News From Terre Haute, Indiana


December 31, 2011

TRIBUNE-STAR SERIES: 2011 in review

A four-part series looking at Terre Haute and Vigo County news events from 2011.

• ChemGen growth among Valley’s good economic news

• Many new construction projects started in last year

• The year in public safety and criminal justice

• Education shaped Valley in 2011

ChemGen growth among Valley’s good economic news

By Arthur Foulkes

The year 2011 was short on blockbuster economic headlines in the Wabash Valley, but one positive development that demonstrates growth in size and reach emanates from Terre Haute’s ChemGen, a manufacturer of animal feed enzymes.
ChemGen’s customers — and potential customers — are the world’s poultry producers. ChemGen’s products help animals digest food more efficiently, saving farmers money.
As an example of the company’s global reach, on Friday, a large shipment of its enzymes was set to begin the long journey to the Far East. ChemGen’s products are shipped by road, rail and sea.
“We’ve grown quite a bit,” said Joe Leinberger, plant manager at ChemGen. And the company, with its global sales, expects strong growth in the future.
“We have some pretty aggressive sales goals,” Leinberger said. “We’re pretty optimistic.”
LeRoy Schatz, maintenance manager at ChemGen, said the company buys many of its inputs — materials such as sugar and salt used in the production process — from local businesses, which helps the Wabash Valley’s economy. “We try to keep things in Terre Haute as much as possible,” he said.
ChemGen moved into the former Alpharma fermentation plant on South First Street in 2008. At that time, the company, based in Gaithersburg, Md., expected to hire between 15 and 20 employees. However, the company now employs 24 people, five contractors and 19 regular, full-time workers.
The company, founded in 1985, is on the cutting edge of food production for a growing world population, said Steve Witt from his perspective as president of the Terre Haute Economic Development Corp.
Terre Haute is “perceived as a very business-friendly community,” Witt said. As a result, Witt expects more good economic news in 2012.


Beyond ChemGen, there are rumblings in the distance that could be indicators of good business news to come.
Perhaps the biggest single economic story came at the very end of the year. Economic development officials announced that a still-unidentified company is planning to buy a portion of the former Pfizer property in southern Vigo County. The purchase would include facilities Pfizer constructed to manufacture Exubera, a diabetes medicine.
The name of the company should be announced in early January.
Other business news in 2011 included the opening of a new Holiday Inn Express on U.S. 40/Indiana 46 near Interstate 70.
There was also the launch of construction of a new, three-story office building at 925 Wabash Ave. The building, which is receiving economic incentives from the Terre Haute Department of Redevelopment, will house WTHI-FM and WWVR-FM radio stations and also Old National Insurance.
Later in 2011, WTHI-TV announced plans to move into a new building currently under construction at Eighth and Ohio streets.
“I think those are excellent indicators of the private sector having continued faith in not only the downtown but our economy and community as a whole,” Witt said. While downtown Terre Haute is “definitely on an upswing,” the whole local economy is starting to make steady progress, he said.
Other good news in 2011 included the recent announcement by Southwest Airlines that it is purchasing $4.7 billion in new jet engines, products for which are manufactured by GE Aviation in Terre Haute.
Also, Terre Haute-based Sony DADC made a $72-million investment in new equipment in 2011 and Jadcore added a new production line.
Even Boral Bricks, a southern Vigo County manufacturer, which is still struggling with the housing crisis, had good news for the area this year. Because of the Vigo County plant’s efficiency, Boral expanded its service area and announced plans in November to keep the facility operating year-round.
“I think things are slowly improving,” Witt said.

Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or

Many new construction projects started in last year

By Howard Greninger

Despite a slowed economy, investment in new construction projects was strong in Terre Haute in 2011, as were new city and state road projects.
WTHI-TV began construction on a new two-story, 21,000-square-foot television station at the corner of Eighth and Ohio streets. The project includes erecting a new 199-foot tall relay tower. The $6 million project is slated to be completed in May 2012.
Thompson Thrift Development Inc. started a $5.7 million project to construct a new 33,000-square-foot, three-story building at 9 1/2 Street and Wabash Avenue. It will house radio stations WTHI-FM 99.9 and WWVR-FM 105.5 “The River,” plus Old National Insurance. The radio stations share the May 2012 target completion date with their TV counterparts, all of which are currently housed in the WTHI building at 918 Ohio St. The old WTHI building, constructed in 1906 and first used as a garment factory for Stahl-Urban Co., will be razed after both other buildings are completed.
The Wabash Avenue project includes $750,000 in financing through the city’s downtown Tax Increment Financing district. Of that TIF, $125,000 will be used for new curbs and sidewalks around the new building.
Other building projects in 2011 in or around Terre Haute included:
• Menards Inc. began work on a $12 million distribution center, to add at least 80 new jobs. The 164,000-square-foot project is spread among three buildings, with the warehouse being 81,242 square-feet; a cross dock building at 66,195 square feet; and a 16,622-square-foot fleet shop. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. provided $350,000 toward the project, matched with $75,000 each from the city and Vigo County, for a rail spur to the site.
• Union Associated Physicians Clinic broke ground on a new $22 million, 129,000-square-foot medical office facility that will contain four floors plus a basement. The building, located just west of the Landsbaum Center for Medical Education near Union Hospital, will house 106 exam rooms and 29 procedure rooms. Construction will take 16 to 18 months to complete. The facility is slated for occupancy in June 2013.
• Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is constructing a $17 million, 75,000-square-foot, 240-bed residence hall on the west side of campus. That project is to be open for the 2012-2013 school year.
It is a four-story residence hall, featuring apartment and suite-style housing, for upperclass students who now live off campus because of space limitations. It also will house sophomores on the first floor.
Rose-Hulman has eight residence halls and one apartment-style hall, housing about 1,100 students. The new building will bring that capacity to 1,340 students.
• Mental Health America of Vigo County broke ground on a $5.8 million project that includes a nearly 30,000-square-foot YOUnity Village on North 15th Street in Terre Haute. The 30 single-bedroom apartment complex, to provide housing to homeless and disabled people, is slated to open in September 2012.
• Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field completed a $10 million Indiana Department of Natural Resources-funded underground mine remediation project. That project filled in abandoned mines under a runway. In addition, the airport completed an $11 million repaving project of Runway 5-23.
The airport also started construction on a $1.7 million new airfield electrical vault. That project is slated for completion in spring 2012.
• The city of Terre Haute started a $6.7 million water treatment headworks, which will increase the city’s wastewater treatment capacity by 24 million gallons per day. The city’s sanitary district also undertook a more than $4.6 million project for a new Lost Creek sanitary sewer lift station.
• Construction continued on Sycamore Terrace Apartments, a 178-unit complex on New Margaret Avenue near the eastside Walmart, and tenants began moving in. Ground was broken in the fall of 2010 for the apartments, which are designed to look like individual homes and range from one to three bedrooms up to 1,200 square feet.
• Vigo County had no new construction projects from January to May, but in June, five new apartment buildings were built at Cobblestone Crossings; a new Speedway gasoline station was rebuilt near Honey Creek Middle School; and Fuqua Elementary School added a new gym and is remodeling. That project will be completed in early 2012.
Vigo County residents also saw a lot of road improvements in 2011. The Indiana Department of Transportation resurfaced and replaced decks along Interstate 70 as part of a more than $37 million improvement project.
The construction spanned five counties, including Vigo, from the Indiana/Illinois state line east to Plainfield. Wabash Valley Asphalt of Terre Haute was awarded a $5.39 million contract plus a second $4.3 million contract for bridge work and resurfacing. A third project went to Milestone Contractors of Indianapolis for a $27.9 million patch-and-rehabilitation project from Indiana 59 to two miles west of the Plainfield exit on I-70.
In other road work, the city’s Department of Redevelopment completed a more than $3.3 million project for New Margaret Avenue, which includes the city’s first roundabout, and started work on a more than $3.7 million project to widen Margaret Avenue between Third and Seventh streets. That project is scheduled to be finished in 2012.
The city also spent $1.5 million on new paving throughout the city and $500,000 on sidewalks. In addition, the city spent $465,860 in grant funds on a new Brown Avenue trail and $45,042 of grant funds on the Collett Park Pathway. The Department of Redevelopment also spent $438,270 on a Fifth Avenue project.
In all, projects spanning the city’s sanitary district, Department of Redevelopment and street projects, the city had more than $20.7 million in construction costs in 2011, said city engineer Chuck Ennis.
“We are using some of the old city earmarks, dating back to the [former Mayor Judith] Anderson administration, such as for Margaret Avenue from Third to Seventh streets. We are finally into construction using that money, so that skews that $20 million. We don’t always have that kind of money,” Ennis said.
“It has been a good year for getting projects started and completed,” he said of 2011.
While Vigo County did not have new road construction, the county improved sections along 114 miles of roadway in 2011, costing more than $2.97 million, said Gerald Lindsay, Vigo County highway superintendent. Of that cost, $1.5 million was paid from the county’s Rainy Day fund. That Rainy Day money was used to repave 22.2 miles of county roads, Lindsay said.
Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or

