Embezzlement, soldier’s funeral top list of biggest stories of 2007 in the county

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For a small community, there were several major news stories in Switzerland County during 2007 – and choosing which was the biggest story of the year proved to be a close call.

The community was dominated by at least four major stories during the past calendar year, but two stood out as major events during 2007 – ones that shape this community in different ways for years to come.

It wasn’t an easy choice, but here are the top stories of 2007 as determined by the staff of Vevay Newspapers.

– This year’s top story is the embezzlement of more than $1 million by Switzerland County School Corporation treasurer Ann Geyman.

It was a story that captivated the entire community, beginning in May when the missing funds were discovered. At first the community held figures of less than $100,000; and those alarmed local residents, but when the State Board of Accounts and investigators from the FBI and IRS set the embezzlement at more than $1 million, everyone was in jaw-dropped shock.

We watched as federal investigators searched the home of Raymond and Ann Geyman, collecting evidence there as well as finding items that Ann Geyman had apparently hidden in barns in an effort to avoid them being seized by investigators.

The community saw the school corporation file civil charges against Ann Geyman, seeking to freeze her assets until after the criminal investigation was concluded. After the State Board of Accounts released its report, the FBI filed criminal charges against her; and then there was news of a plea agreement, where it was released that Ann Geyman had also embezzled funds from a Madison car dealership that she had worked at; and also had taken funds from the Madison Regatta organization, which she served as treasurer of for several years.

Raymond Geyman then shocked the community when he filed a lawsuit against the school corporation for defamation of character because of statements made by school officials insinuating that he had knowledge of the thefts by his wife.

The Ann Geyman situation had other impacts on the community, as well.

Wilma Swango resigned from the school board in order to resume duties as the corporation treasurer, a post that she had held for 13 years until 2002. She resignation caused the school board to appoint Wayne Daugherty, the man that Wilma Swango defeated, back to the school board.

The situation ultimately led to the resignation of superintendent Tracy Caddell, who moved on to the superintendent’s position at the Eastern Howard School Corporation after the school board voted to discontinue the roll over provision in his contract.

It was a story that encompassed the community for most of 2007, which is why the embezzlement of funds from the Switzerland County School Corporation is our number one story of the year.

– Our second place story drew a great deal of discussion because of its significance in the community.

The death of Sergeant Kenneth Booker in Iraq brought this community to the harsh realization that the statistics coming from the war are real people with real lives and real families.

The news of Kenneth Booker’s death; and his funeral services and burial here in Switzerland County, brought a swell of patriotism to a community already known for its devotion to country.

Large crowds braved heavy rain to pay their respects over two days; and a flood of sympathy for the family was evident from the first report of the news.

Sergeant Kenneth Booker is not only a Switzerland County hero; he is a true American hero.

Vevay Newspapers can pay no greater honor to him than he has paid for each of us.

– Our third story of 2007 involved the bomb threats to both Switzerland County and Ohio County schools; which proved to be a diversion so that an armed gunman could rob the East Enterprise branch of MainSource Bank.

Following a thorough investigation, Robert Lee Buchanan of Markland Pike was arrested and charged with the bomb threats as well as the bank robbery.

In other cities and communities, robberies are sometimes seen as happenings that occur in the normal scope of life. Not here in Switzerland County, where residents take things personally.

The real heroes of this situation were the tellers and bank employees, who kept their cool and kept themselves and their customers safe.

– Fourth was the robbery and kidnapping that occurred at the Markland Shell store near the Markland Dam in September.

After a botched robbery attempt, Terrance T. Young ended up kidnapping two store employees: James Dobbs and Kendall Otter, and then led law enforcement officers on a chase that ended in Cincinnati.

Again, local residents proved to be the heroes in the situation, as other employees kept their cool and alerted police as soon as possible.

– Rounding out the top five stories of the year was the huge ice storm that hit the county in February; causing many rural homes in Switzerland County to be without power, some for several days.

Workers from Southeastern Indiana REMC worked nearly non-stop before power was restored, not only in Switzerland County, but around the Southeastern Indiana area.

You never know how much you take things for granted, like turning on a light or opening a refrigerator, until you can’t do it. People who were left without electricity and heat during the situation found that family members and friends stood ready to take them into their homes and provide for their needs until the situation was resolved.

So there’s Vevay Newspapers’ top five stories of 2007. In the following pages readers will find what the staff felt were the top 10 stories of each month.

From the election of new town councils to the summer drought, there are many other events that shaped this county during the past year. Vevay Newspapers welcomes input from the community as to what you think were the top stories of the year.