Officials assessing storm damage in area, many without power

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Storm damage photo courtesy of Bartholomew County Sheriff's Department.

Storm damage photo courtesy of Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department.

Local officials are still assessing storm damage from the possible tornado that blew through our area at around 8 p.m. tonight.

Many area roads and streets are closed, blocked with trees and downed power lines. The Columbus Fire Department urges you to stay inside your home and not to inspect storm damage because power lines could be tangled up in any downed trees or branches.

Bartholomew County REMC is reporting that a line of poles fell down along State Road 36, near Rock Creek Elementary school and the Grandview and Ogilville substations were without power as of about 9:30 p.m. That took down power to all REMC members in the southwestern portion of the county. They have crews working to repair the damage.

Duke Energy was reporting more than 4,000 outages around Columbus as of 10:30 p.m.

Many stoplights are without power. The Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department reminds you that if you come to an inactive traffic light, treat it as a four-way stop.

Storm damage photo courtesy of Bartholomew County Sheriff's Department

Storm damage photo courtesy of Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department


Sleepy driver arrested on meth possession charge

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Robert E.B. Copas. Photo courtesy of Columbus Police Department.

Robert E.B. Copas. Photo courtesy of Columbus Police Department.

A driver who fell asleep in the middle of the road early this morning is under arrest on drug charges.

Columbus police are reporting that officers were called to the suspicious vehicle at about 1:20 a.m. in the 2300 block of Keller Avenue. When an officer woke the driver, 45-year old Robert Copas got out of the truck and police say a glass smoking pipe fell to the ground.

After he was arrested he was searched and methamphetamine was allegedly found in his clothing. He is facing preliminary charges of possession of meth and paraphernalia.

Anderson Falls nature walk planned for May 6th

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If you want to learn more about the wildflowers and fossils at Anderson Falls, or just enjoy a spring walk in the woods, there is an upcoming hike for you.

Map to Anderson Falls park courtesy of Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Map to Anderson Falls park courtesy of Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

On Saturday, May 6th Jason Larson of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources will be leading a hike through the Bartholomew County park. The mile and a half long walk will visit the 44-acre state nature preserve in the park.

According to the state, the Nature Conservancy originally purchased the property in 1977. It has been managed and operated as a county park and natural area since then.

The park is on County Road 1140E near Hartsville and the hike will head out at 10:30. You should dress for the mud and weather and be prepared to cross a low-water stream.

For more information, call 812-379-1665.

Cummins planning $4.4 million expansion in Walesboro

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Cummins is planning a $4.4 million dollar investment in a property on International Drive in Columbus.

The former shell building built by Force Construction will be turned into Cummins new Machine Integration and Rebuild Center. No new jobs will be added but the company reports to the city that it plans to retain 36 jobs at the center with an average wage of almost $34 dollars an hour.

The company is asking for a tax abatement on the property, which will allow their property taxes to be phased in over 10 years. The company also said it does not plan to ask for tax abatements on the equipment that will go into the building, with an estimated cost of $430 thousand dollars.

Columbus City Council is expected to consider the request at its meeting Tuesday. Council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday evening at the Council Chambers in Columbus City Hall.

Deputies looking for leads in stolen pontoon boat

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Photo courtesy of Bartholomew County Sheriff's Department.

Photo courtesy of Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department.

Bartholomew County Sheriff’s deputies are looking for your help identifying a pickup they believe was involved in the theft of a pontoon boat.

Photo courtesy of Bartholomew County Sheriff's Department.

Photo courtesy of Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department.

The sheriff’s department has released low quality surveillance photos of the truck towing away the boat from a business near U.S. 31 and State Road 7. The truck appears to be an older four-door Ford F-250 or F-350 pickup. It is light colored on the top with a dark or black lower section.

If you recognize the truck or have any information, no matter how seemingly insignificant, can contact Detective Jason Williams at
(812) 565-5928. Or you can call the sheriff’s tip line at 812-379-1712. Tips can be left anonymously.


Tree giveaway set for tonight at county fairgrounds

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The Bartholomew County Soil and Water Conservation District wants you to take home up to five trees to plant as part of its Arbor Day program today.

Organizers say that the sixth-annual tree giveaway will be this evening from 5 to 7 in the Community Building at the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds. About 1,300 trees will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

You can choose from Redbud, Silky Dogwood, Norway Spruce, Bald Cypress and Black Oak. Heather Shireman with the conservation district explains why those trees were chosen.

Shireman said you will also be able to purchase rain barrels tonight. The district provides those for $65 but there is a $40 refund after you show proof that you installed the barrels on your property.