The year in public safety and criminal justice

By Lisa Trigg

Public safety and the criminal justice system recorded many newsmaking events in 2011. Here is a recap of headlines from incidents that stand out in the collective memory of the community.
• The July 11 shooting death of Terre Haute Police Officer Brent D. Long was a tragedy whose impact reverberated throughout the Wabash Valley — and beyond. Long died while working as part of a federal task force attempting to serve a warrant at a residence on North Eighth Street. He was killed in an exchange of gunfire with a suspect wanted on a Sullivan County warrant. Seven people have been indicted on federal charges related to Long’s death, and all seven of those people have pleaded guilty to their charges and now await sentencing. Long’s canine partner, Shadow, was wounded but survived and was later retired.
• A Terre Haute man and two Vigo County women face charges in connection with a double-homicide that occurred in March near Bowling Green in Owen County. Michael Joyner faces two counts of murder, attempted robbery and criminal confinement in a trial now set for June in Owen Circuit Court. Denee Olson and Stefanie Smith face charges of assisting a criminal.
The charges stem from the shooting deaths of Randall W. Bohannon, 54, of Bowling Green, and Brandon H. Hyde, 24, of Terre Haute, at Bohannon’s home on Indiana 46 in rural Owen County.
• Three people died as the result of an early morning fire in March that also injured four other family members. Kayla Lewis, 23, her toddler daughter, Gabrielle Cunningham, and Lewis’ 5-year-old stepbrother, Jeremiah Dupin, all died following the 1:30 a.m. blaze in the 900 block of South Ninth Street. Their deaths prompted an ongoing citywide effort by the Terre Haute Fire Department to make sure all residences are equipped with functioning smoke detectors.
• Five homicides have been investigated by police in the Wabash Valley during 2011.
— Anton Grant was charged with murder and aggravated battery in the April 3 beating of Raymond Hamilton. His trial is set for February.
— Vincent Dates faces a January trial in the shooting death of John Bailey on July 4 in a hotel parking lot in Terre Haute. He was arrested while attempting to leave the city three days later.
— Jeremy Musall faces a felony murder charge in Parke County for the Aug. 13 slaying of Joseph Snow. Musall was captured in Putnam County, following a police pursuit. His trial is tentatively set for early 2012.
— Charles Jarrett was arrested for murder after the Sept. 22 shooting of Kenard Gipson at a house on South Eighth Street. His next court date is in March 2012.
— Andre Moton and Jordan Sneed face charges, including murder and carjacking, after they allegedly ran away Oct. 24 from the Gibault Children’s Services facility just south of the city. Moton and Sneed along with Therlow Pope IV allegedly attacked two motorists before taking a vehicle that later crashed on Third Street, killing Pope. Their trials are now set for April.
• Lindsay Pinegar, accused in the 2009 hit-and-run death of an Otter Creek Middle School student, was sentenced on Dec. 22 to three years of in-home detention and three years of probation with community service. Pinegar pleaded guilty in November to the death of 13-year-old Nathaniel Lawson, who was struck while walking along Park Avenue. Pinegar was not arrested for more than a year after the accident. A tip was reported to police, leading to her arrest and criminal charges.
• A former West Terre Haute man, Kevin Timko, was sentenced in Vigo Superior Court 1 to 60 years in prison after a 12-member jury found him guilty of two class-A felony counts of child molestation, two class-A felony counts of criminal deviate conduct and one class-C felony count of child exploitation for his involvement in making a home video of a molestation that occurred in October 2005. His prison release date is July 2050. Meanwhile, his ex-wife, Dawn Timko, pleaded guilty in March to two counts of child molestation and was sentenced to 30 years in prison through a plea agreement. She has a January 2025 prison release date.
• A 4-year-old Terre Haute boy was allegedly abducted July 27 from his mother’s home, resulting in a cross-country search that ended in the arrest of April Bell and Nick Runyon in eastern Kentucky. The child was recovered unharmed. Bell and Runyon have been indicted on federal charges of kidnapping.
• Three brothers who admitted to their involvement in a Sullivan County ponzi scheme overseen by their father were sentenced to several years in prison through plea agreements. Josh Reeves received a six-year sentence. Chris Reeves received a 12-year sentence, and Chip Reeves received a 24-year sentence. They faced 10 class-C felony charges of security fraud for duping investors out of millions of dollars intended for church construction projects. Their father, Alanar company founder and former pastor Vaughn Reeves Sr., received a 54-year prison sentence in December 2010 following a jury trial.
• A Terre Haute contractor who received more than $80,000 in grant money to do home repairs for seven clients affected by the June 2008 flooding in the Wabash Valley was arrested in February on home improvement fraud charges. The contractor, Lyman M. Roberts Jr., was also charged in March on allegations of forgery involving the checking account of Sons of AmVets Post 222. His cases remain active in Vigo Superior Court 5.

