Sirens ‘n’ Side Hustles

Zach Schepers, left, and Zach Eichmiller, both of Dubois, place freshly-potted mums in the field at Eichmiller Landscaping in Dubois on June 7. Schepers and Eichmiller also work together at Memorial Hospital Emergency Medical Services, where Schepers is an EMT and Eichmiller is a paramedic.

Story by Bill Powell
Photos by Sarah Ann Jump

The U.S. Department of Labor puts the multiple jobholding rate — the percentage of all workers holding down more than one job at the same time — at 4.9 percent.

Quadruple that rate for cops, paramedics and others in emergency services.

Like everyone else, their moonlighting brings in extra income. But it also keeps highly motivated individuals engaged during off-duty stretches that follow customary 12- and 24-hour shifts.

“The way our schedule is, we always have days off in the middle of the week,” explains Dubois County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Brad Kendall, who moonlights delivering ice for Jasper’s Celebration Ice. “When you have days off like that, it’s better than just sitting around not doing anything.”

Fellow deputy John Anderson, the sheriff’s department’s narcotics officer, moonlights teaching a criminal justice class at Forest Park Junior-Senior High School. Anderson remembers when he started in law enforcement as a Dubois County jailer in 1993, more than 90 percent of the jailers moonlighted.

 

Harvest moonlighters

Zach Schepers, 23, Dubois, an EMT with Memorial Hospital Emergency Medical Services, quit side jobs with a meat packer and a catering business so he could moonlight at Eichmiller Landscaping in Dubois.

“I can’t sit at home doing nothing,” Schepers says from the seat of a tractor at the landscaping business on County Road 720E, near the Dubois-Patoka Lake Access Road.

Schepers’ boss, 37-year-old Zach Eichmiller, is also no stranger to holding down multiple jobs and wearing the Memorial EMS uniform.

In addition to being a landscaper with a serious green thumb — he just delivered 13,000 mums his operation raised —  Eichmiller is both a Memorial EMS paramedic and a firefighter with and the spokesman for the Dubois Volunteer Fire Department.

“I’m involved in way more than I should be,” Eichmiller says with a laugh.

With two brothers in the fire service, Eichmiller became an original member of the Lost River Volunteer Fire Department near his Martin County birthplace before coming to the Dubois fire department 15 years ago. During the past nine years, he trained to become an EMT and eventually moved up to paramedic status.

Eichmiller waters freshly-potted mums at Eichmiller Landscaping in Dubois on June 7.

Eichmiller’s father, Harold Eichmiller, farms at an old Martin County homeplace 5 miles north of the Dubois Crossroads, and for more than 20 years, the family has operated a roadside market that this time of year sells pumpkins, squash and gourds.

“I was always into growing something,” Eichmiller says, adding that he attended Vincennes University to study horticulture. “I’ve grown pumpkins since I was 12 years old. The ground is good down there for what we do.”

His past job titles include supermarket produce manager, which is how he met a woman who grew mums for area school fundraisers. Last year, she offered to turn that business venture over to Eichmiller. With the help of Schepers, his wife, Jami, 11-year-old twin daughters Ashtyn and Akayla and the assistance of family and friends like Dubois Fire Chief Steve Kalb, 10,000 mums were successfully raised. This year, the number swelled to 13,000.

When it’s not mum season, Eichmiller designs and creates landscaping features, with some lawn-spraying and mowing thrown in on the side. He and Schepers stay busy setting boulders, installing mounds and spreading mulch.

The landscaping venture has grown to full-time status.

“It’s almost reversed now,” Eichmiller says. “It’s like this paramedic thing is my moonlighting thing.”

 

Ice Man cometh

Dubois County Clerk of the Courts Bridgette Jarboe has known 41-year-old Brad Kendall as a county sheriff’s deputy for two decades. When she spies him moving a barricade Aug. 1 in downtown Jasper to allow an ice truck into the Bier Garten area for that weekend’s Strassenfest, she hollers, “Good job, Barney!” in a nod to Deputy Barney Fife from the Andy Griffith Show.

But Kendall is not wearing sheriff’s department brown this day. His shirt is blue, for Celebration Ice, an ice distribution business headquartered on Clay Street in Jasper.

Kendall and Celebration Ice owner Mark Seibert had already delivered 5 tons of ice that day before arriving in the downtown district to stock up stands for the next day’s Strassenfest. Those earlier deliveries included 500 10-pound bags delivered to the Patoka Lake Marina.

“The guys I work with are pretty cool and you get to meet a lot of nice people,” Kendall says of his latest moonlighting gig.

He describes his job as “ice chucker.”

“I even got a shirt,” he says. “Snap!”

Dubois County Sheriff’s Deputy Brad Kendall, left, and Celebration Ice owner Mark Seibert deliver ice to food vendors in preparation for the Strassenfest on Aug. 1.

Kendall joined the sheriff’s department in 2000, and has always moonlighted during his 18 years.

In fact, in addition to Celebration Ice, he also does construction and remodeling for sheriff’s department Sgt. Chris Faulkenberg’s side business, Southern Roads Custom Creations.

