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SW plans to reopen doors on Aug. 4

Southwestern Consolidated Schools will be reopening its doors to students when school is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, Aug. 4.

After a survey found that parents resoundingly wanted to send their children back to campus, the district intends to fulfill those wishes.

The re-entry plan is not finalized, said Curt Chase, who officially starts his first day as superintendent today. But the district is taking precautions “in every area” in an effort to follow the guidelines provided by the Center for Disease Control.

Hallway rules are being adjusted and the district is recommending – not requiring – that students wear masks, he said.

Students in the elementary school will not switch classrooms. Instead, teachers will.

“That way students stay in the same classroom all day,” he said.

Southwestern sent out a survey to parents to get their thoughts and to see how it could ease any concerns about the upcoming school year.

What the survey found was that 95 percent of respondents said they wanted their child to return to school in person.

There were some concerns about social distancing, Chase said, adding they would do the best they could to address that.

A lot of respondents said they did not want their child wearing a mask, he said, adding he understood both sides of the argument.

“You could find a study for both sides,” he said.

A committee made up of administrators, teachers and parents met to discuss how best to reopen at Southwestern, including the requirement of masks. Ultimately, they decided it was best to leave that decision at the discretion of parents and students.

The district has not decided whether or not it will provide a virtual learning option.

One school board in Shelby County, Shelbyville Central, voted in favor of giving its students that option on a trial basis. Another district, Northwestern Consolidated, announced that it will not.

The Southwestern administration will be meeting this week with teachers to discuss virtual learning as an option, Chase said.

He said that while it was “not ideal” in offering it, he anticipated it being an option once teachers were able to express their concerns.

At the same time, he said Southwestern’s plan was not guaranteed to be the one it uses at the start of the school year, noting the fluidity of the current situation.

“This could all change in two weeks,” he said. “We’re answering questions the best we can.”

Splash pad opens Saturday

The splash pad at Blue River Park is set to open on Saturday.

Trisha Tackett, recreation director, says that she encourages community members to have conversations with children before visiting, and come prepared.

Masks, social distancing, and use of hand sanitizer is recommended. There is also a shower at the splash pad that can be utilized before and after use.

“Go play and have fun, but be smart about things,” Tackett said.

The splash pad’s chemicals will be tested twice a day, and the water will be tested weekly by the state. The facility also uses UV ray lights that kill 99 percent of bacteria.

Tackett expects the area to be heavily used all summer long.

“With our city pool not open this summer, this will be the place people will go, it will probably be crowded,” she said.

Hall of Fame accented with Shelbyville flavor

Thirty years ago this week, the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame opened its doors in New Castle. Three decades later, the grand facility is accented with distinct Shelbyville flavor.

From the 1947 state championship team to the museum’s very beginnings in 1962 and volunteer leadership key to operation today, Shelbyville is definitely part of the “line-up.”

One man, in particular, is a Hall of Fame “floor general” of sorts, says the museum’s executive director, Chris May.

Don Chambers, a member of Shelbyville’s 1947 state championship team, is an active volunteer here.

“He is a key and longstanding volunteer who does important work for us,” May said.

Chambers is on a team of approximately 65 who give of their time to help lead tours and answer questions for visitors.

“Our volunteers leave a big impression on our visitors,” May said. “I’m here to tell you 30 years later they’ve made all the difference.”

May said volunteer hours here have been calculated to be an equivalent of well over $1 million in saved payroll costs.

“Our volunteers have their own council and award their own scholarship,” May said. “They have a real sense of ownership in helping with the facility.”

Chambers oversees as many as 65 volunteers on the active list. They range from working three times per week to once a year.

But Shelbyville’s presence is far more than just leading tours.

A large photo of the 1947 Shelbyville boys state championship team is still displayed in the museum, along with framed newspaper articles from here that captured the moment.

Bill Garrett, a member of that team, was Mr. Basketball in 1947.

Other members of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame from Shelbyville include:

Nate Kauffman, a local insurance agent, who May said was “a pillar of getting the museum off the ground in the early 1960s. For over 21 years, he was one of Indiana’s most highly respected basketball officials, working over 1,000 games. He officiated 5 straight state title games from 1936-1940.