Education shaped Valley in 2011

By Sue Loughlin

The past year brought new leadership, new facilities and national recognition to higher education institutions in Vigo County.
Some also dealt with funding reductions, program cuts and overall pressure to do more, with less.

Indiana State University

ISU and the ISU Foundation continued to act as a catalyst for downtown development with the opening of a new, two-story building at Fifth and Cherry streets that houses the Foundation offices and the Barnes&Noble university bookstore.
Renovation also continued on the former Federal Building at Seventh and Cherry streets, which will house ISU’s Scott College of Business starting in fall of 2012. Once completed, the facility will be used by 1,200 business students and about 60 faculty — bringing many more people downtown.
In a related matter, the university is working with the city of Terre Haute to purchase the nontransit portion of the Cherry Street parking garage. Earlier this month, the State Budget Committee approved the purchase, and on Dec. 16, trustees gave approval for the university to issue $4 million in tax-exempt bonds. The rest of the $4.85 million purchase will be funded using ISU parking system reserves.
The 626-space parking garage is at Cherry and Seventh streets, across from the Federal Building and the southeast entrance to campus.
ISU made progress on its goal of downtown housing for upper-class students, announcing an agreement with Thompson Thrift Development to begin site selection.
The university took another step forward in updating its housing. On Dec. 16,  trustees approved a plan to build ISU’s first new student housing complex in more than 40 years.
The proposed housing, with 352 beds, would be located in what is now a visitors’ pay parking lot north of Hulman Memorial Student Union. ISU is seeking state approval to spend up to $24 million.
The complex is described as small group housing and is intended for organizations such as sororities and fraternities. “It will truly look like individual houses,” said Rex Kendall, ISU director of residential life. “This is something very different for our campus.”
In other highlights:
• In August, trustees gave ISU President Dan Bradley a new, five-year contract that extends through June 30, 2016.
• On Oct. 14, the board of trustees voted to scale back a planned 3.5-percent tuition increase for in-state undergraduates to 1.5 percent. Officials described it as a first step to ensure an ISU education remains affordable and accessible.
President Bradley stated he would seek to limit future increases in student costs to increases in the Consumer Price Index. He also announced plans to form an affordability task force.
• In December, after a yearlong process, ISU announced it had selected eight proposals for a five-year, $5 million program, called “Unbounded Possibilities,” to help the university do more to address community and societal needs.
Among the funded proposals submitted by ISU faculty are a Center for Genomic Advocacy, a Community School of the Arts and an Institute for Community Sustainability.
• The 2011 Washington Monthly College Guide ranked ISU 32nd in the nation among 258 colleges and universities for the level of student community service; ISU had the highest ranking in Indiana in that category.
• ISU boasted athletic successes in several sports, including:
• The men’s basketball team won the Missouri Valley Conference tournament championship for the first time since 2001, earning a trip to the NCAA tournament.
• Football compiled a second straight winning season and was nationally ranked for eight consecutive weeks, a school record. Individual players also have earned several national honors. Sophomore Shakir Bell, who led the nation in rushing and was the Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player of the Year, is a finalist for the Walter Payton Award.
Not all the news was good this year. In May, ISU learned its state operating appropriation would be cut $3.9 million, or 5.4 percent, under the new state budget.
Earlier in the year, ISU already had identified $1.3 million in cuts from noninstructional areas to help balance next year’s budget. Those cuts included elimination of 16 mostly vacant positions as well as cuts to nonpersonnel areas.
ISU also found that its first-year retention rate dropped significantly this fall, and officials are reviewing data to better understand the reasons.
Last year, 63 percent of students returned for their sophomore year, while this year, 58 percent have returned. ISU’s strategic plan set a goal of increasing first-year retention to 74 percent by 2014.

