IWA event touts county’s success

Local community leaders, elected officials, high school students and other residents met Wednesday at the Crawfordsville Country Club for the fourth annual Indiana West Advantage Dinner.

IWA Director Kristin Clary said the evening would celebrate Montgomery County.

Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton gave a presentation on the city’s recent Stellar designation.

“Crawfordsville is stellar,” Barton said. “It is important not because we beat out other communities, but rather because we have a great community. Stellar gives us the resources to push us over the edge to have an even greater city.”

Barton said the reorganization of the local economic development group has improved the community, and officials are getting a higher level of interest in the community than ever before.

“Crawfordsville is going to look different in just a few years,” Barton said. “I am happy with the progress we have made with Indiana West Advantage.”

IWA outgoing president Jeff Birk spoke about the organization’s accomplishments in 2015.

Birk said there are industrial companies looking at the county, and that Crawfordsville remains in the running for those new companies.

Birk also cited ongoing plans to develop additional water and sewage services to the area near the intersection of State Road 32 West and I-74 as a victory for future development in that area.

Keynote speaker was Rob Shook, vice president of the National Association of Wabash Men and Manager of Industry Solutions of the IBM Corporation.

Shook spoke about connecting, collaborating and creating in regards to workforce development and retaining young workers.

“You may not agree on all the issues, but I tell you, you are strong when you work together,” Shook said. “Start small and grow.”

Shook also said making Crawfordsville more attractive will help every community around it.

Creativity to reach a thriving community is important. Shook said a community needs talent, tolerance and technology to attract a creative class of people.

“For people to make this community thrive, you have to engage with the people who call it home,” Shook said.

Preschool students spend day on farm

DARLINGTON — With a partial corn crop still waiting to be harvested, Darlington area farmer Gayle Lough took time off to do something he believes is extremely important. Lough, and his wife Debbie, welcomed 18 students and parents from Discovery Preschool to their farm.

“I think it is important we teach kids something about farming,” Lough said. “I asked the kids how many lived on a farm and only one raised his hand. Things are just different than they were when I was a kid.”

Montgomery County Purdue Extension Educator Monica Nagele took part in the event. She gave a quick lesson on food and other agricultural byproducts to the three- to five-year olds.

“I talked about how food gets to our plates and some other everyday products that they could relate to,” Nagele said. “They were surprised to find out even make-up comes from farm products.”

Lough took students on a wagon ride through one of his fields. He also showed them several types of tractors, trucks and combines. Some students got to participate in a corn shucking contest.

At the end of the event, Gayle and Debbie gave each students a gift bag. Inside the bag was an ear of corn, pen, pad of paper and a sticker.

“I think the kids enjoyed it,” Lough said. “I know we enjoy having them out.”

Lough has been hosting youth to his farm for several years. He believes it is a way to give back to the community and educated children about agriculture.

“With less kids today living on farms, we have generations of kids who have no idea where food or other things come from,” Lough said. “We just really hope that this day can help them understand and remember what farming provides.”

Lough had some help with the farm visit. Representatives from Becks Seeds, AgriGold, Montgomery County Purdue Extension and some of Lough’s neighbors all took part in the visit.

Discovery Preschool Director Lisa Long thanked the Lough family for a day on the farm and she made sure each student thanked the family too.

“This was a beautiful and perfect day to be on a farm,” Long said. “The kids loved it and they were excited about seeing all the things on a farm. It was a good day for all of us.”

‘The Pride Continues’

For the faculty, staff and students of the new school, the pride indeed continues, only now in a beautiful state-of-the-art facility. 

The fully completed CMS boasts a large-group instruction room, two gymnasiums, band and choir facilities, a large wrestling room, a fitness room and a several administrative offices to go along with an academic classroom area and media center which opened a year ago.

As the slogan suggests, the faculty, staff and students of the former Tuttle Middle School always took pride in the tradition of quality education that was taking place inside the building. Now they have a showcase facility to match.

“When we started this project, our goal was to create a facility that was as special on the outside as the teachers and programs were on the inside,” said Scott Bowling,

Superintendent of Crawfordsville Community Schools. “Now we have the spaces and technology to accommodate our talented and creative staff as they continue to develop and refine middle school education.”

Crawfordsville Middle School Principal, Jay Strickland, said, “I expected it would be a high class facility, but the final product certainly exceeds my wildest dreams and expectations. It gives our CMS team something to be proud of, and the building finally matches all of the great things taking place inside.”

Just inside the main entrance, visitors are greeted with the words “Crawfordsville Middle School Athenians” encircling an impressive Athenian logo engrained in the beautiful blue, gold and gray terrazzo floor. A few steps beyond the logo is a display case containing memorabilia that ties together the old Tuttle, the new CMS and the city of Crawfordsville, “The Athens of Indiana.” In fact, the colors blue and gold as well as the Athenian logo are prevalent throughout the building. 

