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December 2015: Teen Sentenced On Murder Charge; Teacher Resigns; I-69 Section 4 Opens
Updated December 31, 2015 8:58 AM
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(UNDATED) - December saw a teen sentenced in murder case; a Bedford North Lawrence teacher resigns and Section 4 of I-69 opened to the public.

I-69 Section 4 Opened In December

A ceremony to celebrate the opening of Section 4 of Interstate 69 was held on December 9.

The Indiana Department of Transportation hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the WestGate Academy in the industrial complex adjacent to Naval Support Activity Crane. Gov. Mike Pence attended.

Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, law enforcement led attendees on a drive on the new highway to the Ind. 37 interchange south of Bloomington.

Section 4 of I-69 is the 27-mile stretch of highway from Naval Surface Activity Crane to Bloomington.

Sections 1, 2 and 3, which connected Evansville to Crane, opened to traffic November 19, 2012. Section 5, the 21-mile stretch from Bloomington to Martinsville, is under construction and follows the path of existing Ind. 37.

An Environmental Impact Study, which is required by the federal government for major infrastructure projects, is being conducted to help determine the exact route of Section 6. That study is expected to be completed by 2017.
The final Environmental Impact Study and Record of Decision to be finished by 2018. No source of funding has been identified for Section 6.

Once Section 6 is complete, I-69 will stretch from Evansville to Port Huron, Michigan, near the Canadian border. Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas all plan to build portions of I-69 to create a transcontinental highway linking Canada to Mexico.

Dillon HIcks Sentenced In Beating Death Of Heltonville Man

18-year-old Dillon Hicks was sentenced on December 28 to 65 years for the beating death and burglary of Rodney Allender.

Dillon Hicks pleaded guilty on November 30 to the beating death of 43-year-old Rodney Allender.

Allender was beaten to death at his Heltonville home in the 1700 block of Dutch Ridge Road in February 2014.

Under the terms of the plea agreement Lawrence Superior Court II Judge William Sleva sentenced Hicks to 55 years on the murder count and 10 years on the conspiracy to commit burglary with the sentences to run consecutively for a total of 65 years. Sixty years will be executed at the Indiana Department of Correction with five years suspended to supervised probation. Hicks, upon release from the DOC, would be required to register for life as a violent offender.

Hicks was the last of three teenagers who were charged with murder in Allender's death. The other two, Austin Curtis and Taylor Flynn, already have been sentenced after also changing their pleas to guilty.

Curtis was sentenced in September 2014 to 55 years with the Department of Correction, with 10 of those years suspended. Of the 10 suspended years, five will be served on supervised probation and five will be unsupervised.

Flynn was sentenced in April 2015 to 65 years with the DOC, with seven years suspended. Flynn will be on electronic monitoring for three years, followed by supervised probation for four years.

BNL Teacher Dennis Martin Resigns

Bedford North Lawrence High School teacher Dennis Martin submitted his resignation Dec. 3 at the school board meeting.

Martin did not attend the meeting but instead submitted a one-pager letter of resignation.

Martin, a social studies teacher, has taught at BNL for more than 22 years.

Superintendent Gary Conner refused to comment on the specifics of the school's investigation into the allegations from students that Martin touched or "massaged" students on the backs. One female student accused Martin of "trying to feel her bra strap." There was also a complaint of Martin showing a childbirth videos shown in his psychology class. Students complained the video may them feel uncomfortable.

In the letter Martin wrote: "After the members of the NLCS school board allowed me to conduct a private conference with them on November 18, 2015, I evaluated the various elements of the situation and I realize that, at times, my conduct did not represent the standards of a professional educator."

It continued to say - "I am not being coerced to proffer this resignation, and I was not coerced to submit my letter of resignation on Monday, August 31, 2015.

He added "The NLCS administration wants the community to find closure, and they want the community to heal."

In Martin's letter he also thanked the community for standing behind him.

IU's Marching Hundred Band To Receive New Building

On December 4, the Indiana University Board of Trustees approved a new, $10 million building for IU's Marching Hundred Band.

The 30,000-square-foot building would be located on the southeastern corner of Woodlawn Avenue and 17th Street, across the street from Assembly Hall and Memorial Stadium.

The building would include a 6,000-square-foot rehearsal space, in addition to two smaller rehearsal rooms measuring 2,600 square feet each. It would also house instrument storage and repair space, uniform storage and more. The project would be funded by gifts through the IU Foundation.

IU's Marching Hundred is composed of students who audition and take specialized music classes. Each year, the band performs at all home football games, one away game and the Rose Bowl (or another bowl game).

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