The Herald's top stories of 2019

Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Madyson Hurst, 11, of Jasper, left, and Sarah Wagler, 18, of Loogootee, rehearse with the Dance Central Academy Senior Stompers at the DCA studio in Jasper. The seven-member dance team was preparing to audition for the television show "America's Got Talent." The story was one of the top-viewed stories on The Herald website this year.

From Local Sources

A lot has happened in 2019 in and around Dubois County, and the stories that garnered the interest of Herald readers were varied.

From stories about new developments in the county to one about local dancers auditioning for “America’s Got Talent,” the list of top stories has something for everyone.

Herald editors considered website analytics — received nearly 9.5 million pageviews this year — and significance to the community when compiling this year-in-review list, which is in no particular order. Some of the listed items are single stories, and other are more general topics that generated several stories throughout the year.

St. Anthony area murder

Kyle D. Schneider of Huntingburg was sentenced to 85 years in June in the Jan. 11 killing of 23-year-old Chloie E. Lubbehusen. Lubbehusen was found naked, stabbed and bleeding on the porch of a residence in the 5800 block of County Road 650S on Jan. 11. She later succumbed to her wounds. Schneider was located, naked except for a pair of socks, hiding in a garage at the scene on the morning of the incident.

Local dancers headed to AGT

A group of dancers with Dance Central Academy of Performing Arts in Jasper auditioned for a spot on one of the most popular television shows in the country, “America’s Got Talent,” in November in Louisville. The seven-member clogging team, known as the DCA Senior Stompers, won’t know if they’ve advanced for a while.

Business openings, closings

Several national chains either opened or announced plans to open in Dubois County in 2019. Ross Dress for Less opened in March in Jasper’s North Ridge Shopping Center. T.J. Maxx opened in September in Jasper’s Germantown Shopping Center, where Kohl’s will also open in March 2020. Dunkin’ Donuts told The Herald in August that it plans to open a store in the former Orange Leaf location — Orange Leaf closed this year — in Jasper in late 2020 or early 2021.

Jasper saw the opening of places like Pub ‘N’ Grub and Big Olaf.

Also in Jasper, SERVUS! sold its Grandy’s division and the Jasper restaurant closed. SERVUS! also sold Jasper 8 Theatres to Evansville’s North Park Cinemas, which is planning renovations for the eight-screen theater for early 2020.

In 2019, Huntingburg welcomed several new businesses to its downtown, such as Kim’s Koffee and Firefly Boutique. Yard Goat Artisan Ales is also currently in the process of opening a brewery and restaurtant on Huntingburg’s Fourth Street.

Some Dubois County businesses that closed in 2019 include: The Overtime, Libby’s Gourmet Ice Cream, American Family Table Dining and Amish Kountry Lane Bakery.

Memorial-Anthem deal

The negotiations between Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield were a big topic for Herald readers this fall. After months of negotiation, Memorial and Anthem reached an agreement right at deadline in late November to keep the Anthem insurance plans in-network at the local hospital.

Jasper Girl Scout killed

Girl Scout Isabelle Meyer, 11, was killed in June when a tree inexplicably fell on her at the Girl Scouts’ Camp Koch in Cannelton. The Jasper girl was remembered for her faith and her kind and carefree spirit. In October, her fellow Girl Scouts gathered to sort plastic lids that will be turned into memorial benches to honor Isabelle.

Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Wally Sutt of Holland exercises with weights for the first time since his late August surgery to remove rare cancerous tumors from his abdomen at the Tri-County YMCA in Ferdinand. The story was one of the top-viewed stories on The Herald website this year.

Weight loss uncovers rare cancer

After losing the weight, Wally Sutt felt like a new man. Then, everything changed. His dedication to dropping pounds and living a healthier lifestyle led to a grim diagnosis. A rare form of incurable cancer had taken over the inside of his body, and in July, doctors gave him an expected lifespan of between three and 10 years. It’s a revelation the Holland man still struggles with today. But Sutt isn’t shutting down.

Celestine Elementary to close

In a unanimous vote in June, the Northeast Dubois School Board decided to close Celestine Elementary at the end of the 2019-20 school year. Since, the board has decided to reconfigure the corporation’s schools. At the beginning of the next school year, all pre-K through second-grade students will attend classes at what is now Dubois Elementary School. All third- through sixth-graders will study at the current Dubois Middle School. Seventh- through 12th-grade will be housed at Northeast Dubois High School.

The board also voted to rename the three schools. Next school year, they will be Northeast Dubois Elementary School, Northeast Dubois Intermediate School and Northeast Dubois Junior-Senior High School. The high school is undergoing a renovation to accommodate the additional grade levels.

IDEM approves coal-to-diesel

After nearly a year and a half of review, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management approved in June an air permit for Riverview Energy to build a $2.5 billion coal-to-diesel plant in Dale. The plant would be the U.S.’s first direct coal-hydrogenation project, and would use 1.6 million tons of coal to produce 4.8 million barrels of clean diesel and 2.5 million barrels of Naphtha each year.

Two groups concerned about potentially “dangerous air pollution” from the project then filed an appeal to the air quality permit. Earthjustice prepared the appeal on behalf of Southwestern Indiana Citizens for Quality of Life and Valley Watch.

Area developments

Many developments in the area began to take shape in 2019. The Jasper Public Library and Jasper Community Arts Commission broke ground on the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center at 100 Third Ave. in April. The project will unite the two entities under one roof. A Fairfield Inn and Suites also opened this year across Third Avenue from the future cultural center. The hotel is part of the River Centre, a $30 million development slated to open next year that will include apartments and retail space.

In Huntintburg, Fourth Street has been undergoing a transformation. The redesign incorporates part of the Heritage Trail, which is a walking and bicycle path that will ultimately connect the north and south ends of the city.

Fourth Street has on each side a driving lane and sidewalk; a lane situated between the two will be used optionally as a walking lane, parking area or space for outdoor uses by a business. Trees and planter areas are between every three parking spaces. Businesses have the option of using part of the sidewalk or the parking lane in front of their business for enhancements like seating.

In Ferdinand, a veterans memorial opened in May on a strip of land near Pine Drive that is visible from State Road 162. The town has also been adding a trail around the Old Town Lake on Ferdinand’s east side.

Daniel Vasta/The Herald
Bill Pfister of Jasper undergoes dialysis treatment at DaVita Jasper Dialysis in June. Bill had been in search of a kidney for more than a year, and must go through the hemodialysis treatment three times per a week. Bill's story was one of the top-viewed stories on The Herald website this year.

Bill Pfister’s kidney

Bill Pfister’s life hasn’t been the same since a stroke disabled both of his kidneys. The Jasper man was compelled to place an advertisement in The Herald last January, pleading for a donor. Many people came forward, but no one has yet been a perfect match.

Top viewed “For the Record” stories

Police investigate St. Anthony area murder

Police: Accident driver had high BAC

3 charged with child neglect, animal cruelty

Woman faces obstruction of justice in pornography case

1 killed, 3 hurt in Fulda-area collision

Explicit photo exchange results in arrest

Holland woman killed in crash with semi

Police: Battered wife drove into husband

Police arrest man on molesting-related counts

Drug-related items discovered during traffic stop

More on