Those rural folks, when they go shopping, may go to Evansville or Bloomington. I-69 opens it up. If you look at jobs in retail trade, in the nation, there’s been only a slight advance. The decline in Dubois County was twice the decline of the state. That tells me that retail trade is just not doing that well. Retail is under tremendous pressure and Jasper is no different than anyplace else when it comes to Amazon. So there’s good news and there’s bad news. There’s good news and bad news. The question is what are the important areas. We’re talking about nearly 4,000 jobs in retail trade 10 years ago and it’s down to 3,600 in 2015. Things are better in 2017 than in 2015, but again, we have to look at trends. Where are we going? Compare apples to apples, compare to the U.S. and Indiana in the same period of time. ... Look what happened to construction in the county — 19 percent decline in jobs compared to a 10 percent decline nationally and 12 percent decline in Indiana. Those are the kinds of things I look at and say that it’s an extreme situation in some cases. Now there are good instances also, but I don’t know what to make of them. Why is it that in finance and insurance, the county has done just about as well as the nation and twice as well as the state? My suspicion is the big banks in the state

didn’t have growth and Jasper, because of its centrality and history of homegrown banks, did better. Jasper has several upgrades and updates planned for downtown. Huntingburg has Stellar Communities projects ongoing. Ferdinand is adding housing. What sort of impact does quality of place have? It’s very important, but the most important aspect in quality of place is quality of high school. If I was going to pick one thing in a community, I’d ask what’s the quality of secondary education? If you’re thinking about moving and you have kids who are below high school age, you’re going to think about what kind of high school they’ll have, what kind of education they’ll get because the kind of education will determine something about where they’re able to go to college and what kind of person they will be. A good school knows how to handle (problems). People tend to paint a rosier picture of our region than you’ve painted. I’m guessing people think you’re off-base. I’d say that all of the things I’m saying really can’t be countered. They’re based on facts. The thing is that (Dubois County) needs the kinds of improvements like the Stellar Communities will support. But it needs other things as well. There’s nothing wrong with the programs in place. Those are on track. But that’s not sufficient. The state highway department has got to schedule improvements to a road that goes west to I-69. One of those roads needs to be upgraded to a good four-lane and the other should be a Super 2 (where you have a wider lanes and good berm on the side). Frankfort just a few years ago completed State Road 28 as a fourlane road. They lost a lot of companies but they’ve been able to refill their factories. That’s a result in part of they had buildings in good condition but at the same time they have that four-lane road to I-65.


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Current Blend community coordinator Courtney Knies of Jasper worked at the co-work space in Huntingburg.

Nonprofit aims to foster entrepreneurs’ success By ELLI SCHANK HUNTINGBURG — In a community with an already impressive number of successful businesses, the team at Current Blend wants new entrepreneurs to get their own chance at success. Formed by a board of individuals with previous experience in business, Current blend is a nonprofit that provides young entrepreneurs and business owners office space and equipment needed to get their ideas off the ground. “Current Blend has a twofold mission: first, to provide a space where individuals can co-work together,” said Courtney Knies, Current Blend’s community coordinator. “Then, once they become a member and are connected to the space it’s about the programs and the connections we are able to do there.” Knies has been the Current Blend community coordinator since April and helps manage the facility and its outreach. The premise of Current Blend — which

is located on Fourth Street in Huntingburg — is one that only works if many members use the space. One major goal of the facility is to increase membership, which leads to a larger network that can entice others to join. Outreach programs are held once a month to bring in new members. Currently, 51 members use the space either part or full time. Knies said that entrepreneurship is something that people do not seem to be open enough to pursuing. She pointed out that companies such as MasterBrand and OFS also had to be started at one point by an entrepreneur. “The mural in downtown Jasper says that it was founded on entrepreneurship, but I think sometimes we don’t exactly know what that means,” Knies said. “Or we forget that MasterBrand hasn’t always been MasterBrand and started as Aristokraft. It was even smaller before that ... the larger corporations that are headquartered here were started by somebody with an idea who kept finding the resources and taking risks to move on to the next step and grow their

