Proposed Monroe-Gregg budget presented Monday

(Originally posted on the MD Times’ website on September 13, 2017)

Monroe-Gregg School District superintendent William Roberson presented his recommended 2018 budget at the school board meeting Monday night.

According to Roberson, the department of local government says they have to advertise the budget high. He said he doesn’t anticipate the tax rate, currently at $1.07, being any higher in the near future.

The budget estimate for the following funds are:

• Rainy day: $250,000

• General: $12,308,943

• Debt service: $2,283,761

• School pension debt: $145,172

• Capital projects: $1,696,711

• Transportation: $1,295,000

• Bus replacement: $426,000

The total budget estimate is at $18,405,587 for now. Roberson recommended to move the energy-savings project money from capital projects to the debt fund. He made this recommendation because in doing so, next year the school district would be paying some projects off, thereby reducing the costs for the capital funds budget in 2018 by about $299,000.

The public did not share comments on the budget proposal. The budget will officially be adopted for 2018 at the Oct. 9 meeting. To view the entire taxpayer notice regarding the Monroe-Gregg 2018 budget, go to budgetnotices.in.gov or call 888-739-9826.

Dr. Ruth Gassman, executive director of the Indiana Prevention Resource Center, reached out to Roberson about Monroe-Gregg schools participating in the 2018 Indiana Youth Survey. The annual survey’s purpose is to gather data on alcohol, tobacco and drug use. Participation in the survey is free, and it will be administered between Jan. 29 and April 6 next year.

Roberson said not every student participates in the survey and they will not know for sure if each student who participates tells the truth. He said the district will receive the results from the survey, which the board approved to participate in this year.

Roberson and the board discussed a letter sent to them from Nate Dilley, director of special education at Monroe-Gregg School District, regarding the district’s opportunity to participate with the Metropolitan School District of Martinsville in the annual Special Olympics day. It will be held at Martinsville High School on Oct. 10 and Monroe-Gregg plans to send a group of about 20 students, ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade.

Last year, some of the students took a field trip to observe the event. This year, students would like to participate and will be asking the community to donate or help with the event. The school board gave its approval for the students to participate. To find out more about the event, visit its Facebook page at Facebook.com/MartinsvilleSOTrackandFieldDay.

Roberson shared a few updates to the board with what is happening at the schools. He explained that the building trades course — a high school class that takes place at Mooresville High School — will have a groundbreaking on constructing a new locker room area. Because of the costs for the project, Roberson said he thinks it is necessary for the Monrovia High School students to partner with Mooresville High School.

Roberson updated the school board on the performing arts center as well, and said the construction is going along very well. He said that once they secure the entire building and get the roof on, they will begin to dig the auditorium out on the south side. The construction is scheduled to be finished at the end of February to beginning of March. Roberson said they have yet to decide when to hold a dedication ceremony.

The next board meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 9 at the Monroe-Gregg Administration Building, 135 S. Chestnut St.

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BMO Harris Bank experiences irritant in building

(Originally posted on the MD Times’ website on September 13, 2017)

Firefighters assisted BMO Harris Bank employees into the ambulance following an incident at the Mooresville branch Saturday morning. Photo courtesy of Eric Scott Miller.

Due to an irritant in the air, employees at BMO Harris Bank in Mooresville were evacuated from the building on Saturday.

According to Mooresville Fire Department Chief Tim Medsker, the fire department received a call from BMO Harris, 46 Spring Mill Court, at around 10:20 a.m. One of the employees called the department after experiencing itchy, watery eyes and a sore throat.

The bank opened at 9 a.m. on Saturday, and the customers who came in and out did not experience this, according to Medsker. Five of the employees in the building started to notice these symptoms themselves after being inside the bank for an extended amount of time.

When the fire department showed up, they had the employees evacuate the building and have them decontaminated in the ambulance. They were sent to Mooresville Franciscan Health for safety precautions. Medkser said none of the employees seemed to have any significant illness or injury due to the irritant.

Although it is unknown what the irritant was, Medkser said the bank had a cleaning crew come in and decontaminate the entire building. He said no potential causes for the irritant they tested for came back positive. So far, Medsker said they have not heard back from the hospital or bank on what the irritant could have been or how the employees are doing.

