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food pantry

  1. 1. ¢ Many businesses, all schools and government offices will be closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving. Many will be closed the day after the holi- day as well. Here’s a list: Thursday and Friday All schools Bureau of Motor Vehicles County clerk’s office Greenfield City Hall Hancock County Senior Services Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen Boys & Girls Clubs of Han- cock County Purdue Extension Hancock County The following will be closed on Thursday only: U.S. Post Office Fortville-Vernon Township Public Library Hancock County Public Library, Greenfield and Sugar Creek locations Best Way, CGS, Fisk and Republic trash service will have no pickup on Thursday. Regular Thursday routes will be run on Friday. Wednesday’s edition of the Daily Reporter will be delivered by carrier. This puts delivery on a schedule typical of Saturdays. Newspapers should be delivered by 8:30 a.m.; if your paper hasn’t ar- rived by then, you can call our customer service department at (800) 435-5601. Calls will be taken until 2 p.m. Wednesday. The Daily Reporter today salutes subscribers Misty Reeves of Greenfield and Lisa Lemons of Greenfield. Have a great day! Have a milestone or an achievement that deserves mention on Page One? Email dr-editorial@greenfieldreporter. com or call (317) 467-6022. Obituaries. . . . . . . . . . . . A3 Opinion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . A4 School . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A5 Lifestyle . . . . . . . . . . . . . A6 Sports . . . . . . . B1-B3, B6 Classified . . . . . . . . . C1-C3 Amusements . . . . . . . . . C4 7 a.m. Clear 29 Noon Sunny 33 3 p.m. Partly cloudy 35 6 p.m. Partly cloudy 31 EXTENDED OUTLOOK A2 Authorities are investigating the death of a man found Monday afternoon in his car at the Super 8 Motel. A hotel employee discovered the body. Jazmine Flores drinks from her bottle as her grandmother, Barbara Blankenship, picks out food with the help of volunteer Jean Smiddy at the Hancock County Food Pantry on Monday. Tom Russo / Daily Reporter Man found dead in car at motel A bounty of hope No signs of foul play; autopsy planned By MARIBETH VAUGHN GREENFIELD — Greenfield officials believe a man found dead in a car in a motel parking lot Monday afternoon died of natural causes. The Greenfield Police Department responded to a call of an unresponsive person in the parking lot of the Super 8 Motel, 2100 N. State St. They found a man slumped over in the driver’s seat of a white sedan; he was pronounced dead at 2:48 p.m., according to a press release from the GPD. Deputy Coroner Rudy Nylund said there were no signs of foul play. The 42-year-old man, who has not yet been publicly identified, was found in his car with the engine running. “There’s no sign of injury or trauma whatsoever,” Nylund said. “He had a cardiac history and also a history of chronic back pain, and he’d been having some back pain. An autopsy will be completed within the next day or two.” Nylund said officials are withholding the man’s name pending family notification. He said a hotel employee discovered the body Monday afternoon. “He went out to his car late evening of the 22nd,” Nylund said. “We don’t know if he had driven away or came back or not. He was a guest at the hotel that night, so we don’t know if he left and he came back, but his car was running and he was slumped inside the car.” Ruling might mean tax hike Long-awaited verdict in fire territory case backs city’s position Cumberland looks to grow eastward once again Town launches second annexation in the past year as it bets on future development By MARIBETH VAUGHN CUMBERLAND — Town officials are eyeing another eastward expansion with an annexation plan totaling 286 acres. Theproposedannexation–thesecond in the past year – would include mostly agricultural land along U.S. 40 from CR 700W to CR 600W, with the Pennsy Trail being the southern boundary. A public hearing on the proposal is slated for Dec. 17, and town planner Christine Owens said she already has met with the 20 or so property owners in the area. “Our long-range plans show the town’s boundary matching its sanitary sewer district for the Cumberland area, which goes up to Mt. Comfort Road up to Interstate 70,” Owens said. “This is just the next phase as we are looking at growth management for the town.” Cumberland’s 20-year master plan SEE GROW, PAGE A7 600W 700W 100 N MuessingSt. 40 PROPOSED ANNEXATION CUMBERLAND By JIM MAYFIELD GREENFIELD — A cold wind didn’t make the line any shorter outside the Hancock County Food Pantry Monday afternoon. It just made it a bit more dense. A full 30 minutes before the pantry doors were scheduled to open, the parking lot was full and the waiting room already crammed shoulder-to- shoulder with members of 44 families. Those queued up outside, some their teeth chattering, waited patiently for their chance to go inside and get food for the week, including for Thanksgiving on Thursday. As a pantry volunteer grabbed a container of peanut butter off the shelf and placed it in Barbara Blankenship’s cart, Blankenship, toting her 8-month- old granddaughter, Jazmine, on her hip, rolled her eyes skyward. “Oh, you don’t know how fast we go through