Some past side jobs Kendall has held include mowing and repossessing cars. His ice chucking and remodeling is a tad better, he says.

“It’s guaranteed money,” Kendall explains. “When you repo and you don’t find the vehicle, you’re not going to get paid. This is more of a steady secondary income.”

He got to know Celebration Ice’s Mark Seibert through their fantasy football league: The Ireland Old Farts.

The work is not easy. A retail ice box can hold between 75 and 200 bags, depending on the size of the box and its mix of 7- and 20-pound bags.

“It’s not just touching it (the bagged ice) once,” Kendall says. “Say it’s 5 tons. You unload it onto carts (from the truck), then wheel it to a box” and toss the bags once more.

Celebration Ice services Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari and Ellis Park, so it keeps Kendall busy.

“If you’re not making money, you’re spending money,” Kendall says. “That’s why I work three jobs.”

 

Classroom cop

Dubois County Sheriff’s Department Narcotics Officer John Anderson shares a story from his personal experience during the criminal justice class he teaches at Forest Park Junior-Senior High School in Ferdinand on Sept. 21. “He’s got a lot of knowledge,” Forest Park senior Kaiyah Wilhite said about her teacher. “He’s got a lot of stories to tell. His stories are personal but really relevant and interesting.” Anderson’s class helped Kaiyah confirm her desire to become a detective.

Dubois County Sheriff’s Department Narcotics Officer John Anderson never saw this one coming. But here he is, moonlighting as a classroom teacher at Forest Park Junior-Senior High School.

As a kid, with no money for college, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps at age 17. He graduated high school, did six years active duty and became a jailer with the Dubois County Sheriff’s Department in 1993. Eighteen years ago, he became a deputy and then, in 2012, he was named the county’s first narcotics officer.

During that 25-year law enforcement career, his side jobs were mostly securityDgigs, with a stint at a liquor store.

“I had to get that one approved,” the 50-year-old officer says.

Last year, he learned the Patoka Valley and Perry County Career and Technical Cooperative was reaching out to law enforcement, looking for someone to teach a yearlong criminal justice class at Forest Park.

The career co-op offers vocational classes to high school students in all four Dubois County school districts as well as North Spencer, Pike County, Perry County and East Gibson corporations.

Anderson knew the post was going to be hard to fill.

“It was either going to have to be somebody on night shift or somebody with a schedule that was flexible enough that they could do the one hour in the morning,” Anderson says.

His schedule is one of the things that got him in the door. Anderson has the flexibility to decide how he works his required hours, and the confidential informants texting him generally sleep late.

“When we interviewed him, I knew he was going to be the person for the job,” says Jarred Howard, the educational cooperative’s Director. “He’s just an interesting person to have a conversation with. He’s got some interesting stories, that’s for sure.”

Anderson obtained a Career Specialist Permit from the Indiana Department of Education, and the sheriff’s department helps make it all work by allowing him to sign on duty after his first-period class.

His inaugural class last year included several senior boys from Southridge and 16 Forest Park students. And Anderson admits to being nervous the first day.

“I was stressing more about that job than my real job,” he says. “You don’t want to disappoint the kids, you know?”

His class was so popular that, going into this school year, Forest Park students — they got first dibs — filled every available seat. Twenty of his current 28 students are girls — and 12 of those are sophomores.

“I’ve had nothing but great feedback from students who have taken the class,” Howard says. “He has done a fantastic job. He’s had a lot of success at building a program there.”

It is also a perk to have building security boosted each day, “especially in the morning, first thing as students arrive,” says Southeast Dubois School Corporation Superintendent Rick Allen.

“Some of them had never been around a cop, and all they knew was what they saw on TV,” Anderson says.

Anderson shares a story from his personal experience during the criminal justice class he teaches at Forest Park Junior-Senior High School in Ferdinand on Sept. 21.

He shares firsthand knowledge about Indiana law, the local criminal justice system and what is occurring in Dubois County.

“I just try to be as real with them about it as I can,” he says.

In addition to a classroom textbook, his special guests include jailers, community corrections center staff, judges, conservation officers, K-9 officers, prosecutors and probation officers.

“Law enforcement can be everything from working in community corrections to being a judge,” Anderson says. “There are a lot of things between there. It depends on what you enjoy. So I try to give them this wide exposure.”

Whenever someone in law enforcement is heard signing onto duty and telling dispatchers they will be on a special detail at Forest Park, it usually refers to giving a presentation in Anderson’s class. No one has told him no, Anderson says.

“Everybody comes and wants to do it because they want to have a positive impact on students,” Anderson says. “You don’t get to be around kids that much. Generally, when you are, you’re at their house and they’re upset because something is happening with Mom and Dad.”

Anderson’s field trips expose students to emergency vehicle operations at the Huntingburg Airport, firearms training simulators in the basement of the security center and open court at the Dubois County Courthouse. He walks students through mock traffic stops in the classroom, and gives stun gun demonstrations with the help of other teachers and cops.

Last year, during the course of two days, he took students to the Ranger track and ran them through the actual physical fitness test given at the Indiana Law Enforcement Training Academy.

“I try to make it interesting,” he says. “I enjoy it. A lot.”




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