She explains the benefits of the barrels.


Human rights online tool has seen use and abuse

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Aida Ramirez, director of Columbus Human Rights Commission. Photo courtesy of City of Columbus.

Aida Ramirez, director of Columbus Human Rights Commission. Photo courtesy of City of Columbus.

A new online tool for anonymously reporting hate crimes and discrimination in Columbus has had a small amount of use since it launched last month, but it has also drawn those who are abusing the tool itself.

Aida Ramirez, director of the Columbus Human Rights Commission, says that the online tool has drawn about 140 visits on the city website and three seemingly legitimate complaints since it was launched. One incident of reported discrimination appears to fall under the human rights commission authority and the person asked to be contacted, so Ramirez said that information will remain confidential.

Two reports were submitted anonymously:

Ramirez said that one person was told to go back where they came from and another was physically attacked. Both of those would be outside the human rights commission jurisdiction and will just be used for statistical purposes.

But the tool has also had four people use it to send fake reports with attached images that were offensive.

Ramirez said she was disappointed that people would waste their time submitting fake reports and city employees’ time dealing with the false reports and inappropriate images.

You can find the tool online at

Medora man arrested in bank card theft

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Aaron J. Crum. Photo courtesy of Columbus Police Department

Aaron J. Crum. Photo courtesy of Columbus Police Department

A Medora man is accused of using someone else’s bank card to rack up $1,700 dollars of cash withdrawals and charges at a department store.

30 year old Aaron J. Crum was reportedly acting sick when Columbus police were called to the report of a suspicious person at a 25th Street store Wednesday afternoon. Police found that Crum was wanted on four outstanding warrants for failing to appear in court.

After being arrested on the warrants, Crum was searched and officers allegedly found methamphetamine in a cigarette pack he was carrying. He is facing preliminary charges of theft and possession of methamphetamine.

CPD announces change to front desk staffing

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The Columbus Police Department has adjusted the hours that the department’s front desk is open. Lt. Matt Harris, department spokesman, says the change is being made in an effort to increase the number of officers patrolling the street during peak times for calls for service. He explains that the front desk, located inside the lobby of the Columbus Police Department, is staffed by an officer to answer non-emergency phone calls, complete reports for minor incidents which have already occurred and to answer general questions from the public.

Harris says that the front desk will now be open from Monday thru Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will be closed and closed Saturday and Sunday. A call box, which contacts police dispatch, has been placed at the front door of the police department to request an officer when the desk is closed. Lt. Harris says that calls for service have increased 17-percent over the past five years, necessitating this change. “By having additional officers on the street during evenings and on the weekend, we are able to respond to calls in a timely manner and avoid having the public wait for an officer for an extended period of time,” said Harris.

Suspected overdose leads to arrest

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Destiny Shipley; photo courtesy of Bartholomew County Sheriff's Dept.

Destiny Shipley; photo courtesy of Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Dept.

Another suspected overdose in Columbus led to the arrest of a local woman. Judy Jackson, Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman, says that just after 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Deputy Andrew Dougan responded to the 3300 block of West Lowell Road on a report of an unresponsive female was in a vehicle.

Jackson says that prior to Dougan’s arrival, Reserve Deputy Tim Dillingham had stopped at the scene and pulled the woman from the vehicle. Authorities say that 21-year-old Destiny Shipley, of Gilmore Street, was not breathing when Deputy Dougan administered Narcan. Dougan then reported using an AMBU bag and began breathing for Shipley when she did not respond. Shipley began breathing on her own a short time later.

Deputies reported finding an uncapped syringe loaded with a clear substance on the ground just outside the passenger door of the vehicle. They say the cap for the syringe was found on the vehicle’s floorboard. Officers with the Bartholomew County Joint Narcotic Enforcement Task Force arrived on the scene and reported finding a knife and two spoons in the vehicle. Both spoons allegedly contained residue. Authorities say they also found a corner-cut baggie containing a white crystal substance.

Shipley was evaluated at Columbus Regional Hospital before being arrested on preliminary charges of:

Possession of Heroin,
Possession of Paraphernalia,
Possession of a Syringe and
Bartholomew County Warrant

Authorities say that Shipley remains behind bars on $137,500 bond.

Sheriff’s officials say that this incident is yet another in a string of drug-related issues in the community. They ask that if you know or suspect someone of dealing drugs, to call their office at (812) 379-1740 ot the department’s anonymous Tip Line at (812) 379-1712. You may also contact authorities via email at