Patrick O’Herlihy, spokesperson for BMO Harris, said the branch contacted health officials and the building was closed for cleaning and inspection, and it is now open again. He said he could not give any details on the situation due to employee confidentiality.

“For employee privacy reasons, we cannot get into specifics, but out of an abundance of caution, we recently contacted local health officials and we temporarily closed our Mooresville branch for their evaluation,” O’Herlihy said. “They conducted a review of the location and the branch is now open.”

Community concert season kicks off

(Originally posted on the MD Times’ website on September 13, 2017)

Since 1994, the Morgan County Community Concerts Association has provided music and entertainment each year.

After receiving a list from Allied Concert Services of about 30 performers, the association spends about three and a half hours to decide who it wants to bring to Morgan County, according to board member and publicity committee member George Boder. The organization tries to have at least four performances each season, depending on the cost to bring in certain performers.

Not only does the association bring in singers, it tries to bring in other talent too. It has had dance groups, acrobats from China, a Russian symphonic choir, comedians and dog acts.

This season, the association has four shows: The David Osborne Trio, Scott Kirby, Scarborough Fair and The Glenn Miller Orchestra. The David Osborne Trio kicks off the season this Saturday, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

According to vice president Janice Lindboe, one reason the group chose David Osborne to perform is because he is known as the “Pianist to the Presidents,” as he has performed for Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He met Carter at a book-signing event in Orlando, Florida, and he has played almost every year for his birthday for the past 30 years.

“I thought, ‘How often are we going to get somebody who gets to go to the White House every time, here in Martinsville? This is awesome,’” Lindboe said.

Osborne also performs on the Las Vegas Strip, and has for the past 18 years, according to Boder.

For his performance Saturday evening, Osborne will be playing alongside bassist Denny DeMorales and drummer and vocalist Paul Stubblefield. They plan to perform songs from popular singers such as Frank Sinatra, Barry Manilow, Elton John, Billy John and even some selections from Phantom of the Opera.

To view these performances, people can choose to pay for an individual show or a season. Lindboe said season packages also get members into the Southern Indiana Live on Stage and the Southeastern Illinois Concert Association performances. The Southern Indiana Live on Stage is located at the Bedford-North Lawrence Performing Arts Center, 595 Stars Blvd., Bedford. The Southeastern Illinois Concert Association’s shows are at Olney Central College Theater, 305 N. West St., Olney.

Lindboe said season-ticket holders can also use any tickets they didn’t use at a previous show for a future show, but it has to be within the same season.

Boder said those who attend the concert on Saturday should expect professionalism from a very excellent pianist.

“If they enjoy good music by an excellent pianist, then this is one they should come to,” Boder said.

Lindboe said people should come to this show because of his credibility with multiple previous presidents wanting to hear from him.

“All of these presidents have thought that this guy is excellent,” Lindboe said. “This is your opportunity to see the same thing; this is the person these people like, so come and see what it’s like. Come and see why they like him. They’re going to like it.”

Single show tickets are $30 for adults and $15 for students. Season packages are $50 for adults, $15 for students and $95 for a family of two adults and children under 18 years of age. For more information on purchasing a season package or purchasing a single show ticket or to find out more information on the concert association, visit concertassociation.net/MartinsvilleIN.

Chief Allen starts retirement, retained as chief

(Originally posted on the MD Times’ website on September 9, 2017)

The Mooresville Metropolitan Police Commission and the Mooresville Town Council approved Thursday at their respective meetings to retain chief of police Richard Allen after he starts retirement.

Both the police commission and town council held special sessions on Thursday.

At the police commission meeting, Allen said he will officially retire on Sunday as an employee of the Mooresville Metropolitan Police Department. At that date, he will be entitled to his 1977 police pension fund, as he has paid into the pension for the last 35 years.

The police commission decided they would retain him as chief of police, effective Monday.

According to Charles Braun, the police commission’s attorney, the move is permitted pursuant to Indiana Code 36-8-9-4 and in compliance with IC 36-8-4-6.5 and IC 36-8-4-7, which allow for him to return to his employment while receiving his ‘77 police pension.

Police commission member Brian Wiser made the motion to approve what Braun suggested they do in order to retain Allen while he receives his pension, and the commission approved unanimously.