that,” she said. With eight mouths to feed, four of whom are teenagers, it’s a pretty safe bet the Greenfield resident goes through just about everything that looks like food at light speed. Blankenship was one of many people who moved through the aisles Monday: shoppers, helpers and volunteers, it quickly became clear the food pantry is exponentially more about people than the structure and its contents. In a season of thanksgiving celebrated with feasts, food pantry volunteers make sure everyone can have one SEE BOUNTY, PAGE A7 SPELL BOWL A5 Local school teams excel in competition By MARIBETH VAUGHN GREENFIELD — Greenfield and Center Township residents will probably see some sort of increase in their property taxes next year, now that the Indiana Tax Court has reinstated the amount of money the Greenfield Fire Territory is allowed to collect. The Indiana Tax Court ruled in the city’s favor Nov. 19 after a three-year debate over taxation for the department that serves both city and rural residents. While Greenfield officials are rejoicing over the news, it’s unclear how it will affect property tax rates for local residents in 2015 and beyond. It’s been three years since the Greenfield d e p a r t m e n t u n d e r w e n t a special inspection of its budget and tax rates because Center Township residents said their property taxes spiked too high when the territory was formed. Back in 2011, the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance ruled that the territory should not be allowed to collect as much tax money from local residents. The city of Greenfield appealed the decision in Indiana Tax Court in 2012, and last week the court ruled in the city’s favor. SEE RULING, PAGE A7 Cumberland officials are looking to extend town limits for the second time this year. There was little protest from property owners on the first annexation of roughly 182 acres between CRs 800W and 700W. Kyle Lewis / Daily Reporter Tom Russo / Daily Reporter A look at the his- tory of the Greenfield Fire Territory and funding questions over the years ap- pears with this story at fieldreporter. com.
  2. 2. L O C A L N E W S A7 Music Lessons Available On US 40 - 1 Mile East of Highway 9, Greenfield 317-468-0601 Layaway Available thru Christmas Mapex 5 pc. Kit (317) 462-5536 Now through December 7th , 2014 wreaths can be ordered for your Veteran through Stillinger Family Funeral Home for $20.00. On Friday, December 12th we will be placing the wreaths in Hancock County cemeteries to honor all servicemen and women for their selfless sacrifice “Wreaths Across America” © 2014 General Electric Company Pub. No. 1-D824 PC77831 42 Public Square Shelbyville, IN 317-398-6236 SHELBYVILLE HOURS: MON. - THURS. 8 AM-6PM FRIDAY 8AM-7PM SATURDAY 8AM-4PM SUNDAY 12PM-4PM “It almost got to the point where it seemed like we’d never hear back,” said fire Chief James Roberts, who heard of the ruling Thursday and happily told his staff members. Greenfield officials thought back in 2011 that they may have to lay off employees or even close the north side fire station after the slash in funding. That never happened: The city council has since plugged the funding gap by dipping into income tax revenue for the fire territory. Still, Roberts said that was always a Band-aid fix and it was tough to budget every year knowing the state fiscal branch would always slash their levy. The fire territory funding dilemma is complicated; Wednesday’s 14-page ruling from Judge Thomas G. Fisher is also complex. The fire territory formed in 2008 so tax rates weren’t overly imbalanced for city and township residents. But that was also the year statewide property tax reform happened, and city controller Buzz Krohn has said a “perfect storm” of many factors caused the new territory rate to skyrocket. Assessed values dropped, Krohn said, and a law at the time did not allow for new fire territory rates to be phased in over time. Also, the fire department budget increased at the time when it took on the pension and benefits from the city’s general fund budget. As a result, residents that lived in the city began paying 24 cents per $100 assessed valuation, up from 16 cents. Center Township residents saw the biggest increase, from 5 cents per $100 assessed valuation to 24 cents. Rep. Bob Cherry and former state Sen. Beverly Gard heard plenty of complaints from rural residents, many confused or upset with the change in tax rates. That’s why the pair wrote a bill in 2011 that required the DLGF to specifically review Greenfield’s fire territory. “The county rate went up dramatically but the city rate also went up; you would have thought it might have actually come down,” Gard said Friday. After a crowded public hearing, the DLGF ruled in October 2011 that Greenfield’s maximum levy – the amount that can be collected in taxes – should be lowered, causing property tax rates for both city and township residents to go down. City officials immediately appealed, and for the last two years budgeting for the territory has been a headache. Roberts said he was pleased when he got the call from the city’s tax attorney that Greenfield had won the appeal. Still, city officials are still trying to figure out the implications of the ruling. The city will not receive funds it was not allowed to collect over the last two