Our year in review: A look back at ’19 in Jackson County


This year was filled with plenty of big stories, some good and some not so good.

Here’s a look at some of the stories of the year.

Police-action shooting death in Brownstown

[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery

On April 3, Brownstown Police Chief Tom Hanner and Assistant Chief Joe Kelly were involved in a domestic disturbance outside the police station on South Poplar Street that led to a 53-year-old man being shot to death.

Hanner and Kelly were placed on administrative leave after the incident that led to the death of Barry Alan Rucker of Brownstown. Police said they shot Rucker after he pulled a small handgun while resisting arrest during a domestic disturbance outside the police station.

The incident that led to Rucker’s death started when a woman dropped her daughter off at school. Rucker suddenly appeared from the back seat, presented a gun and told her to drive out of town. Instead, she drove to the police station, got out of the truck and ran toward the police station.

An autopsy showed Rucker had methamphetamine and fentanyl in his blood. Police said he and the woman had been in a relationship until late 2018 when he threatened her with a machete. Rucker had appeared for a pretrial conference in the case April 2. He also was on probation for a separate domestic battery charge and had a revocation hearing set for April 4.

In June, Prosecutor Jeff Chalfant cleared the two officers of any wrongdoing, and they later returned to duty. In July, the Brownstown Exchange Club presented the officers with First Responder of the Year awards, and they also received lifesaving awards from the town during an employee luncheon.

Schneck wraps up $44 million project

On the afternoon of May 16, Schneck Medical Center officials unveiled the result of several years of planning and nearly a year and a half of construction at the hospital at 411 W. Tipton St., Seymour.

President and Chief Executive Officer Warren Forgey said shortly before the ribbon-cutting ceremony that the expansion should take care of the needs of the community for several years to come, but that doesn’t mean hospital officials won’t keep an eye on those new needs and stop growing to meet them.

The $44 million project included an 80,000-square-foot, five-story professional building and a 400-vehicle parking garage. The top two floors of the building and the parking garage were scheduled to open June 3. The remaining floors will be finished out as needed.

V-J Day Parade canceled

In July, members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1925 in Seymour voted to cancel the V-J Day Parade. For 73 years, members of the post had organized and carried out the parade to honor local veterans and recognize the United States’ victory over Japan during World War II.

It was thought to be the oldest consecutive V-J Day parade in the country.

At the time, Post Commander Rick Roberts said VFW members met and voted to cancel the parade.

“It wasn’t one person’s decision,” he said. “It was a whole group of us. It’s not a decision they wanted to make but felt it was necessary because of lack of involvement. We really didn’t want to, but we didn’t really have a choice about it.”

Instead of the parade, a V-J Day service was conducted at the post at 311 S. Jackson Park Drive, Seymour.

Changing faces

Come Wednesday, Seymour Mayor Craig Luedeman, a Republican, will not be headed to city hall for the first time in 12 years. Republican Fred Lewis, who spent 28 years paying the city’s bills as clerk-treasurer, won’t be found behind his desk at city hall, either.

The two, who made the decision not to run earlier in the year, will be replaced by Republican Mayor Matt Nicholson and Republican Clerk-Treasurer Darrin Boas, who were elected Nov. 5.

When the Seymour City Council meets for the first time Monday, just two of the seven councilmen are incumbents.

Republicans Drew Storey and Bret Cunningham, both political newcomers, were elected to the two at-large seats, while Matthew Wheeler was elected to District 1, Chad Hubbard to District 3 and Seth Davidson to District 4.

District 5 Councilman David Earley, an independent, and District 2 Councilman Jerry Hackney, a Republican, were the only two councilmen to be re-elected. Earley, first elected in 2011, will be the city’s longest-tenured councilman.

Parking lot murder

The trial of a 61-year-old man accused of gunning down his brother-in-law March 10 in a parking lot of a grocery store on Seymour’s west side is set for 8:30 a.m. Feb. 11 in Jackson Circuit Court.

William E. Baker of Seymour faces a charge of murder in the shooting death of 33-year-old Dustin Payne in a lot at the Jay C Food Store, 1811 W. Tipton St., Seymour.

Payne, who was conscious and talking at the scene, was treated at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour and was in stable condition before being flown to the trauma center at University of Louisville Hospital, where he died.

Police said Baker fatally shot Payne in front of his four children, ages 7 to 12, during a visitation exchange. Baker told police he “didn’t mean to hurt that boy” in an interview following the shooting, according to court documents.

