NEWS AND TRIBUNE
> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
Read stories 7 through 13 in the top stories of 2013 as covered by the News and Tribune in today’s edition. Nos. 1 through 6 will publish in Tuesday’s print edition and at newsandtribune.com. You can also read summaries of other 2013 stories of note on Tuesday. Tell us what you think about the list — or anything you think should have made the ranking — on our Facebook page at facebook.com/newsandtribune
7. St. Mary’s school closes in New Albany
Big budget problems led to the closure of St. Mary’s Catholic Academy after 64 years on Eighth Street in New Albany.
Just days after 2013 began, the Indianapolis Archdiocese suddenly announced the closure of the school to parents and students, citing a $1.2 million deficit that ran since 2005. The school faced declining enrollment for years, though in the 2012-13 school year saw a jump of nearly 30 percent in total enrollment.
But parents with children in the school maintained they knew little, if anything, of the school’s financial woes before the announcement of its closure Jan. 16.
The archdiocese forgave the debt from the school, which officials said would probably strengthen the parish and expand their other charitable operations.
8. New Albany aquatic center approved
New Albany will move ahead with an outdoor aquatic center and multiuse recreational center in 2014 after a $19.6 million bond was approved in 2013 for the projects.
The aquatic center will be located off Daisy Lane at the site of the former Camille Wright Pool, and is expected to open in 2015. The multiuse center will be constructed on the former Hoosier Panel property, and will include a skate park, splash pads and a walking trail along with a gymnasium. Construction will start on the center this spring, and the facility is expected to open in 2014. The bond will also cover improvements to Binford Park and Cannon Acres.
9. Chuck Adams caught on tape, drops out of sheriff’s race
Chuck Adams, a former major and spokesperson with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and candidate for sheriff in the 2014 election, found himself in the middle of a scandal in September when former campaign financier Larry Brooks provided the News and Tribune with evidence that Adams offered him a job at the sheriff’s department in exchange for an increase in contributions if Adams was elected sheriff.
While it was Adams’ dream to be the next Clark County sheriff, Brooks said he wanted to be a reserve officer with the department, which would allow him to play lawman on weekends. But Brooks said Adams offered him more than that: $70,000 per year, no responsibilities and retirement benefits. Brooks, a self-described millionaire and owner of a local trucking company, admitted to considering the offer before deciding it wasn’t right and turning evidence of Adams’ offer to the News and Tribune.
The smoking gun: A recording made by Brooks of a conversation between the two in February 2012, in which Adams explains the benefits of a chief deputy position at the sheriff’s office. “That’s half a million dollars for doing nothing,” Adams stated in the recording.
Through a written statement, Adams apologized for his actions and suspended his campaign for sheriff in response to inquiries by the News and Tribune. In addition to ending his campaign for sheriff, Adams retired from his position with the sheriff’s office the following month.
10. Clarksville breaks ground on New Tech High School
Even after delays on the part of the town’s redevelopment commission, Clarksville Community Schools broke ground on its New Tech high school in December.
Though the commission’s hesitation on giving the old Value City property along Eastern Boulevard in Clarksville delayed the district’s timeline by two months, Kim Knott, superintendent, still set the terms of the contract with builders to complete the project by the original August 2014 completion date.
The school — which will put its focus on learning through problem-based projects — will be one of just a handful in the state, with the nearest dedicated building in Columbus.
11. ISTEP+ delays cause headaches
Computer problems at the state level caused many students difficulties while trying to take their mandated state assessment, ISTEP+, ultimately delaying the release of the test results for months.
Students had issues logging in to take the second phase of the test in April, as well as random system kick-offs in the middle of the test. District officials said this caused frustration among students, which may have affected how they scored.
Though local districts reported nearly 6,000 students with issues during testing, the state only confirmed about 1,800 such instances in public school districts in Clark and Floyd counties.
Even after the results were finally released and determined valid by a statewide study, most district officials in both counties had their reservations about the accuracy of the scores and whether they truly represented the performance of the schools.
New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. led area districts with 78.1 percent of students — those in grades three through eight — passing both the English and math portions of the test, although that number was down 0.8 percent from 2012. Clarksville Community Schools showed the largest gain, at 1.3 percentage points, of students passing both parts.
12. Clarksville city-town debate; Sellersburg goes to districtwide voting
Though it’s one of the top News and Tribune stories of 2013, the story of Clarksville’s flirtation with hiring a town manager began in 2012, when the council was in the midst of a debate over whether or not the town’s voting structure should be changed. Proponents for change wanted — and still want — to change elections so that only voters within a council district can vote in the race for its representative, while their opponents prefer to have all voters in Clarksville vote in all seven council races. Councilman Bob Polston abstained from a vote on the matter, which kept the status quo in place.
But Polston took it a step further, calling for a committee to be formed to examine whether Clarksville should remain a town or become a city. The committee met several times between late-2012 and mid-2013, eventually announcing its findings at a public meeting. The verdict: remain a town, but hire a town manager.
The council unanimously voted to adopt the committee’s recommendations, which included forming a search committee to name Clarksville’s first town manager. But it didn’t take long before problems started to become apparent, with Councilman Bob Popp accusing Councilman Paul Fetter of trying to load the search committee with Republicans (even though it wasn’t). Soon after that, Polston, Don Tetley and Paul Kraft joined Popp in disbanding the town manager search committee and putting an end to any change to the town’s government.
In December, The Sellersburg Town Council did what some in Clarksville want to see and unanimously voted to change the town’s voting structure. Instead of voting in all five council races, Sellersburg voters will vote in the race for their own district representative and one At-large council member.
13. Jeffersonville to revamp Ohio River marina
The on again-off again, $2.2 million Jeffersonville Marina project finally secured its financing from the Jeffersonville City Council in December.
Jeffersonville’s City Council, which had previously voted down Mayor Mike Moore’s proposal to revamp the marina on the Ohio River along Riverside Drive, approved the plan after seeing official drawings late in the year. The approval was granted after the city terminated leases with the boat owners still moored at the docks, which were previously promised they could stay during construction. However, the city said the docks were a public safety hazard, but the deadline for the boat owners to move out was extended to Jan. 1 from its original date of Nov. 30. The approved plan calls for 54 individual fixed boat docks, a 200-foot floating fishing pier and a raise in rates for boats mooring in the marina.
Funding was dedicated out of two of the city’s Tax Increment Finance districts and construction is expected to begin once the city receives permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, expected early in 2014.