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August 7, 2012

10-hour event to raise money for tornado victims

Wanda English Burnett

Whether it's getting a signed guitar by Willie Nelson and Jamey Johnson or listening to your favorite band, the day at Holton on Saturday, August 11 promises to be a great one. The event will begin at noon and last until 10 p.m. with bands lined up for the entire time. There will also be great food and games available with fun for the whole family.

Everyone's a winner at the end of the day when the tallies are made. People coming to the 10-hour bash are sure to have a great time, and those receiving the benefits from it will be thankful.

Keith Swinney, one of the promoters and organizers of the bash, told the Osgood Journal that he had already thought about a band bash for Holton way before the tornado hit the town on March 2.

Matter of fact, he had talked the idea over with his best friend, Ron Pickett, who lost his life in the tornado, and played in the Keith Swinney Band. "We wanted to do some kind of a benefit for some needy firefighters," Swinney noted, never realizing the benefit would be for his friends and neighbors.

The Holton Branch of The Napoleon State Bank also was brainstorming about how they could help the town. They are celebrating their 50th anniversary and decided they would put their efforts toward the benefit for the town rather than promote their anniversary date with celebrations.

The two came together and have planned quite an elaborate event for Saturday.

Bands will take the stage at the Holton Community Park, which has been refurbished since the tornado struck, beginning at noon with The Keith Swinney Band. The day will follow with a variety of musical talent.

For those who would rather be inside, the Christian Church has opened their doors where music and preaching will take place at various times throughout the day.

There will be lots more going on at the park with a variety of games complete with a cornhole tournament. Homemade ice cream will be available, along with fun family activities that include bouncy houses for the children, silent auction, festival games and more. At the silent auction, big ticket items have been secured by those putting the bash together. "National country artists have been good to Holton," noted Melea Gault, representative of the Napoleon State Bank. She noted there are a number of signed items from country music greats, in addition to the guitar signed by Willie Nelson and Jamey Johnson. There are other local prizes such as a night's stay at the Belterra Casino and Resort and much more.

Under the big tent at the park, tornado victims affected by the tornado on March 2 will be treated to a Holton Recovery Event care package to be used on August 11 at the park. The care package may be picked up on Friday, August 10 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Long Term Recovery Office located by the police department in Holton or on Saturday morning from 9 a.m. until time of the event. Those affected can call the recovery office at 689-1300 or 852-4002 if they can't pick up their packet during office hours.

Something special to fans of Ron Pickett will be the release of a CD, the Ron Pickett Tribute, which is a compilation of songs performed by Ron. Proceeds from this will go to Ron's wife, Sheryle, and to the Ron Pickett Scholarship Fund.

Proceeds from every other money making event at the bash will go to the rebuilding efforts of the Holton community.

Swinney said he has lost his dear friend, but wants his memory to be kept alive. Describing Ron as his "best friend" Swinney said he played a new song for him that went like this, "When I've chased my dreams into eternity, and wonder where my life has gone…who's gonna' listen to my songs?"

"You finally did it - that's my favorite song," Swinney said Pickett told him. Another part goes, "I've watched so many of my heroes pass away, but their presence is still felt when their songs are played."

Swinney said he gets an eerie feeling now when he plays that song, and knows it was meant to be. "I'd love for someone to take one of my songs, maybe the latest, and if I can help Holton raise a few thousand dollars with it, that would be great," Swinney told the Osgood Journal.

The local singer/songwriter has performed with music greats such as Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, and Toby Kieth.

From the agony of the first time Swinney looked out across the field and realized his best friend's home was gone, to the parting words at his funeral, he said he knew life would never be the same. "You don't find too many people like Ron" Swinney said. He described Ron as having an undying devotion to the band and playing music. He went even when he felt bad, or was tired. According to Swinney the band played every weekend the year before Ron's death, and said it was a grueling year, but one he'll always treasure because of the time spent with Ron. They would ride back and forth to the gigs together since they just lived across the street from each other.

People are invited to come to the Road to Recovery bash to celebrate the lives of Ron Pickett and Armando Hernandez, who both were killed in the tornado. The bash will also be a fundraiser for rebuilding efforts of the Holton community, many of whom are still rebuilding six months later.

Everyday something changes in the town of Holton as bulldozers and backhoes are busy at work and hammers are clicking against nails on homes or outbuildings.

A temporary office for the Holton Long Term Recovery Group has been set up and people are working toward getting their lives back after the tornado ripped through the small town.

The Road to Recovery bash is meant to be a time of celebration and reflection. You can just sit, relax and visit, play games, or dance to the bands - it's all about letting the townspeople have a day that will not only be healing, but money that is raised will be helpful down the road - the road to recovery.

If you cannot attend the event, but would like to donate to the cause, you can do so by sending a monetary donation to The Napoleon State Bank, Attn: Holton Recovery Account, P.O. Box 9, Napoleon, IN 47034.

Those interested in helping out in any other way can contact event coordinator Christy Sutton at 852-4002 ext. 230 at the bank, or csutton@napoleonstatebank.com or 812-756-1535.


Pictured at left, Keith Swinney of Holton, displays the guitar that has been signed and played by country artist living legend Willie Nelson, pictured below. The guitar was also signed by Jamey Johnson and will be raffled off at the event coming up on Saturday at Holton. There are a number of other items signed by country music stars. Come out and see if you can get your favorite one!

SR school board holds special mtg.

Wanda English Burnett

A special meeting of the South Ripley Community School Corporation Board of Trustees was held Monday, July 30 at the high school auditeria.

Rob Moorhead was named superintendent with unanimous approval.

Other business at the meeting included:

• Unanimous approval for Laurie Wood to fill the newly created ROD-reimbursed Moderate teaching position effective with the 2012-2013 school year.

• Karen Burford was approved as a special education bus aide starting at one hour daily, with the flexibility to add time as special education student needs change throughout the school year. This met with unanimous approval and is effective for the 2012-2013 school year.

• Cindy Strunk was given unanimous approval to fill the special education bus aide route vacated by the transfer of Thom Conover to a full-time classroom aide position. Strunk currently serves as a bus aide in the morning, and her hours would extend to the afternoon route as well. This is effective for the 2012-2013 school year.

Superintendent Ahaus, who was acting superintendent for one month for the corporation who lost Dr. Mehrle July 1, recommended approval of a contract with ESI for Phase 1 and 2. This is to get the computer and storage distribution system repaired after the recent complete system failure.

Phase 1 consists of installing three new servers, a SANS, and infrastructure needed to get the computer system back up and running.

Phase 2 is needed for a deep dive assessment.

It was noted that Phase 1 will be paid for by the general fund in the amount of $50,346.08, and the cafeteria fund will be $8,152.34.

Phase 2 will be paid for by the general fund in the amount of $8,370.

After the deep dive assessment is made, a recommendation will be made for any needed infrastructure for the corporation wide system. This motion to approve both phases with specific funds to cover the expenses was given unanimous approval by the board.

While the computer system is down, staff will be utilizing some old fashioned methods of doing things, which makes it a little slower going. Also, students are not allowed to get "extras" with their meals in the elementary school, due to computing problems.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the South Ripley School Board of Trustees will be held Monday, August 20 at 7:00 p.m. at the administrative building.

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