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College

• In February, the college’s trustees announced that acting president Dottie King would no longer be acting — they appointed her as the college’s 16th president. Her installment took place in October.
• Also that month, the college announced  plans to phase out some undergraduate programs and combine several others in a move intended to improve efficiency and strengthen programs central to its mission.
Programs to be eliminated were criminal justice; social science with a history concentration; the instrumental music major; and both the theater major and minor.
Majors to be combined were art and graphic design; English and creative writing; journalism/digital media/professional writing; and marketing and advertising.
n In March, the college announced a “Tuition Promise” campus program effective for 2011-12. The “promise” ensured that tuition for incoming freshmen on-campus students would remain the same for four years. The program aims to keep college costs affordable.
• In October, the college announced the merger of two programs: the Woods External Degree and the newer Woods Online, which was initiated a few years ago as a fully online undergraduate degree program.
• This month, the college announced that it has joined the international initiative, NeXXt Scholars, in which it will provide young women from predominantly Muslim countries opportunities to earn STEM-related (science, technology, engineering, math) undergraduate degrees. The college is partnering with 35 other U.S. women’s colleges in the NeXXt Scholars program, sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

Ivy Tech Community College-Wabash Valley

In May, Ann Valentine was named the new chancellor for Ivy Tech-Wabash Valley region, effective around July 1. She held faculty and administrative positions in higher education for more than 20 years, and most recently had served as president of Minnesota State Community and Technical College.
• In November, the region announced that it had reached an agreement to purchase the former Doughmakers building in the Vigo County Industrial Park for $895,000. The next step was to ask the Ivy Tech Foundation to purchase the facility and lease it back to the school.
Ivy Tech’s goal is to move its nursing programs to the facility by next fall, and new programs under discussion also would locate there in the future. The Doughmakers building will help alleviate current space constraints on the main campus.
Eventually, Ivy Tech hopes to locate proposed agribusiness, diesel technology and animal health programs in the Doughmakers building, including a veterinary technician program.
Moving the nursing programs to the Doughmakers building likely would be temporary, as the region considers long-term plans to move all of its health care programs to a new health science complex in the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative district near Union Hospital.
Ivy Tech will work with other RHIC partners to study a proposed health science education complex that would benefit the other institutions, as well, Valentine said.
Also, Ivy Tech is moving forward with plans to relocate its Martin Luther King Center to the RHIC district in a facility that would be leased from Union Hospital. Valentine expects the move to occur by fall 2012.
• Ivy Tech opened a new instructional site in Sullivan at 2110 N. Hospital Blvd.
Ivy Tech has 30 degree-granting locations throughout the state, including the Terre Haute campus, and classes are offered in more than 75 communities.

