Hope firefighters move into new station

Feb 22, 2017 63

Hope volunteer firefighters are finally operating out of their new fire station.

Chief Randy Wood explains the move from the aging fire station just off the Town Square to the new facility on the east side of the town on Aiken Street.:


Wood said that the new building offers more space and more bathrooms. He said firefighters are much more likely to stick around after a fire run with the new facilities.

Wood said that there are still a few odds and ends to take care of including some trim and carpeting that needs to be nailed down.

The department has been constructing the new facility for more than four  years with the project being  hampered by cost overruns, a now-settled lawsuit from the former contractors and a dispute with the Town Council that disrupted the department’s funding last year.

Johnson deputies warn of sweepstakes scam attempt

Feb 22, 2017 79

Deputies are warning about a fraud attempt, where a scammer tried to lure a Whiteland resident in with a promise of a Mercedes Benz and a multi-million dollar sweepstakes consolation prize.

The only catch was that the victim was supposed to send in $299 to cover the Indiana taxes so he could claim the award.

Johnson County deputies report that the would-be victim recognized that it was a scam attempt and played along, gathering more information. The caller claimed to be named Michael Anderson and calling from the 775 area code, which is in Nevada. The would-be vctim was told to mail the check to a Florida address by express mail.

And the scammers suggested he should keep his good fortune confidential, because they would soon be mailing a lot of cash to his home. The resident called deputies who were present for the return call.

Columbus police to offer safety class for high school girls

Feb 22, 2017 36

Columbus police are hosting a self-defense class for young women.

The Situational Awareness for Everyday, or SAFE classes, will be held Friday at Columbus North High School and March 9th at Columbus East. The all-day classes feature classroom time and physical drills with Columbus police officers.

The March class is also open to students from Hauser, CSA New Tech and Columbus Christian Academy high schools. It is aimed at senior high school girls and students must sign up prior to the start of class.

You can sign up at the schools and lunch is provided.

Former mayor sues Columbus Police Department

Feb 21, 2017 171

A former Columbus mayor is suing the city’s police department and its chief.

Kristen Brown filed the lawsuit on Friday in Bartholomew Superior Court 2. The suit alleges that CPD and Chief Jonathan Rhode denied Brown access to public records. According to the filing, Brown made a public information request on Sept. 8 to Chief Rohde for an incident that took place on Aug. 23. The incident involved criminal mischief or vandalism and a domestic disturbance where two vehicles were damaged.

Brown alleges that Rhode responded with a publicly available “incident report” on Sept. 26, 11-days later than what the Indiana Access to Public Records Act requires. The former mayor also alleges that Rohde did not include all of the information that she requested. This led to Brown filing a formal complaint with the Indiana Public Access Counselor on Sept. 30.

The public access counselor issued an advisory opinion that sided with Brown. You can read the advisory opinion here (PDF) .

The court filing states that Brown again pressed CPD for additional information from the Aug. 23rd incident. She says that her request was met with a response from City Attorney Allan Whitted, informing her that the department has turned over all of the information they had on the matter. Brown’s suit alleges that the city is not being truthful and is hiding the information she has been asking for.

Brown’s suit is asking for the court to force the Columbus Police Department to provide the information that she is requesting, declare that the department and Chief Rohde violated the Indiana Access to Public Records Act, impose a $100 civil penalty against CPD and for reimbursement to cover her attorney’s fees and other expenses. She is also asking the court for a change of venue. Superior Court Judge Kathleen Coriden has not yet made a ruling on the venue change request.

Brown’s action is the latest against the city after being ousted in the 2015 Republican Primary by current mayor, Jim Lienhoop. City officials say that Brown and a small group of her supporters have filed numerous public information requests, as well as made official complaints to the Indiana Public Access Counselor, against the city. Prior to the end of 2016, city officials say that nearly two-dozen requests were made during that year alone. Late last year, Mayor Lienhoop publicly asked Brown and her supporters to stop, citing the time and expense the requests were costing the city and its employees. Lienhoop said he made the public comment to let residents know about the requests, several of which he called, “silly.”

Our request for comment from Brown went unanswered. Chief Rohde referred us to Allan Whitted, who said that he has a professional policy of not commenting on pending litigation.

CPD Chief Rohde honors officer, veteran

Feb 21, 2017 59

A Columbus Police Officer was honored for his work with the Bartholomew County Veteran Treatment Court. Officer Brian Kushman

CPD Ofc. Kushman (L) with Chief Jon Rohde; photo courtesy of CPD

CPD Ofc. Kushman (L) with Chief Jon Rohde; photo courtesy of CPD

received a Letter of Commendation from Chief Jonathan Rohde during Tuesday’s meeting of the Columbus Board of Public Works and Safety. Chief Rohde says that Kushman, a 16-year veteran of the Columbus Police Department and an eight year veteran of the U.S. Army, volunteered to become a mentor to the Veteran’s Court when it began last year.

Participation in the Veteran’s Court is voluntary and each applicant is screened and evaluated before they are allowed to start the program. During the program, participants are paired with a mentor who is a veteran. Local officials say that the goal of the program is to restore the lives of veterans who have been arrested, while holding them accountable for their actions. Chief Rohde said of Kushman, “I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your military service and for your service to our community as a police officer. I commend you for the work you have done to positively impact the lives of our veterans and I am honored to work alongside you.”

North Vernon women arrested on drug charges

Feb 21, 2017 59

Two North Vernon women were arrested on drug charges as part of an Indiana State Police criminal interdiction patrol in Jennings County.