Brenda Kelsay Simmons who set a career scoring record of 1,374 points for Shelbyville High School. She was a key member of the 1979 regional championship team and averaged 26 points and 7.9 rebounds per game as a senior to become the 1st Indiana All-Star in Shelbyville history (1981)

Gary Long, who coached Tom and Dick VanArsdale and Jon McGlocklin as assistant freshman coach at IU while pursuing his MBA. He was leading scorer in IU’s highest point-total game ever, a 122-93 win over Ohio State.

The New Castle museum was last open on March 13, about a week and a half before the men’s annual banquet was to occur. Then COVID-19 hit. Plans for reopening the facility and celebrating its 30th anniversary are still undetermined.

But the museum has an impressive website at

“This is a real impressive operation you have here,” a visitor last week said to May.

The visitor? None other than legendary Indiana Hoosier basketball coaching legend Bob Knight.

Athletic registrations due by July 6

Registration to participate in athletics at Shelbyville high and middle schools must be completed by July 6 for athletes who wish to start participating by then.

Both athletic departments will be offering an opportunity to complete athletic registration in person from 5-7 p.m. today in front of the high school tennis courts, where parents can pick up and turn in athletic paperwork.

Those who have a physical on file with the athletic department for the 2019-20 school year and who wish to use it for the upcoming school year, as well as have answered “no” to all questions on the history and consent form by the IHSAA, will only need to complete and turn in the form. For those who do not have an IHSAA physical on file for either the high or middle schools from the previous school year must get one before July 6. Any questions that are answered “yes” on the IHSAA history and consent form will require a new physical to be completed for the 2020-21 school year.

Election year politics a barrier to police reform bill

More than 60 officers injured nationwide. At least 150 federal buildings damaged. As many as 40 U.S. Park police hurt – 22 of them seriously.

This in response to recent tragedies in which black Americans have been shot and killed by police – more than 1,000 in the past year, according to a study done by The Washington Post.

Can middle ground be found? During a visit to Shelbyville Friday, U.S. Sen. Todd Young fears election-year politics will get in the way.

The recent protests against law enforcement nationwide was a major topic of concern from local residents attending a meet-and-greet event Friday with Young. The senior Indiana senator said legislators are close to a major reform bill, but one of the main antagonists happens to be vying for the vice presidential nomination – California Sen. Kamala Harris.

Young didn’t mention California Sen. Kamala Harris by name, but national reports indicate she is leading the charge against a bill he says gives Democrats 80 percent of what they were asking for, including:

Holding police forces accountable through transparency around the country. More reporting requirements about shootings so members of the public can scrutinize those areas of the country that have a disproportionate number so appropriate changes can be made, if needed.

Providing more resources to local departments (body cameras to protect the officers and citizens).

Establishing a commission to look at longer-term, more complex issues.

Assisting with recruiting “When you have a bad apple move from one police force to another, we want those records to follow them, so that the hiring force will be aware of any offenses that have occurred in their previous places of employment,” Young said. “And that doesn’t always happen.”

Young said regrettably, there was principle disagreement “as related to a couple of provisions.”

“Rather than compromising and accepting an 80 percent deal...,” Young said

“They want zero,” Shelbyville black resident William Garrett said, completing the senator’s sentence with a tone of frustration.”

“They probably could have negotiated 90 percent of what they wanted in a conference committee,” Young said. “They wanted zero.

“If you follow what I say and how I say it, I very infrequently question my colleagues’ motives,” Young added. “But this was political. This was politics. Election year politics. And rather than solving a problem, they wanted to maintain an issue and incite people into anger, thinking that will motivate them at the ballot box. And it may, which is cynical. During a time of strife and challenge, it’s very troubling.”

“And also because your colleague who offered the legislation looks like me – Sen. Scott,” Griffith said. “Senator Scott from South Carolina looks like me.”

That makes the Senate Democrat refusal to compromise even more frustrating in Young’s eyes.

“My colleague, Tim Scott from South Carolina, is the first black Republican from the U.S. south in the Senate since reconstruction and he’s shown a lot of courage, getting way out in front on this bill,” Young said. “He’s leaned into it. He’s called it out for what it is. He said, ‘look, they are not fighting for racial injustice in their opposition to this bill. If they were, they’d accept what we have and wake up the next day and fight for the piece they didn’t get but say they want.’ And so, I’m really proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Tim Scott.

Then, turning again to Shelbyville’s Griffith, Sen. Young said: “Thank you, James. Thanks for saying that.”