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Big Freeze
  • Updated

The arctic weather forecast for Jefferson and surrounding counties ended up being about as severe as predicted — freezing rain and snow was followed by temperatures as low as minus-10 — but southern Indiana and northern Kentucky is far better off that what northern Indiana received.

“It’s a whole lot worse up north,” Jefferson County Emergency Management Director Troy Morgan said Friday, just minutes after a statewide briefing on storm. “They’re still getting lake effect snow and blizzard conditions.”

Jefferson County received about 3.25 inches of ice and snow — the light, dry kind that weighs less than a wet snowfall — but that combined with the extreme cold was still enough to cause plenty of problems for those who elected to drive during the storm.

“We had a lot of cars sliding off and getting stuck — dozens and dozens of slide-offs — but only one injury accident and that one was minor.” Morgan said. “We had just short of 200 families without power at the worst part of it Thursday night but by Friday morning that was down to less than a dozen.”

However, by Friday afternoon Duke Energy was reporting four outages in Jefferson County impacting about 353 Duke customers.

Morgan said road crews are working on area roads — plowing a path through the snow and ice — but that the extreme cold likely means that a melt-off could won’t come until after the holiday weekend when families most want to travel. As of Friday morning road conditions were listed as “extremely hazardous” with “unnecessary travel discouraged.”

“We’re not going to see temperatures above 32 degrees until at least Tuesday,” Morgan said. “The roads are covered in snow and it’s probably not going to melt ... wherever you are is currently the best place to be and I wouldn’t recommend any travel ... even if you don’t slide off a road, you could still end up in trouble. Unless your car is in good condition you could easily get in trouble if you had any type of car trouble.”

Morgan said one issue with the light show and wind could be drifting at higher elevations in the county and by Friday afternoon Jefferson County Highway crews were busy clearing drifting snow on Hanover Saluda Road from Holly Hills to Ten Cent Road.

The Salvation Army warming shelter in downtown Madison did not open on Thursday night as the struggle to find volunteers to staff the facility continues, said Madison Mayor Bob Courtney. However, three people were allowed hotel rooms on Thursday night and the shelter planned to be open Friday night.

“We are still working on volunteers for Saturday and Sunday and we will be having extended hours at our comfort station this weekend for warming,” Courtney said.

Elsewhere, Morgan said Hanover Volunteer Fire Department opened its fire station as a warming shelter on Thursday evening with a few residents seeking shelter there.

Meanwhile, across the Ohio River soldiers from the Kentucky National Guard’s 138th Field Artillery Brigade were called out Friday morning to help clear a stretch of Interstate 71 in Gallatin County strewn with wrecks and slide-offs due to icy conditions overnight.

The southbound and northbound lanes near the 63 mile marker in Gallatin County was closed overnight due to multiple vehicle collisions and slide-offs with guard members called in from Lexington, Kentucky, on Friday to clear the wreckage and restore traffic.

Plan Commission approves plat for Habitat
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A new six-lot housing development that has been in the planning stages by Habitat for Humanity for several months, cleared another approval recently when Madison’s Plan Commission approved the preliminary plat for Clifty Woods Subdivision.

The project will develop six habitat homes on a cul-de-sac at the end of Beech Grove Street on Madison’s hilltop. The 1.5-acre tract is located across from the Rucker Sports Complex and near Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore of Jefferson County complex.

According to the application, access to the homes will be one way and the street will includes curbs, gutters, sidewalks and drainage. The city’s Redevelopment Commission has previously committed financial support for infrastructure. Construction, scheduled to begin early next year, could involve developing multiple homes simultaneously according to details released previously.

Meanwhile, the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) met recently and granted its blessing to a project to replace Madison’s Crystal Beach swimming pool and for a new cell tower on Madison’s hilltop.

Built in 1938, Crystal Beach pool predates the city’s zoning ordinance by several decades. When a project to refurbish the pool last year discovered that age and deterioration had left the facility unsuitable for repair, the city agreed to demolish the existing pool and build a new pool of similar design and character at the site.

