Board adds lunchtime police officer at HNHS

School safety was again on the minds of the Huntington County Community School Corporation Board of School Trustees, who agreed in unison on adding extra police presence to Huntington North High School among action items at its regular meeting on Monday, June 11.

A recommendation to add a uniformed police officer to the high school during lunchtime was approved 5-0, with board members Reed Christiansen and Gary McClellan absent.

Currently there are two officers in uniform in the commons area and two other supervisors in the cafeteria. Due to the higher number of students in each lunch, the high school will keep two uniformed officers in the commons, one uniformed officer in the cafeteria and another adult supervisor who assists in the cafeteria and walks the hall between the cafeteria and commons. Three of the four officers will be uniformed instead of only two. The extra officer will also give School Resource Officer Ben Whitman the chance to visit other school buildings during lunch-time.

The board also unanimously approved uniformed officers to work as a security force during special activities, mainly at the high school. Those officers are Chris McCutcheon, Brian Double, Steve Sims, Skyler Beard, Matt Hughes, Scott Winter, Ben Spurgeon, Ryan Gatchel, Clayton Baker, Darius Hillman, Jered Brinkman, Nathan Haines and Ty Whitacre.

The board also unanimously approved the appointment of a new bid opening committee. Superintendent Randy Harris said in January as part of the annual reorganization process the committee included then Assistant Superintendent for Business and Classified Staff Jon Bennett. However, with Bennett’s retirement a new committee will now consist of Corporation Treasurer Edette Eckert, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Chad Daugherty and Harris.

The committee will consider bids on a lighting plan for the high school and a new roof for Crestview Middle School.

“Later in the summer we anticipate the bids for Roanoke Elementary,” Harris added.

On a related item, the board approved Bennett’s retirement from the school corporation, as well as unanimously ratified Bennett’s administrative suspension with pay, from Feb. 9 through June 30.

A new dish machine will soon be installed at Riverview Middle School, after the board approved its purchase, at a cost of between $40,000 and $55,000.

Food Service Director Ken Akins has obtained two quotes, which include replacing the exhaust system and ductwork. The purchase will be paid with cafeteria funds.

Harris said he was amazed by the longevity of the old dish machine.

“This dish machine was actually original to the building and has made it 36 years,” he said. “I guess it needs to be retired.”

The board also heard a report about a project started by a first-grade class at Lancaster Elementary School, part of the Lancaster Leaving a Legacy project as the school closed its doors at the end of this school year.

Harris said the students had been raising money to help with a clean water project in Africa.

“They read a book called ‘The Water Princess,’ and according to Mrs. (Jeanne) Paff, they were moved to tears that some people – our students couldn’t imagine that some people didn’t have access to clean water. We take it so much for granted in our country,” Harris explained. “The students became so passionate about the cause that they were moved to action.”

The students began raising money for the Georgie Badiel Foundation, an organization that is committed to increasing access to clean water in the West African country of Burkina Faso and its neighboring countries. They surpassed the $750 needed to refurbish a well, and aimed their sights at raising $10,000 to pay for the installation of a new well in a new location.

Harris announced that the students have raised enough money to install a new well, adding that the Lancaster students will be able to change the lives of 3,000 people by putting in a new well, thus leaving a legacy for their school.

“Other schools have raised money for this and they’ve sent it to the foundation,” Harris said. “To our belief, we are the first school to be able to raise all of the money for a well.”

Paff is sending a letter to supporters inviting them to a visit via Skype with Georgie Badiel on Wednesday, June 20, at 6 p.m. at Huntington City-Township Public Library.

The students are still collecting money for the project. A GoFundMe page has been set up for donations at