passion.” Talks about the need for a co-working space began in 2014 between professionals representing many industries in the area. With collaboration from multiple businesses, the facility officially opened in 2015. It’s controlled by board members board members. Josh Premuda — co-owner of Brew in Jasper, owner of Smalley Coffee and an original Current Blend board member — is familiar with facilities such as this one. He spent time working in Washington D.C. and Denver in development and marketing, where he relied upon co-working spaces similar to Current Blend to have a proper office to work in. When he decided to open a business in Dubois County, he saw a need for a co-working space for his own business goals. “Personally my whole goal was to be a part of something I was looking for,” Premuda said. He actually owned the domain name Current Blend from a previous business venture, and the board decided they liked it so it was used for the final

name. Premuda a board member to this day. The space on Huntingburg’s Fourth Street is outfitted with furniture from OFS Brands and currently could seat around 30 people. Members have 24/7 access to the facility and locker spaces to keep their things in for convenience. Membership at the facility varies from realtors, college students and the Dubois County Airport Authority. Two of the newest members are Nick Pieper and Noah Mehringer, 2017 Jasper High School graduates who are currently working on securing a patent for a surgery component they invented. Their memberships were granted through Dubois Strong. The area around Current Blend will be looking new as well in the coming years as the Market Street Project takes shape. This project will construct a park in the area between Current Blend and the Old Town Hall. Though Current Blend will largely look the same, the basement part of the building will be converted into bathrooms for the park’s patrons.

Approaches vary for filling empty storefronts By OLIVIA INGLE Jasper, Huntingburg and Ferdinand all take a different approach in filling empty storefronts. Huntingburg has a low interest loan fund in place to help attract business owners to locate within the city. “We have a committee who meets and votes on an application request,” said Rachel Steckler, the city’s director of communication and community development. “It’s city money. It’s for new and existing businesses. They have to be within a two-mile radius of city limits.” The city has found some success in filling vacancies. They took a business inventory on Fourth Street a couple of months ago, Steckler said, and the vacancy rate was at 14 percent, down 10 percent from the previous year.

“And, we’ve had three new businesses come (since),” Steckler added. Brian Dale, president of the Ferdinand Chamber of Commerce, said the Chamber is always aware of where the empty storefronts are in town and is always promoting those locations to potential tenants. “We try to partner with the town and try to do what we can,” he said. For instance, vacancies in a strip mall near the McDonald’s on the town’s south side are filling up quickly, Dale said. Those storefronts are some of the newest in town. Others stay empty for much longer. “Some buildings are a challenge based on how old they are or how the building’s laid out,” Dale said. “We do recognize that there’s a need to fill those buildings that are empty and we’re trying to be as proactive as we can. “There’s a benefit from both the town and Chamber standpoint to fill those

businesses.” Nancy Eckerle, executive director of the Jasper Chamber of Commerce, said she doesn’t have to help much with filling downtown Jasper storefronts. “It’s strange in the downtown area,” she said. “Those kind of fill themselves.” She said there aren’t typically many vacancies because the buildings are owner-occupied, the owners live in the area and they have a vested interest in the community. “They put in the effort to keep the buildings nice-looking and well-kept,” she said, also saying that many times downtown business owners have a new owner or business already lined up before they vacate. The town’s shopping center’s, on the other hand, often do have vacancies. While it’s not Eckerle’s job to try to fill those vacancies, she does keep in touch with owners of the town’s four major shopping centers — Jasper Manor, Southgate,

Germantown and Northridge — to ensure their needs, as well as the area’s consumers’ needs, are being met. Those owners are always searching for tenants. Jim Wittman — vice president of leasing and development for Regency Properties, which owns the Germantown Shopping Center on Jasper’s north side — told The Herald in April that Regency has “a number of deals we’re constantly working on.” Eckerle also told The Herald in April that it’s ultimately up to shopping center owners, but there’s not a huge effort in getting big-box stores and big national chains to locate in the area because they can hurt locally-owned businesses. “A lot of times, the locally-owned businesses are the backbone of the community,” she said. “They are the ones who support the ball teams, the civic clubs, the school programs and those kind of things.”