According to Larry Bryant, police commission president, this saves the town council money, as they do not have to pay the 1977 pension.

Following the police commission meeting, the town council met to approve retaining Allen as chief of police. Bryant presented to the council how it was an unanimous vote to retain him as chief.

Town council vice president Tom Warthen made the motion to retain Allen as chief, member David Rogers seconded the motion and the council approved.

President Mark Mathis recommended that the salary ordinance be amended to where the police officers are paid by the town except for Allen, as he will no longer be a public employee retired fund, or PERF, employee.

The next police commission meeting will be 6 p.m. Sept. 21 in the conference room at the police station, 104 W. Main St. The next town council meeting is 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the government center, 4 E. Harrison St.

Monrovia Festival encourages the arts

(Originally posted on the MD Times’ website on September 8, 2017)

Adults divided into two divisions: amateur and professional. They can submit paintings, portraits, crafts and other artwork.

While the Monrovia Festival is full of different games, food and giveaways, it’s also a chance for children and adults to show their artistic side.

Since 1986, the Monrovia Festival has featured an art show, where children and adults can submit paintings, photography, crafts and other artwork. All entries must have been created within the past three years and cannot have been previously in the show.

This week, artists submitted their work on Tuesday and Wednesday, with tea and placings announced on Thursday evening.

The artwork was open for the public to view on Friday evening, when the festival began, and will be open for viewing today until 8 p.m. Sunday, the artists will have to come back to the building to pick up their submissions.

There are three divisions: students, who range from preschool age to 18, adult amateur and adult professional. The students are broken up into different age groups as well, so they are competing against others around their age. Adults who have been commissioned to do artwork are considered professional.

Three judges looked at the artwork this week and gave placings and participation ribbons to the contestants. The judges are considered professional and have judging and/or artwork experience.

This weekend, festival attendees are able to participate in the “people’s choice awards,” where they can decide who they thought should have won.

The show was started by Alma Smock. In 2004, the festival named the show after her. Although she passed away five years ago, they carry on the tradition, event organizer Donna Edwards said.

“She started this so people in the community had an opportunity to show their art because there are not a lot of opportunities in this area,” Edwards said. “She started it so they could have an opportunity to show their art, see other people’s art and kind of have something compared to what they were doing and it helped them reach further and maybe try to do new things.”

There is a plaque with Smock’s picture and information in honor of her work for the shows. According to the plaque, Smock and her husband, Charles, dedicated their week to “setting up and managing the art show for the people of Monrovia.”

Edwards said the art show is not only important for adults to show their work, but for the youth as well. She said some children have come to the art show and said because of seeing the artwork there, they were encouraged to create art themselves.

“We feel it’s an opportunity for youth who may never have another chance to display their art. It may give them the bug to want to do more,” Edwards said. “Otherwise, they may not have the encouragement they need to keep painting or to keep drawing.”

The festival is open today and will continue until Sunday, with a parade at 3 p.m. beginning at Monrovia High School. For more information on the festival, visit its Facebook Page “Monrovia Festival and Civic Association.”

ISTEP results show progress

(Originally posted on the MD Times’ website on September 8, 2017)

The Indiana Department of Education published the 2017 ISTEP+ results on its website for schools and public to view Wednesday.

Looking at the state as a whole, in grades three through eight, performance “remained stable,” and 10th-graders’ performance “rose slightly,” according to a news release from IDOE Press Secretary Adam Baker. The release also explains how ISTEP+ assesses English/language arts and math in grades three through eight and 10, science in grades four, six and 10 and social studies in grades five and seven.

Mooresville Schools

Among students in grades three through eight at Mooresville schools, 70.5 percent passed the English/language arts section of the test, 68.4 percent passed the math section and 59.6 percent passed both ELA and math. For Mooresville schools’ 10th-graders, 71.7 percent passed ELA, 30.4 percent passed math and 29.3 percent passed both ELA and math. Compared to last year’s ISTEP+ results, Mooresville schools’ scores improved overall.

According to assistant superintendent Holly Frye, the school corporation is seeing a lot of growth and improvement in their students as they move on in their schools from year to year. She said as the state looks to see how a grade level improves each year, Mooresville schools study cohort groups, or how the students do from year to year.