Initially estimated to be about a $6 million project, a recent bid came in at $2 million higher for an $8 million cost. The city is looking at ways to finance the higher total and/or rescale the project and financing will involve a bond issue. The request before the BZA was to clear up usage rights to the site by adopting a variance of use allowing permanent use of the Crystal Beach Swimming Pool and Pool House.

According to Madison City Planner Nicole Schell, the pool property is zoned “open space” but during a review of the project, the city determined that pools are suitable uses under that zoning designation and “considering the historic nature of this particular building, we felt it was fitting to ask for this conditional use.”

Schell said adopting a variance, rather than a conditional use application, would assist the city’s bond issue by placing no time-line on how long the site can serve as a pool. She said while the pool won’t change hands functionally, it will change hands legally as part of the bond requirements and the variance solidifies the site use as a pool.

Elsewhere, the BZA approved an application by Chaille Tower Consultants to build a new 100-foot cell tower at the Nor-Rose Lodge property on Madison’s hilltop, 2250 Lanier Drive. According to developer Fred Low, the tower is being developed for Vertical Bridge and Verizon wireless to improve cell phone reception in the area. However, other clients could be added to the tower in the future. Low said the company considered a water tower owned by the city of Madison but the Nor-Rose site offered better access 24/7 .

The BZA approved the conditional use application for five years with up to five renewals for a total of 30 years.

Charlie’s Beat
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Zach Shelton wears a lot of different hats. This time of year you may know him from wearing a Santa hat playing The Grinch. Zach was featured in this year’s Christmas Parade as The Grinch, and he’s been appearing all around town in character at various events.

You may know him as the worship pastor at North Madison Christian Church, where he directs the music programming and then many holiday productions such as the Easter and Christmas shows.

Some folks will probably remember Zach from his days in the Christian rock band “64 to Grayson” where he toured year around from New England to Florida, sometimes playing as many as 200 shows a year.

But I know him as a guy just sitting out in front of The Attic Coffee Shop one warm fall day just a few weeks ago, strumming his guitar and filling the street with his amazing singing and playing. I happened to be riding by on my bicycle, and I thought to myself, “Now there’s a Charlie’s Beat story if I’ve ever heard one!”

Zach is a Zanesville, Ohio, boy who headed down to Kentucky Christian University for his higher education, a decision that would set the path of his life from then on. “They have a really good music program at KCU,” says Zach. “I’m pretty much from a musical family, so I knew that was the direction I wanted to go.

“My dad was in a southern gospel quartet, so I grew up around that influence. My grandpa was a Baptist preacher. And my great uncle, Benjamin Franklin Shelton, recorded a number of songs during the original Bristol Sessions, which were sort of the birth of country music.

“Anyway, Kentucky Christian was a great place to meet like-minded musicians, plus I met my wife, Lindsay, there. I started a country band called 64 to Grayson and we began traveling some. In the summer of 2012 we did 60 shows, so we knew we were onto something. We had a sound and a message people wanted to hear.

“The next seven years were kind of a blur, up and down the eastern part of the country, mostly playing in churches but not always. There were some bars and clubs too. It was pretty much just playing and driving, playing and driving, not really getting home too much.

“Lindsay and I started having kids during that time on the road, and by 2019 it was just too much. It was time to find a church to call home and settle down. Fortunately, my guitar player in the band knew about a job opening at North Madison Christian. I applied and got my first real ‘day job’ as Worship Pastor.

“It’s a pretty big job. There can be as many as 120 technicians and musicians needed to stage the big multi-media events, like the Christmas show. In fact, the mini-orchestra at Christmas is about 75 people. It’s quite the extravaganza, not a dull moment!

“We’ve really enjoyed getting to know Madison and becoming part of the community. We were too transient before to really settle in and make friends. But we are doing that now. We’re becoming vested in the place. Madison is a gem!”