Infrastructure progress builds incrementally By BILL POWELL County Highway Superintendent Steve Berg knows that if Dubois County’s infrastructure wasn’t progressing, the county would be going backward. Progress is important, Berg says, for prosperity and keeping good-paying jobs here. While we wait for big swings to occur like the proposed Midstate Corridor — that project that could one day give Dubois County industries a straighter shot to Indianapolis — and the $14.5 million in Dubois County projects in the next five years as part of Indiana’s Next Level Roads initiative, Berg knows his job is to ensure the rest of the county’s existing infrastructure keeps making incremental progress. That “incremental” modifier relates to the fact that the county highway department has a set budget and a staff of 30 to cover 660 miles of roads. And that personnel total includes office staff. By comparison, the City of Jasper’s street department has a staff of 34, including office personnel, to tend to 112.4 miles of streets. The county has a three-person bridge crew and Berg asks the department’s two mechanics to go out and do tasks such as brush cutting and stone hauling. Still, things were going great this spring until the last weekend of April rolled around and places like Huntingburg received 11.8 inches of rain, including 8.6 inches in one 24-hour span. “We were in really, really good shape,” Berg remembers. “We were caught up and I was looking to expand our maintenance a little bit.” Then the deluge sent parked cars floating away as the county highway department quickly ran out of “high water” signs to post on all the flooded sections of roads. The culverts, bridges and roads that began blowing out included a 20-foot-wide, 6-footdeep crater that opened at the Norton Tunnel in the extreme northeast corner of the

county. The department was still discovering culvert washouts from the storm during the last full week of June. “We’ve dealt with flooded roads before but nothing with the damage that this did,” Berg says. “It was so widespread.” There went any semblance of a “normal schedule” this year. “We try to be flexible,” says Berg, who has headed the county’s highway department since 2002. “We’re always learning something to responsibly spend our tax dollars.” To stretch money and halt the clock on road deterioration, the county is employing new processes like rejuvenating surface seal coats. The seal coat material basically softens the asphalt, according to the highway chief. “As that road asphalt is lying there with the sun beating down on it and there’s the wear and tear of truck traffic, the sun makes it brittle,” Berg explains. “This rejuvenator actually goes in there and softens it up. It stops the clock on the aging process for a period of time.” The process appears to stop existing cracks from getting bigger, Berg says. And he sees very little new cracking on roads treated with the rejuvenator. “We’re going to be trying another brand of rejuvenating product sometime in August” in conjunction with the City of Jasper’s street department, which is using the same contractor, Berg says. “We’re going to tag team on the mobilization costs,” the county highway chief said. “Those are things we’re doing now that we didn’t do as recently as six, seven or eight years ago.” Whenever there is second-guessing by the public, Berg notes that the things an average motorist may not notice when driving a road at speed become all to apparent when county officials walk the pavement to note cracks and signs of trouble. Berg’s participation in work-related boards and agencies — he recently completed a stint as president of the Indiana Association of County Highway Engineers and

Supervisors — keeps him apprised of the state’s latest legislation and gas tax revenue projections as well as the industry’s newest road preservation techniques. The county devotes seven people to a chip-and-seal crew. They apply liquid asphalt to roadways and top that with limestone chips in a surface treatment that increases friction for stopping while sealing roadbeds for extended service. If someone is missing from one of Berg’s various crews on any given day, manpower is borrowed from another work section within the highway department. Every August for the last 10 or 12 years, Berg has devoted time to rating the county’s roads, from asphalt roadways to chip-andseal and dirt paths. He has always used the Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating system and, now, the Indiana Department of Transportation has everyone in the state using that PASER protocol to rate road pavement condition. “That’s a common-sense approach for putting the money where it needs to go,” he says. The PASER scores are key in the Community Crossings matching grant system INDOT launched in 2016 that funds road and bridge preservation, roundabouts, road reconstruction projects and Americans with Disabilities Act sidewalk ramps that intersect with road projects. Dubois County used its most recent Community Crossings grant to resurface sections of County Road 325E in the Beaver Lake area, County Road 850W in Cass Township heading toward Lake Helmerich, KalbZehr Road in the Dubois area, Holland Road East, County Road 1000S and Kyana Road. When major progress occurs with the Midstate Corridor project — the highway will link southern Indiana with northwest Kentucky and give Dubois County industries that straight shot to Indianapolis — county officials are eyeing how they can help capitalize on the big step forward. That could mean extending and/or beefing up some county roads and maybe chang-