For example, the state would look at how third-graders did in 2017 compared to third-graders in 2016, whereas Mooresville schools like to look at how their fourth-graders did in 2017 compared to when they were third-graders in 2016.

Frye said Mooresville schools’ scores are above the state average, which she called “an encouraging piece of data as well.”

She said one reason they were able to improve was by implementing NWEA again, which students take three times per year to help teachers determine where an individual’s needs are before taking ISTEP+. The school corporation stopped using it about five to six years ago, but decided to bring it back this past school year. Frye said the teachers did a fantastic job using it to address the students’ needs.

In order to keep improving, Frye said they began a new math course for students and will continue to do the units of study — English, language arts and math — for the elementary students.

“We really plan to stay the course,” Frye said. “The biggest piece is monitoring the students’ performance and addressing individual needs throughout the school year.”

Monroe-Gregg Schools

For Monroe-Gregg’s third- through eighth-graders, their scores mainly improved. The IDOE’s results showed that 61.4 percent passed ELA, 54.7 percent passed math and 46 percent passed both portions of the test. While they improved their math and both portions’ scores, their ELA score decreased by 1.3 percentage points.

For the 10th-graders at Monrovia High School, 54.8 percent passed ELA, 20.1 percent passed math and 18.7 percent passed both portions of the test. While the ELA score improved from 2016, the math and both portions’ scores decreased.

At the elementary level, Monrovia Elementary School principal Melissa York said they have a big focus on their third-graders. They want to help them because as part of the transition from second grade, they have to pass ISTEP+ and IREAD.

In order to make a smooth transition, York said they provide literacy groups — United Way’s ReadUP program — to improve reading skills and an enrichment program for their third-graders.

Other practices MES does to help improve ISTEP+ scores include implementing Orton-Gillingham — a program that helps students’ English skills — on-site ELA training for teachers, Project Lead the Way to help students’ improve their problem-solving skills and sending teachers to Central Indiana Education Service Center for professional development.

Last year, a handful of the math teachers were sent to CIESC, and the school plans to send all of them this year.

York said according to Monrovia Middle School Principal Micah Elliott, their students’ scores increased. One of the ways they are helping to improve students’ scores is by having a PRIDE hour, where students who did not pass can receive remediation. MMS also has implemented Accelerated Math and Accelerated Reader, which help improve their math and reading skills.

At Monrovia High School, York said principal Mike Springer wants all of his math teachers to participate in CIESC math workshops, due to their 10th-graders’ passing math scores at 20.1 percent overall. MHS is also offering before- and after-school math remediation for those who need it.

“We’re constantly looking for ways to improve,” York said, adding they want to continue to analyze scores, find holes in instruction and make sure they reflect on the past year each year.

For information on ISTEP+ results, visit doe.in.gov/news/indiana-department-education-releases-spring-2017-istep-results.