Also, in January, a Seymour woman shot and killed her grandson before turning the gun on herself at the home they shared on the city’s far south side.

Police responding to the report of a person being shot found 68-year-old Wanda J. Huber outside the home she had owned since January 2005 at 1705 S. Walnut St. They also found her grandson, Simon Huber, 15, with a gunshot wound outside, which is across from the entrance to Freeman Field Industrial Park.

Police Chief Bill Abbott said at the time that police believe medical issues played a role in the incident.

Seymour schools facing rising enrollment

Seymour Community School Corp. made enrollment history on the first day of school in August, school officials said.

First day numbers pushed the corporation to 5,008 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

“As a district, we have surpassed the 5,000 student mark for the first time,” Superintendent Brandon Harpe said.

The increase is 125 more students than the corporation had at the end of the 2018-19 school year in May when enrollment stood at 4,883 students. The continued growth is a good problem to have but leads to challenges in staffing, safety, transportation, technology, class sizes and other logistical issues, Harpe said.

He said it is possible the corporation needed to add instructional assistants to help with larger classes and maybe even additional teachers.

Companies announce expansions

Several companies announced expansion plans this year, including a pet supply company and Jackson County REMC, which is working to deliver high-speed internet services to its customers.

In late November, Pet Supplies Plus received two tax abatements related to the company’s plans to invest a total of $6.5 million in 2020 to purchase new logistical and information technology equipment to increase the number of products it ships from its Seymour facility. The company plans to add 75 new employees and retain its present workforce of 250.

In April, a local manufacturer of boxes and retail displays shared plans to make improvements to its Seymour facility and purchase new equipment to increase production. Touchpoint LLC’s investment of nearly $3 million will create five new jobs and allow the company to retain all of its 66 full-time employees.

Also in April, Alterra, a manufacturer of plastic compounds, announced plans to invest $12,050,000 to expand its business at 2213 Killion Ave. in the Eastside Industrial Park, enabling the company to have 100 million pounds of compounding capacity. With the added capacity, the company estimated it will hire an additional 10 workers, bringing its workforce to 30.

In March, a 45-year-old wholesaler of landscape products to large retailers and mom-and-pop stores received final approval from the county to operate a bark mulch manufacturing facility in Crothersville. Sims Bark Co. plans to initially invest $7 million to $8 million and employ 20 people at the site off of U.S. 31 on County Road 1150E adjacent to Interstate 65 at the Crothersville exit.

In January, the Jackson County Council approved REMC’s request for a $5 million 6,000-square-foot addition to its existing building at 274 E. Base Road, Brownstown. The project is expected to create 30 new jobs.

Several other companies received tax abatements for expansion projects with potential new jobs in the future, including Excel Manufacturing Inc. and Valeo North America.

Some firsts

For the first time, two Jackson County high schools earned berths in the volleyball state finals.

On Nov. 2, Trinity Lutheran High School and Brownstown Central High School won their respective semistates and advanced to the state finals Nov. 9 at Ball State University’s Worthen Arena in Muncie.

The No. 3-ranked Braves beat Bellmont for the Class 3A crown for the first team title in the school’s history, while the No. 1-ranked Cougars fell to 29-4 Cowan in five sets in the Class A final.

Members of the Braves squad, which finished the year with a record of 33-5, are seniors Halle Hehman, Addie Wilkerson, Keeli Darlage and Riley Nuss; juniors Myka Keltz, Jennifer Pence, Kendra McCory and Kayla Guthrie; and sophomores Reagan Nuss, Zoe Stuckwisch, Erin Singleton and Kelsey Wischmeier.

Must see Mellencamp

Hoosier artist Pamela Bliss spent weeks this fall painting a 35-foot mural of Seymour music legend John Mellencamp on the east wall of This Old Guitar Music Store owned by Larry McDonald at 106 W. Second St. in the downtown.

Mellencamp, a well-known painter and member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, signed off on the project and location and added an autograph to the mural. The mural has become a must-see for fans of Mellencamp and others.


A $1 million project to improve and revitalize One Chamber Square in downtown Seymour got underway in mid-December.

Schutte Excavating of Greensburg is the general contractor for the project, which is scheduled to be completed by May 2020.

It’s just one of several projects expected be completed in the coming years that will benefit the city and county by helping attract new businesses and investors to the area.

Others include the $20 million-plus Burkart South Bypass and a $15.5 million project to reconstruct 1.25 miles of U.S. 50 from Agrico Lane to U.S. 31. That project also will include the addition of the city-sponsored multiuse pedestrian path.

No posts to display