ing an alignment to help traffic flow through and around Jasper, Berg says, adding that it’s too soon to talk specific roads. Once the Midstate Corridor is firmly in the pipeline, Berg says, the county will likely do studies of its own on projects that could help expedite good travel. Indiana’s Next Level Roads initiative is a 20-year state improvement plan that includes $14.5 million for Dubois County roads during the first five years, including select highway asphalt overlays and multiple small structure replacements under highways. Dubois County was planning for the future with the passage in 2004 of an ordinance establishing standards for subdivisions in the county. It established minimum lot sizes at 1 acre and set forth that if land is divided into lots and at least one of those lots is less than 10 acres, that subdivision must be platted and follow standards, such as guidelines for lot sizes, utilities and setback lines. Berg says the subdivision ordinance remains all about progress and protections. It put a halt to the development of substandard roadways, which were doomed to remain private roads unless there was added investment from individual landowners, which led to neighbor disputes. Now, roads that are up to standard can be accepted into the county’s inventory. And that means county snow plows and school buses will service them and fire trucks and ambulances can get back to homes built off them. Approved roads do not have to be super wide, they do not require curbs and the county allows a chip-and-seal surface, which is a lot more affordable than hot mix asphalt, according to the county highway chief. Berg says the ordinance is providing for controlled growth and giving protections to residents. Improvements to it can always come under consideration, he adds. “To be responsible and to control your growth in a responsible way, you have to have certain guidelines and that’s all our subdivision ordinance really is,” Berg says.



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Radius Indiana sees economic opportunity here By OLIVIA INGLE BEDFORD — Officials with Radius Indiana believe southern Indiana is full of economic opportunities and the organization seeks to market those opportunities in the best ways it can. The organization focuses on economic development in an eight-county region — Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Martin, Orange, Lawrence and Washington counties. Contracted with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Radius Indiana Quyle strives to help business growth and employment throughout the region. “We focus on the region as a whole,” said Jeff Quyle, president and CEO of Radius Indiana. “It’s a diverse region. ... This year we’ll make 10 trips across the U.S. to talk to business advisers and make our Radius sales pitch. Let them know what assets and opportunities are in the region. Our goal is to make them aware of what’s in the region and make sure they get all the information.” Business advisers analyze problems and potential risks for their clients and advise them on what could make their companies the most efficient and profitable. In Radius Indiana’s case, they want to convince the advisers that locating to the agency’s eightcounty region would be advantageous for their clients. Quyle said several aspects of the region attract economic development: Interstate 69, Interstate 64, Crane and the food processing industry. “We also think the Midstate Corridor is a good idea, although we’re uncertain of the route,” Quyle said. “But, as long as the eight-county region can see (some part

This map depicts non-funded conceptual routes through Dubois County as identified by the private sector. of it), it’s attractive for current and future growth.” The Midstate Corridor would be a fourlane, limited-access highway that would ease traffic on U.S. 231 between I-64 and I-69 through Dubois, Martin and Spencer counties. Radius Indiana has a contact within each of its counties, with Ed Cole of Dubois Strong being the Dubois County contact. Quyle said they have conversations about entrepreneurship, initiatives and companies coming into the county. When Quyle thinks of Dubois County, he said he thinks of “the extraordinary entrepreneurial manufacturing culture that wants to continue to evolve, expand and re-

main successful.” It’s also beneficial, he said, that company headquarters are located here — like Kimball International — which allows the decision-makers to really know the community. He’s also a proponent of the developments in both Jasper and Huntingburg — such as the projects that are part of Huntingburg’s Stellar Communities designation and Jasper’s River Centre project — saying that such projects “tell a good story.” “If they (outsiders) understand there is momentum and a plan, it increases the attractiveness of a community,” he said. Even with its current projects, Quyle said Dubois County needs to continue to