Mooresville Schools 2016

Percent of students passing

English/Language Arts Math Both

Grade 3 ELA: 68% Math: 60% Both: 52.7%

Grade 4 ELA: 70.8% Math: 66.4% Both: 58.5%

Grade 5 ELA: 60.3% Math: 71.3% Both: 54.3%

Grade 6 ELA: 75.6% Math: 68.1% Both: 61.6%

Grade 7 ELA: 79.1% Math: 64.9% Both: 61.4%

Grade 8 ELA: 63.7% Math: 64.5% Both: 53.8%

Total for grades 3-8 ELA: 69.5% Math: 65.7% Both: 56.9%

Grade 10 ELA: 64.9% Math: 25.9% Both: 24.1%

Monroe-Gregg Schools 2016

Grade 3 ELA: 71.8% Math: 58.7% Both: 52.3%

Grade 4 ELA: 72.8% Math: 57.8% Both: 52.8%

Grade 5 ELA: 66.7% Math: 66.4% Both: 55%

Grade 6 ELA: 43.1% Math: 44.3% Both: 33.9%

Grade 7 ELA: 65.1% Math: 46.8% Both: 44%

Grade 8 ELA: 60% Math: 45% Both: 38.4%

Total for grades 3-8 ELA: 62.7% Math: 52.7% Both: 45.6%

Grade 10 ELA: 49.6% Math: 31.6% Both: 27.4%

Mooresville Schools 2017

Grade 3 ELA: 71.1% Math: 61% Both: 56.2%

Grade 4 ELA: 66.3% Math: 66.5% Both: 55.6%

Grade 5 ELA: 67.1% Math: 78.7% Both: 63.7%

Grade 6 ELA: 71.2% Math: 72.4% Both: 63%

Grade 7 ELA: 75.4% Math: 59.9% Both: 57.2%

Grade 8 ELA: 71.7% Math: 73.7% Both: 62.6%

Total for grades 3-8 ELA: 70.5% Math: 68.4% Both: 59.6%

Grade 10 ELA: 71.7% Math: 30.4% Both: 29.3%

Monroe-Gregg Schools 2017

Grade 3 ELA: 64.6% Math: 50.4% Both: 41.1%

Grade 4 ELA: 67% Math: 59.6% Both: 53.2%

Grade 5 ELA: 59.1% Math: 66.7% Both: 54%

Grade 6 ELA: 63.7% Math: 71.4% Both: 55.4%

Grade 7 ELA: 57.4% Math: 35.7% Both: 32.6%

Grade 8 ELA: 56% Math: 50% Both: 44%

Total for grades 3-8 ELA: 61.4% Math: 54.7% Both: 46%

Grade 10 ELA: 54.8% Math: 20.1% Both: 18.7%

Stability First plans to host annual red carpet fundraising event

(Originally posted on the MD Times’ website on September 6, 2017)

It’s almost time for the third annual Roll Out with the Red Carpet with Stability First.

The purpose of the event is to raise money for Stability First, an organization helping to alleviate poverty within Morgan County. The organization helps provides housing and/or services geared toward assisting low-income families.

According to its website, there are three areas of work with which Stability First is involved: the Pike Street Bridge, which helps residents with safe, transitional housing as they work to get established; the Lynay Center, which provides services to bring stability to those who are under resourced; and the Magdalene House, a women’s shelter to help with their needs.

The event begins at 5:45 p.m. Sept. 29 and will be held at the Jones Crossing Banquet Center, 5161 E. Allison Road, Camby.

According to Diane Huerkamp, one of the organizers of the event and who is on the fundraising committee of Stability First, this year’s theme is red carpet, as attendees are encouraged to dress as they would for an Oscar-type event, such as in formal, cocktail or business attire.

Once the attendees arrive, they will be able to go into a limo and step out, where there will be “paparazzi” taking their photos and “reporters” interviewing them. Then, they will be escorted via red carpet into the event, where they will come up to a waterfall, where another photo opportunity will be available.

There will also be live jazz music and, following dinner, guest speaker Dr. Charles “Chuck” Dietzen will address the crowd. He is the founder of Timmy Global Health, an organization that sends medical teams to different parts of the world to fight for global health equity. Right now, he serves as the medical director of pediatric rehabilitation at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.

Judy Moore, a member of Stability First’s fundraising committee and the chairwoman of this event, said Dietzen will be an interesting speaker because of all the work he has done for others.

“He just really has a gift with children,” Moore said, as she has been reading his book “Pint-Sized Prophets.”

In addition to Dietzen speaking, Huerkamp said, a former Magdalene House resident will share her story. Moore said she has been able to re-enter society and the workforce, and she credits the Magdalene House for helping her. There will be a video presentation telling her story.

Huerkamp said there will also be other fun activities, including silent and live auctions. Attendees will be able to view the auction items before the dinner and program.

Last year, the event brought in $60,000, which went to the different areas of Stability First. This year, Huerkamp said they are hoping to fill each seat at the center.

“We expect a full house of 200 attendees,” Huerkamp said. “It’s going to be such a fun gala. They’re going to be stars of the evening.”

Huerkamp said for people to attend this event, it is a simple way for them to improve the quality of life for others.

“It’s a way for you to give back to our community directly,” Huerkamp said, adding 100 percent of the funds raised will go to Stability First. “It’s a way to make a difference in someone’s life.”

Tickets are $60 per person and seating is limited. To reserve tickets, visit wedoauctions.net/stabilityfirst.