“CMS is a proud, committed and dedicated staff and students,” Strickland said. “We have established a team culture here that is proud to be Athenians and support the gold and blue. Our staff and students were adamant that the new building contain the gold and blue and many Athenian related items throughout the halls and gyms ... We want people from other schools to come in and realize they have truly entered Athenian Country.” 

Bowling believes school spirit is an important aspect in creating an outstanding learning environment for the students. 

“We want to provide students with an excellent middle school experience, and school spirit plays a big role in making CMS a fun and memorable experience for our kids,” he said.

Most importantly, however, are the educational improvements that students now enjoy in the new building that were lacking in the old Tuttle. As Bowling pointed out, students are now able to learn in an environment that is free from the distractions caused by maintenance issues in the old building. Students in the new CMS are no longer bothered by leaky roofs, loud antiquated HVAC systems or busted water pipes that flooded the floors. 

“Improvements in the new facility include state-of-the-art technology in all classrooms, a modern and inviting media center, wonderfully designed spaces for art and music and additional space for physical education.” Bowling said “I think the school’s design conveys a sense of pride in our school community.”

All of this, however, is not to say that the pride and tradition of Joseph F. Tuttle Middle School have been forgotten. In fact a special effort is ongoing to keep the memory and tradition of Tuttle alive in the new CMS. Besides the items in the display case, several items from the old school have been brought over to promote and highlight the history of TMS, and more memorabilia such as the center section of the old gym, will soon be on display. Also, the CMS Library is named after Joseph F. Tuttle, and other spaces in the building are to be named after him as well.

One of the most important decisions the Crawfordsville School System had to make early on was site selection for the new CMS. The board had to choose between purchasing land and moving off-site or building on the site where, first, Tuttle Elementary, and then, Tuttle Middle School stood dating back to the early 1900s. By choosing the latter, Bowling believes the decision to keep the building right where it is in the center of town was the right one. 

“In doing so, the board avoided the creation of a large, empty, deteriorating structure in the middle of Crawfordsville and created an outstanding school building in its place,” he said.

Another individual who is pleased with the decision to build on the current site is Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton. 

“I feel it is critical that schools be a part of the community,” Barton said. “This location promotes the type of community interaction that is much needed.” 

Barton added that many middle school students walk or ride their bikes to school which would be near impossible if the school was located on the outskirts of town. Barton also agreed with Bowling that the community would have suffered from an empty, abandoned building in the heart of the community. 

“That could have been especially problematic and could have created a difficult challenge for us to overcome. How would the site have been used?” Barton said.

One of the spin-offs of the new CMS is the positive effect it will have on the town itself. Barton is currently working hard to find ways for the community to retain professionals and to attract young people. 

“The new middle school is an important piece of our overall effort to create a community in which people want to live,” Barton said. “Of course, quality schools are critical to both of these target groups.” 

Barton admitted that prior to the new CMS many people couldn’t look past the old building itself to realize the high quality educated that was being provided within the building. 

“CMS is also very valuable in our efforts to attract new employers to the community,” Barton said. “We can now proudly show that our community is looking to the future. I also believe the new

facility will, in time, become a well-utilized gathering place for community events. Our high school is utilized for many different types of events and the new middle school will as well. It will be especially because of its location in the heart of the city.”

Barton added, “The new middle school represents the pride we, as a community, take in our future. It is a significant investment in ensuring that our future is strong.”

Bowling and Strickland agreed with Barton. 

“With our old building, parents new to the community would sometimes question me about the building when they were deciding on schools for their children,” Bowling said. “Now, there should be no question that our middle school facility is an asset that will help draw people to Crawfordsville.”

Strickland said the new facility gives the community another nice building and landmark. 

“We have always had a beautiful high school and elementary schools,” Strickland said. “This building fits right in with that group and clearly represents the importance our community places on education.”

Kathy Steele, who was school superintendent when the project started, concurred that the new building is a definite plus for the community and expressed her appreciation for the support the people gave to the building project. 

Steele said that when the community was asked to vote on the referendum to allocate funds for the new school, the community had one of the highest positive percentages in the state. She added that a key reason for the successful vote was the work of the Political Action Committee lead by Thomas Milligan and David Long. The committee worked diligently with TMS staff members and the Crawfordsville School Board to inform the community why the new building was necessary and to educate people that the building project would not increase taxes since Crawfordsville High School would be coming off the tax rate.

“As the former superintendent, it is exciting to see this magnificent building in the heart of our school district,” Steele said. “I can attest to the need for this new facility and feel very fortunate to live in a community that values education. The new Crawfordsville Middle School reflects the sincere interest  and support that community members have for education in our community.”