look to the future. “So many people commute to Dubois County, which makes it imperative for leaders to look at where their workforce comes from,” he said. “Makes it important to improve transportation and infrastructure, housing, retail hubs.” Radius Indiana will continue working to maintain and strengthen manufacturing, defense and growth along I-69 in the region. “We’ll also educate community leaders to understand the nuts and bolts of economic development and that if they want a positive, long-term future, they need to make positive, long-term investments,” he said. “They have to be willing to make those investments.”



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Housing ‘always an issue’ By LEANN BURKE When moving to Dubois County, finding somewhere to live could be more difficult than expected. The difficulty in finding a place to live has a ripple effect, impacting workforce attraction and development, which has been a focal point for local officials and employers alike given the county’s traditionally low unemployment rates. For Ed Cole, president of economic development group Dubois Strong, building more housing is integral to the county’s continued economic growth. “We know that affordable housing is always going to be an issue when it comes to workforce,” Cole said. According to data from Dubois Strong, Dubois County has 17,720 housing units — 12,417 homes and 3,576 rentals. Meanwhile, Dubois County’s population is 42,552, with just over 32,000 people age 18 or older, and just over 7,000 age 65 or over a d 12,000 nearing that age, according to StatsIndiana, Indiana’s public data utility. StatsIndiana estimates the county’s population will top 44,000 by 2020, and a 2015 housing study by Dubois Strong found that the county’s main municipalities — Ferdinand, Huntingburg and Jasper — will need 400 to 710 more housing units total by then. Ferdinand Father-son duo Randy and Dakota Begle are developing Royal Ridge Apartments, which will add 54 apartments to the town’s north side near Industrial Park Road. The Begles plan to have the first building — which will hold 12 units — completed by December, bringing Ferdinand much needed rental vacancies.


“Early on in the process, we visited (Cole),” said Dakota of Begle Properties. “We were shocked at some of the reports we were reading. At the time the study was completed, Ferdinand reported a zero percent vacancy rate. From that moment on, we knew something needed to be done.” Rents for the apartments have not been finalized, but Dakota estimates $685-$695 a month for the two-bedroom units and $565$585 a month for the single-bedroom units. The units will come with in-unit washer and dryer hookups and will allow small dogs. Right now, the Begles have platted land for three additional buildings that will bring the development up to 54 units, but they are waiting to plan further construction until they can assess demand. To meet Ferdinand’s senior housing needs, the Sisters of St. Benedict converted Benet Hall, an old dormitory, into 15 senior housing units. That project was completed in 2016, and 13 of the units are occupied. Trilogy Health Services, LLC and the Sisters of St. Benedict have also signed a letter of intent for Trilogy to lease eight acres of the monastery’s property for a nursing home facility that would offer skilled nursing, assisted living and rehabilitative care. Huntingburg Less than a year after the August 2016 ribbon cutting at the Lofts of St. Joseph, 40 of the 45 senior housing apartments in the old St. Joseph’s Hospital building are filled, with additional applications in process. The development offers independent living apartments to citizens age 55 and older. Huntingburg Mayor Denny Spinner expects the city to see an additional need for senior housing in the future. “The statistics are clear that this is a growing population,” Spinner said. “In the next several years, there will be a significant number of people retiring from the workforce. There’s a current demand, but the demand will continue to be there for the foreseeble future.” Spinner also said that as people retire, they’re choosing to stay in the area, leading their families to seek affordable housing options for them. As far as new construction in Huntingburg goes, Indianapolis developer Jane Hendrickson of Boxer Girl, LLC and build-