years, Roberts said, but at least starting in 2015 the department can move forward knowing its budget isn’t so tight. “We’re just trying to start from now and move forward to where we should have been all along,” Roberts said. The ruling states that the bill Gard and Cherry wrote is considered special legislation because it singled out one community’s fire department. But the state constitution prohibits such special legislation because the Greenfield Fire Territory is not unique from any other territory in the state. Therefore, the ruling states, the DLGF’s 2011 decision was “invalid.” Cherry and Gard said they were disappointed with the ruling. Gard pointed out state law on when special legislation can be written or not is unclear, and they wrote the bill because they were especially concerned for farmers who were paying a high price for fire protection on land that would probably never need the services. Gard added that ultimately, the state Legislature should reconsider how fire territories affect farmland. “I think this is the only way it’s going to be resolved. Whether they want to tackle that, who knows,” she said. Cherry said they could have written the bill to include fire territories across the state, but no other communities were complaining about the high rates of their territories. “Of course I’m disappointed, but the court made its ruling,” Cherry said. Clerk-Treasurer Larry Breese said it’s unclear how the ruling will affect property tax rates for city and township residents in 2015 and beyond. Rates will go up from what they were in 2013 and 2014, he said, but it’s uncertain by how much. Breese has yet to meet with a representative from the DLGF to discuss the issue. The financial impact of the DLGF’s 2011 decision was obvious over the last three years: More than $1.3 million of the city’s Local Option Income Tax fund was tapped to patch the territory’s funding gaps. Breese said the city will never recoup those costs, but at least from here on out the fire territory can budget with more ease. The city will be able to start using what the levy should have been in 2012, add a time-adjusted growth quotient for 2015 and collect the appropriate tax revenue from there, Breese said. Once the DLGF approves the city budget in early 2015, local residents will be able to tell what kind of financial impact the tax court’s ruling will have on their property tax bills. Continued from Page A1 Ruling calls for further annexations. It’s been just under a year since Cumberland last expanded its boundaries: Roughly 182 acres between CRs 800W and 700W were drawn into the town limits. There was little protest from property owners on that annexation, and one business owner stood up in a public hearing and thanked the town council for the move. This annexation, like the last one, is involuntary, meaning the town is initiating the proceedings, and a formal approval process is in place. Just as several steps are outlined for the town to follow, property owners also have the opportunity to remonstrate against the proposal. Owens said so far property owners have asked questions over how the move will affect their taxes and what the community plans to do with the land. Owens said she is able to give property owners an estimate on how the annexation would affect their taxes based on the additional layer of taxation for Cumberland services. Some will go up, but if their property has already hit the tax cap, Owens said, their bills will be unaffected. As for what Cumberland plans to do with the property, Owens said it will be zoned similarly to how county officials have it zoned. Neighborhood-friendly commercial uses would be designated for the area. According to a fiscal plan on the annexation, the town would actually lose money on the deal over the next five years. That’s because extending sewer lines will be expensive – $300,000 – and the new amount of taxes coming in over five years ($274,000) would not make up for that. Owens said there’s also non-capital costs the town would have to extend to the area – roughly $311,000 over the next five years in general services, such as police protection and road maintenance. While most of the land is agricultural, there are about a dozen homes in the area. One residential site – Eastway Court Apartments – was purposely carved out of the plan, Owens said, because it would not have met the requirement on contiguity based on annexation law since the area is multi- family housing. Joe Siefker, Cumberland Town Council president, said it’s important for Cumberland to grow eastward, because if there’s going to be commercial development in the community, that’s the most likely spot. “We need to start thinking along those lines and moving out in that area, start thinking along Mt. Comfort Road,” Siefker said. And while the community’s master plan calls for more expansion down the road, Owens said it’s hard to tell how quickly or aggressively Cumberland will grow in the future. “Our comprehensive plan is our 20-year horizon plan,” Owens said. “This is the same that was in our plan back in 2000; it may take 20 years to fulfill that, it could take longer.” Continued from Page A1 Grow What: Public hearing on annexation proposal for the town of Cumberland When: 7 p.m. Dec. 17 Where: Cumberland Town Hall Who: Cumberland Town