Of course the main focus within any school, old or new, are the students. 

“I have not talked to one student who has not thought the new building is awesome,” Strickland said. “They appreciate the added space and beauty and work hard to keep it clean and maintained.”

Bowling added that all of the planning for the new facility had the students in mind. 

“To see them respond to their new school positively is very rewarding,” he said.

Steele said that CMS was designed to meet the needs of active middle school students. 

“Every teacher had input on what was necessary to educate current and future students,” she said. “Special emphasis was placed on safety, technology, physical education and the arts to make sure that the facility would support the development of healthy, well-rounded students.”

The new school seems to be the last piece of the puzzle in giving the community updated facilities for its students. 

“We now have outstanding facilities for our students at every grade level, and we have a plan in place for each building that will keep them up to date for decades,” Bowling said.

The Crawfordsville School Corporation and the city of Crawfordsville will proudly put its new facility on display at a CMS Community Open House at 5 p.m. Nov. 16. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Red Ribbon Week kicks off

Red Ribbon Week kicked off Tuesday at the Boys & Girls Club of Montgomery County with the Drug Free Coalition Community Leader’s Breakfast. 

Crawfordsville Pride presented a preview of its drug-free message program which will be presented to Montgomery County schools next week.

Sonya Carrico, Substance Abuse Services Division Director for the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, complimented the students in Pride for their efforts to curb drug abuse.

“What you are doing is important in fighting drug use and abuse in your county,” Carrico said.

Carrico urged those in attendance to continue the fight as long as it is needed.

“Defeat resistance with persistence,” Carrico said. “Never accept defeat and never give up.”

Montgomery County Drug Free Coalition President Amy Clark explained the goals of her group.

“We want to see a healthy Montgomery County,” she said. “We want the county to be free of alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse.”

Montgomery County Youth Service Bureau Karen Branch welcomed the attendees which included school administrators, local law enforcement officers, judges and elected officials. 

“We are here to celebrate the beginning of Red Ribbon Week,” Branch said. “It is our goal to have a county completely free from drug abuse.”

Crawfordsville Pride presented skits that encouraged good choices. Their skits carried themes of caring and helping students that are carrying problems that could lead to tragic endings. Some of the skits took on bullying, making right choices and reiterating a drug free life can be exciting and fulfilling.

The group is made up of students from Crawfordsville High School, North Montgomery High School, Northridge Middle School, Crawfordsville Middle School, Southmont High School and Southmont Junior High. Beginning next week the group will travel around Montgomery County presenting their program to preschools, elementary and middle school students.

Patton family grateful for community support

Kidney disease doesn’t make headlines often, and that concerns Denise Patton.

“It really is more of a public health crisis than most people realize,” the Crawfordsville woman said. 

Denise and her husband Mark should know. They lost their son Mason on March 14, 2014, to a hereditary kidney disease. The 38-year-old died as a result of surgery complications stemming from Alport syndrome. Denise also was her late father’s dialysis partner.

Kidney disease kills more than 90,000 Americans every year, which accounts for more deaths than prostate and breast cancer combined. By the end of 2014, approximately 40,000 women will have died from breast cancer, while 29,480 men will have died from prostate cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. The survival rates for breast cancer and prostate cancer patients are promising.

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 26 million American suffer from some type of kidney disease, and most people are unaware that they are even at risk.

“It really comes down to awareness and education,” Patton said. “It’s about reaching more people, getting the word out about this disease.”

Each year, for the past four years, the Patton family and a host of friends have

participated in the National Kidney Walk in Indianapolis. They walk under the banner of Team Mason. They did so again this past June and raised $13,185. 

“We fell short of our $20,000 goal, but we remain truly grateful for everything,” Patton said. “It is hard to find the words to express how we feel. We are just so grateful for all of our family and friends who pulled together to raise the money.”

Although, Team Mason fell short of its goal, Patton remains optimistic.

 “There’s always next year,” she said.

In the meantime, she and other Team Mason members won’t stop raising donations and awareness. Patton is actively recruiting volunteers to the cause.

“We want help and we are always looking for new fundraising ideas,” she said.

Eventually, she’d like to see individual teams form under the Team Mason banner, and these individual teams led by a team leader who orchestrates additional fundraising activities.

“We just want to continue raising awareness and educating people about this disease,” she said. “Hopefully, we can save lives.”

Patton is optimistic for the future. Mason’s daughter, Stella, and her cousin, Emma Curran, both Crawfordsville Middle School students, are devoted to the cause. Both serve as advocates helping to raise awareness among their peers.

Those who wish to donate to Team Mason may do so at any time throughout the year. Giving does not have to be tied to the national walk or other event. There is a Team Mason account established at Hoosier Heartland State Bank.

To learn more or to get involved with Team Mason, contact Patton’s daughter by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..