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Indiana Rail Road Co. (INRD) has pledged $50,000 in matching funds to help Dugger, Ind., residents establish and sustain Dugger-Union Community School.Located in the heart of the regional's 500-mile territory, Dugger is home to Dugger Union High School, where 910 residents last winter faced a threat to their town’s long-term viability when the local school board voted to close the school for budgetary reasons, INRD officials said in a press release. The closure called for high school students to transfer to schools that in some cases require a one-hour bus ride, they said.Dugger community leaders and parents worked for months to keep a school in their town. They established a partnership with Indiana Cyber Charter School and eventually formed Dugger-Union Community School, a K-12 school that opens on Aug. 25."As a native of a small town in Illinois and a long-time proponent of the southwest Indiana economy, I've seen what can happen to communities that lose their schools: they simply dry up," said INRD President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Hoback. "Dugger is an important anchor for INRD and our nearby customers, such as Peabody Energy. Many of our employees and families live there." The railroad’s donation — which would help cover operational expenses and extracurricular activities — is contingent upon the school’s ability to raise a sum-total in matching grants or find a donor willing to fully match the $50,000 pledge, INRD officials said.The regional also is pursuing various options, along with Peabody Energy’s nearby Bear Run Mine, the local carpenters union and other local employers, to provide in-class training for Dugger-Union students interested in pursuing a career in vocational trade industries.
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