Council will hear from anybody who has an opinion on the plan For more information: contact town manager Andrew Klinger, 894-6203, or planner Christine Owens, 894-6202 IF YOU GO “Oh, Lord,” Blankenship responded to the question of how much the pantry helps. “It’s wonderful. It’s a blessing.” “It’s a big help when you’re homeless,” said 47-year-old Troy Kirk, who was stocking a cart to take back to his tent off the Pennsy Trail where he planned to spend the night in his sleeping bag. Lean with sharp eyes peering out from his knitted watch cap, Kirk is open about a few bad decisions that have now severely limited his options. He’s not complaining, however. “I’ve got a bit of a record,” he said. He might find work elsewhere, but he says he has a son in Greenfield whom he doesn’t want to leave. If his story is accurate, the boy is probably the one bright spot on Kirk’s horizon as winter begins to take hold. Jack Wildey, one of the Monday first-shift volunteers, helped Kirk select food and offered caring counsel. Wildey, a four-year pantry volunteer, said he is sometimes moved to tears at what he sees there – emotions driven equally by the need that comes through the doors and the compassion that it finds there. “These people,” he said, waving a hand toward the numerous volunteers manning counters, pushing carts and otherwise giving assistance, “are some of the most dog-gone dedicated people I’ve ever been around in my life.” Across the aisle, John Owen was handing out the red shopping bags pantry clients use to bag their groceries. He and his wife, Donna, who was checking people in as they enter, celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary Monday. At the pantry. “We were in Columbus (Ohio), and we had to leave to make sure we were able to get here by Monday,” John said. Monday shift leader Nancy Kent said the pantry was stocked well after recently receiving its bi-monthly shipment of food, but that probably won’t last long. “Last week we were out of jelly, pancake mix and pancake syrup, and at the end of December, if this keeps up, we’ll probably be running low on a lot of things, if not completely out,” she said. Last week, the pantry’s six shifts served 194 families, Kent said. Earlier this year, the Monday shift would serve around 30 families, but that number picks up as the weather turns cold. “Now, we’re serving between 45 and 50 families on our shift alone,” she said. Elsewhere, the story was much the same. “We’re doing very well,” said Judy Haase, director of the Knightstown Community Food Pantry. “The people here have been very generous, but we’re seeing a few more people come in this year.” “People are hungry in Indiana all year round,” said Todd Clevenger, director of marketing and communications at Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana in Indianapolis. “But in the winter, some people have a decision to make: whether they’re going to pay the utility bill, put gas in the car or buy food.” Kent said the local numbers are on the rise for this year but are trending generally the same as last year at this point. Clevenger said demand is up in the Indianapolis area. “The lines are longer than they’ve ever been,” he said. Unfortunately, donations are off a bit this year, Clevenger said. Many people believe the economy is getting better and don’t think as much about making contributions. Anecdotal evidence outside his window tells a different story. “The lines are wrapping around the building,” he said. Locally and regionally, food assistance workers laud the “wonderful people” who support them, but the need continues. Kent worries each year that after the holidays people worn and frayed from the season, many shouldering additional bills of their own, will lose sight of the ongoing need for assistance at the pantry. “We depend upon the public to keep the doors open with food and donations to feed these people,” Kent said. And while all pantries need donations of food to help stock the shelves, Clevenger urged supporters not to discount the power of the dollar and a pantry’s buying power. “You can buy a can of green beans for 97 cents,” he said. “(Gleaners) can buy a case of green beans for 97 cents. We can stretch a dollar a long way.” However, no one is going to turn away a free meal. “We need it all,” Clevenger said. Effortlessly packing an infant in a way that shows she’s had plenty of experience with a baby perched on her hip, Blankenship makes sure Jazmine has food for the coming week. Come Christmas she’ll be on the other side of the aisle, volunteering at the pantry, helping others get through a hard time. But it can be hard paying it forward, she said. “Last year a lady came in and got a sugar cream pie, and she just went on and on about it. She didn’t think she’d have a sugar cream pie for Christmas,” Blankenship said. When that particular client then discovered she and her family could have a turkey for Christmas as well, the woman was overcome, Blankenship said. And so was Blankenship. “I had to go in the back and cry,” she said. Continued from Page A1 Bounty greenfieldreporter.comom “Last year a lady came in and got a sugar cream pie, and she just went on and on about it. She didn’t think she’d have a sugar cream pie for Christmas.” Barbara Blankenship, Hancock County Food Pantry volunteer