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

• In August, Rose-Hulman announced construction of a new, $17 million residence hall on the west side of campus. The 240-bed residence hall will provide space for upperclass students who currently must live off campus because of space limitations. It will be open for the 2012-13 school year.
The residence hall will be the first structure on campus that meets Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver certificate standards, showcasing the college’s new sustainability initiative.
It will give all students who want to live on campus the opportunity to do so. Officials report the building is going up “in record time” on campus, and it was scheduled to be fully enclosed by Christmas.
• For the 13th consecutive year, Rose-Hulman earned distinction as the top undergraduate engineering college in the nation, based on a survey by U.S. News & World Report for its 2012 college guidebook. It tied for No. 1 with Harvey Mudd College.
• In September, the college received a $1.8 million grant from Lilly Endowment to continue the Homework Hotline math and science tutoring service through 2014.
• Rose-Hulman opened a new, 16,200-square-foot Student Innovation Center, which houses its Advanced Transportation Systems program and other student competition teams. Ground was broken during the summer and the building opened in late September.

Harrison College

Next month, Harrison College will launch KnowU, an online, interactive platform that includes three components: learning, support and community.
It will allow students to connect with each other in a social network setting using Facebook, Twitter or Linked-In. It will suggest resources based on a student’s academic, personal and career needs. In addition, it will connect students to 24/7 support based on their preferences and situations.
A KnowU pilot program will begin next month with about 200 to 300 online students statewide. 
By spring, all online students will be on KnowU and by next summer, all Harrison College students (online and residential) will be on KnowU.
Harrison College is an accredited college that has more than 75,000 graduates. It has 11 campuses in Indiana, including one in Terre Haute, and one in Columbus, Ohio, as well as The Chef's Academy in Indiana and North Carolina.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or

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    Wilhelm emerged as a state qualifier in the 500-yard freestyle and 200 freestyle as a junior for Terre Haute South. But his senior season took a different turn and he’s hoping to make a big splash in a new event.

    February 27, 2014 1 Photo 1 Video

  • MET022614beauty trusty.jpg VIDEO: Inner beauty

    Cheers and applause filled the room as 13 smiling women took center stage Wednesday night in Terre Haute to shine a spotlight on the unique beauty each person possesses — inside and out.

    February 27, 2014 4 Photos 1 Video

  • MET022514icerescue sign.jpg VIDEO: First responders train for ice rescues

    The phrase “skating on thin ice” refers to a risky situation, and with good reason. Falling through the thin ice of a frozen lake or pond can be the last thing a person does if a rescue is not quickly made.

    February 26, 2014 3 Photos 1 Video

  • Terry Eldredge with The Grascals 2-21-14 VIDEO: The Grascals have Wabash Valley’s toes tappin’

    Bluegrass fans came from all four corners of the Wabash Valley to see Nashville, Tenn.-based band The Grascals  — and its Vigo County-native member — in concert Friday night in Union Christian Church.
    Jo-Ann Jones of Clinton was “pew dancing” in front of the sold-out crowd.

    February 22, 2014 10 Photos 1 Video

  • MET022014drone church.jpg VIDEO: Eyes in the sky

    Downtown Terre Haute gets demonstration of Pocket Drone and GPS navigation software.

    February 21, 2014 4 Photos 1 Video

  • MET 021814 BEDWELL ROTARY.jpg Video: Navy veteran recounts tale of kayak trip

    Sharing his story is exciting for a Dugger man who made history by becoming the first blind solo kayaker to travel the entire length of the Grand Canyon.

    February 18, 2014 2 Photos 1 Video

  • MET021714spprak note.jpg Video: SPPRAK-ers spread message

    Six-year-old Sunny Santharam knows what kindness is.
    When his father Ram asked him the definition, Sunny quickly responded, “Be nice to everyone!”

    February 18, 2014 5 Photos 1 Video

  • MET021714sethboland.jpg Video: Full-time Eagle Scout

    Seth Boland poses with his Eagle Scout award at the stage extension he built in Ryves Youth Center at Etling Hall. Boland had the help of family, friends and fellow scouts, taking parts of three weekends to build the structure.

    February 17, 2014 2 Photos 1 Video

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    March 12, 2010