er JAGOE Homes of Owensboro are developing Hunters Crossing, a subdivision that will include 120 new single-family homes on Chestnut Street between 12th and 17th streets and a nearby park. There are currently four completed homes in the development. Of the four completed, one is a model, one is occupied, one is being sold and one is being built. JAGOE new home consultant Joseph Acquisto said more and more people are stopping by to tour the model and more are calling each day. One more housing project is in the beginning stages in Huntingburg, according to Spinner. The project will be part of the city’s Stellar Communities designation and be partially funded by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority. “There is a private developer who is researching workforce housing opportunities in Huntingburg,” Spinner said. In February, the city joined the Indiana Multi-City Housing Partnership, which offers down-payment assistance or assistance with closing costs for people who want to get a loan through national programs like Freddie Mac, USDA Rural Development, Federal Housing Authority, Veterans Administration and Federal National Mortgage Association, known as Fannie Mae. The program is geared toward working people who make between 120 percent and 140 percent of Dubois County’s median income. The borrower must also have a credit score of at least 640. Jasper Housing developments are in the works all over the City of Jasper. Jasper Lofts, a workforce housing development on Dewey Street in the old Jofco building, opened earlier this year and has filled more than half of the 67 one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments in the development. Cincinnatibased developer Miller Valentine built and manages the building. The apartments are rent-controlled based on income and are geared toward people who make 60 percent or less of the average median income, which is $47,400 for one person. The apartments are pet-friendly and come with myriad amenities such as a fitness center, playground and on-site management offices. Next door, Miller Valentine recently began construction on Vine Street Lofts, a se-

nior housing development in the old Jasper Wood Products facility. Senior Developer Pete Schwiegeraht estimates that project is a year from completion. Along the Patoka riverfront, Hendrickson, who is developing Hunters Crossing in Huntingburg, expects construction to begin at her River Centre development in the beginning of 2018. The development will include a mixed-used building with retail, apartment spaces and a hotel. Construction on the hotel will begin in September. “The city is on board with getting all (the approvals) done as quickly as possible,” Hendrickson said. Also along the riverfront at South Newton Street, local company Servus! is in the beginning stages of a mixed-use development that will include a McAlister’s Deli, retail space, the company’s corporate headquarters and high-end apartments. Servus! president and CEO Jason Kelly said the apartments will be 11,000 to 19,000 square feet and rent from $1,200 to $2,400, although rents have not yet been established. “We see this as a great option for every company bringing management or empty nesters who want a larger space but don’t want to mow or maintain,” Kelly said. Servus! plans to break ground in October and have a 12-month building period. Developer and home builder Kerstiens Homes & Designs has several subdivision developments in the works in Jasper: Brookstone Estates and Trinity Crossing on the city’s west side and Windsong Estates on Portersville Road. When completed, those developments will add 46 lots for future homeowners. Four other developments are in the building phase. With the supply of existing homes at an all-time low, Todd Kerstiens said he sees a higher demand for homes. Kerstiens’ homes generally fall between $160,000 and $250,000. Kerstiens said he gets clientele from all over. Some are people living on the outskirts of the city wishing to move into the city limits or to be closer to their jobs. Others are from out of town looking for a place to live after taking a job at a local company. Kerstiens has had clients from Chicago, Indianapolis, Tennessee and even North Carolina.

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Building Strong Waterproof Foundations Issues you notice about your foundation or basement are things we are here to consult with you about. If you have vertical or stairstep cracks in your home’s foundation, bowing basement walls, cracks in your brick or stone work, windows and doors hard to open, wet basement, or musty smells, these are all signs of potential foundation trouble.

These problems can occur whether your home is old or new, whether it sits on a crawlspace, basement, or a combination of both. Bramwell-McKay has replaced more foundations in the Midwest than any other contractor.

Our knowledge of foundation repair and replacement is unsurpassed. For help in Jasper, Evansville, Bloomington, Indianapolis, or Louisville, contact Bramwell-McKay for a free, no-obligation consultation and assessment of your foundation’s condition. Call 812-631-5925.

Our Services Include: Historic Restoration Consulting & Education Chimney Repair Commercial Masonry Crawl Space Conversions Expert Tuckpointing Foundation Repair Basement Waterproofing Masonry and Concrete Cutting Monuments and Signs Residential Masonry Structural Masonry Repair Summer Kitchens Walkways and Patios

2017 Building on a Solid Foundation  
2017 Building on a Solid Foundation