Hot Tip of the Week

First, a word about the Charles Wesley Godwin show at Red Bicycle Hall last Friday. It was, without a doubt, one of the best shows ever staged at The Bike. Remember that name. I have a feeling we’ll be telling our friends someday, “Back before he became famous, that guy played in Madison in front of 200 people!” Now, looking forward, it’s time to think about your New Year’s Eve plans. As of right now I know about Tim Brickley and his band playing down at the Cotton Mill Fairfield, Rusty Bladen is playing at Mad Paddle Brewery, and there is an AC/DC tribute band playing at Rivertown Grill. If I hear about any more parties I’ll put it on the Big Music Calendar, available at

Charlie Rohlfing is a retired advertising man and partner in The Red Bicycle Hall music venue. Look for his distinctive fedora bobbing above the crowd, anywhere live local music is happening.

This Week in Music

Tuesday, Dec. 27

Off-Broadway Taproom — Open Mic Night

VMI, JCBT may be close to multi-year contract
  • Updated

Although no official action was taken Monday, Visit Madison Inc. and the Jefferson County Board of Tourism appear to be close to inking a multiple-year contract and approval could come at the JCBT’s January meeting.

Commissioner David Bramer, who is the president of JCBT, suggested a three-year contract but the board wants to consider how that might escalate each year to account for employee pay raises and other increased costs.

The current contract does not end until March 31, and there is also consideration of converting future contracts back to the calendar year.

Andrew Forrester, executive director of Visit Madison Inc. (VMI), said the “timing of the contract is not as much of a concern to me if we’ve got a multi-year contract. The real pain is if it’s every single year and we have to do an organizational budget when we don’t really know if our funding is continuing after the end of March.”

Lucy Dattilo, president of the VMI board of directors, said that when the initial contract was established in 2021 that it made sense for the contract to begin in the spring. “At the time it served its purpose,” but she said it now makes more sense to move the contract back to a calendar year so VMI can know “what our budget will be and how much we have to work with” in planning for each new year.

The suggestion is that the initial three-year contract would be for 33 months — nine months of 2023 beginning April 1, then 12 months each for both 2024 and 2025.

Board member Jim Bartlett said “there’s so much energy expended each year working on this budget and working on this contract, that if we go to a three-year contract, there’s still going to be a lot of energy expended on the contract, but it’s going to be just one time in three years, not every year.”

Bartlett also said a three-year contract moves county tourism in a better direction that allows strategizing for the future by developing longer range plans of three to five years. “Right now, we cannot do that with a one-year contract — not effectively,” he said.

Forrester said VMI is anxious for a decision on the new contract for organizational stability, and also because it wants to “hire more team members and continue to work, and start gearing up for 2023.”

However, without a contract, VMI is limited in the decisions it can make. With plans for four full-time employees and five part-time employees, he would like for VMI to have staff in place to most effectively do its work. “What we don’t want to do is to hire someone with that future unknown, so we’d like to get this taken done sooner than later.”

2 brothers facing felony child molesting charges
  • Updated

Madison police on Thursday arrested two Jefferson County brothers, charging them with felony child molesting after a lengthy investigation by multiple local agencies.

Keegan William Clement, 19, of Madison, and Dyllon Wayne Joseph Clement, 20, of Hanover, were both taken into custody without incident and transported to the Jefferson County Jail where they were being held Friday on a $50,000 cash bond each.

Keegan Clement was charged with Child Molesting, a Level 3 felony, while Dyllon Clement, was charged with Child Molesting, a Level 4 felony — both involving a pre-teen victim. Level 3 felonies carry a sentence of 3-16 years in Indiana while Level 4 felonies carry a sentence of 2-12 years.

MPD Det. Jeremey Perkins investigated the case and obtained arrest warrants for the brothers after a lengthy investigation. He was assisted in the investigation by MPD Det. Shawn Scudder, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southeastern Indiana, and the Jefferson County Prosecutor’s Office.