Jennifer Acree; photo courtesy of Indiana State Police

Jennifer Acree; photo courtesy of Indiana State Police

Sgt. Stephen Wheeles, Indiana State Police spokesman, says that Troopers Rick Hewitt, Randel Miller, and Brent Lykins conducted patrols near North Vernon throughout the day Sunday to look specifically for criminal offenses. During this patrol, troopers issued 10 traffic citations and 18 warnings. Wheeles says the troopers also made eight arrests on charges such as minor consumption, false informing, drug offenses and domestic battery. They also found people wanted on warrants.

Wheeles says that two arrests took place at approximately 12:50 p.m. when Trp. Lykins stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation on Norris Avenue, near White Street, in North Vernon. During the course of the traffic stop, the trooper became suspicious and asked Trp. Miller and K-9 “Jinx” to assist. Authorities say that Jinx was alerted to the odor of illegal drugs coming from the vehicle. A search reportedly revealed suspected methamphetamine, heroin, marijuana, controlled substances, and drug paraphernalia.

Louann Parton; photo courtesy of Indiana State Police

Louann Parton; photo courtesy of Indiana State Police

ISP says that the driver, 25-year-old Jennifer L. Acree, was arrested on charges of Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of a Hypodermic Syringe, Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Her passenger, 22-year-old Louann M. Parton, was arrested on charges Possession of Heroin, Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of a Narcotic Drug and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. In addition, police say that Parton was charged with Trafficking with an Inmate after drugs were found hidden on her while at the Jennings County Jail.

Seymour man killed in crash on US 31

Feb 21, 2017 74

A Seymour man was killed Monday night in a one-vehicle crash in Jackson County. Indiana State Police say that troopers were called US 31 near Commiskey Pike at approximately 11 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Indiana State Police

Photo courtesy of Indiana State Police

ISP says the initial investigation by Trooper Korry Clark indicated that a car driven by 27-year-old Robert Robbins was traveling north on US 31 near Commiskey Pike, approaching a sharp curve near the I-65 overpass. Police say that Robbins was unable to navigate the curve and his vehicle left the roadway and struck a guardrail. ISP says that Robbins was thrown from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene by Jackson County Coroner Michael Bobb.

Investigators say that speed and alcohol are both believed to be contributing factors in the crash. They add that Robbins was not wearing his seat-belt.

The investigation is ongoing.

Wanted man claims to be his brother after police stop

Feb 21, 2017 128
Cody Manvilla. Photo courtesy of Bartholomew County Sheriff's Department.

Cody Manvilla. Photo courtesy of Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department.

Bartholomew County deputies arrested a wanted man last night, but only after he allegedly tried to pass himself off as his own brother.

According to the sheriff’s department, a deputy tried to pull over a vehicle on U.S. 31 but the driver switched lanes, sped up and eventually turned off onto Robin Way before pulling over. The driver identified himself with his brother’s name but the deputy suspected he was really Cody Manvilla, says Judy Jackson, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department.

A second deputy who had prior experiences with Manvilla arrived and confirmed that the 25-year-old Taylorsville man was allegedly misidentifying himself.

Manvilla was wanted on four warrants for failing to appear in court and is now facing new charges of  possession of methamphetamine, false informing, driving while suspended with a prior conviction and operating a vehicle without ever receiving a license.

Police chase ends with dog bites in farm field

Feb 21, 2017 86
Jose Garcia Rodriguez. Photo courtesy of Columbus Police Department

Jose Garcia Rodriguez. Photo courtesy of Columbus Police Department

A Columbus man is under arrest on several charges after a 25-minute police chase last night through downtown and into the county.

The chase started after police noticed a car driving without a license plate in the 1600 block of Franklin Street at about 11:15 p.m. last night. When an officer tried to pull the vehicle over, the driver instead fled, eventually driving through two farm fields before getting stuck in the 3400 block of South County Road 250E. Lt. Matt Harris, spokesman for the police department, says the driver, 26-year-old Jose Garcia Rodriguez left the vehicle and reached toward his waist as he ran away.

Columbus police dog Argo and his handler Officer Branch Schrader took the man into custody. Rodriguez was treated at the hospital for dog bites before heading to jail.

Rodriguez is facing preliminary charges of possession of meth, resisting law enforcement both in a vehicle and on foot, criminal recklessness and operating a vehicle without a license.

County ready to receive rent for office space

Feb 21, 2017 56

Bartholomew County has found itself in the landlord business.

Through a land swap last fall with Columbus Regional Health, the county government became owners of a medical office building on Fox Pointe Drive that houses part of the county health department. As part of that swap, the county also now owns two other offices in the building that are leased to companies.

Yesterday morning the county commissioners set up a new fund to receive those rental payments and to pay out expenses related to the rental properties, says Commissioners President Carl Lienhoop.

Lienhoop says that since the swap, the rent has still been going to the hospital and that money will be transferred to the county now that the fund has been established. The exact amount of those rental payments aren’t yet known by the county, but the county will be responsible for the property taxes on those two offices, as well as paying an owner’s association fee of more than $5,000 a year to the office park, Lienhoop said.

Last fall, the county swapped the former annex property on State Street for the office building that the hospital owned on Fox Pointe Drive. Prior to the swap, the county had been renting the office space from the hospital.

The nursing division of the health department had been located in the State Street building, which used to be part of the State Street School, until that building was demolished by the county. Originally, the county commissioners had planned to build a new annex building at that location, but county financial problems led to that plan being nixed.

The county also had to find room for the Purdue Extension Office, which had been in the annex building. The county is buying the former Premier Ag headquarters building on Marr Road to house those offices.