State police recover hundreds of stolen items in home search

Jun 21, 2017 84

Photo courtesy of Indiana State Police.

Indiana State police say that a Columbus home was full of thousands of dollars worth of stolen items when they served a search warrant Monday. The Keller Avenue search also yielded methamphetamine, counterfeit money and two people were arrested.

Photo courtesy of Indiana State Police.

Police were looking for a fugitive when they went to the home in the 1900 block of Keller Avenue Monday afternoon, according to Sgt. Stephen Wheeles, spokesman for the state police. Police say a search revealed more than two ounces of what they believe was methamphetamine, counterfeit money and hundreds of stolen items. They say the search and cataloging the items took more than a day.  State police say that the stolen items were taken both from area stores and from thefts from individual victims.

And many victims have been contacted so they can retrieve their items.

Homeowner Jason D. Warren and his girlfriend Rhonda A. Oliphant, who are both 44 years old, were arrested on numerous charges.

Photo courtesy of Indiana State Police.

Warren is facing preliminary charges of dealing methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine. a syringe and stolen property, maintaining a common nuisance, and and counterfeiting.

Oliphant was arrested on preliminary charges of dealing methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine, a syringe and stolen property and visiting a common nuisance.

State Police was assisted by the Columbus Police Department, Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department, Decatur County Sheriff’s Department and Jennings County Sheriff’s Department.

Hope hears proposals for trash collection

Jun 21, 2017 79

A proposal to start town-wide trash service in Hope would cost residents between $8 and $16 a month, depending on the company and options chosen. But town officials are not making any decision yet.

The Town Council formally accepted bids from three companies interested in providing the town trash service. The lowest bid, CGS, would charge residents $7.55 a month in the first year, with the town adding a dollar to a dollar and a half for a processing fee. The trash fees, if approved, would be collected with the town water bills.

The Town Council took no action on the proposals last night and had no discussion. Town officials have said that they want to wait to see the results of a proposed water rate hike by Eastern Bartholomew Water Corp. that would also affect town residents before deciding on whether to institute the new program.

Council approves increase to capital fund rate

Jun 20, 2017 52

The Columbus City Council gave final approval to an increase in the Cumulative Capital Fund Rate. Jamie Brinegar, the city’s director of finance, explained that the increase is being recommended by the state’s Department of Local Government Finance. The increase would see the rate increase from .0316 cents per 100-dollars of assessed value to five-cents, beginning next year.

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Brinegar talked about how the increase could affect home owners.

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Brinegar says that additional money brought in from this rate increase would be earmarked for public safety.

A few residents spoke out against the increase, citing concerns that it would result in a tax increase for those who could least afford it. Brinegar again stressed that this fund rate is only one of seven factors that figure into the city’s overall tax rate. As during the first reading of the ordinance, he pledged to try to make adjustments to the other six to negate any potential increase. Brinegar pointed to the fact that the city’s tax-rate fell in the first year of the current administration.

Brinegar went on to say that this adjustment is being made simply to have a steady, adequate stream for finances dedicated to public safety. Councilman Dascal Bunch echoed Brinegar’s sentiment, saying that not enough has been done in previous years to “shore-up” the city’s police and fire departments. Bunch says the council now has to “play catch-up” to get both departments to where they need to be to adequately provide service for city residents.

The council approved the ordinance on final reading on a vote of 5-2. Frank Miller and Laurie Booher voted against it.

Columbus focus of PBS program

Jun 20, 2017 60

Columbus will be the focus of a PBS program Thursday night. Sarah Curtiss is the producer of “The Weekly Special.” She talks about the aim of the program.

Curtiss says that they will have six stories about locations in Columbus, including a piece on Zwanzigz Pizza & Brewing…

Another piece will focus on Musillami’s Drive-In. Curtiss and her crew visited the drive-in on Jonesville Road last Friday afternoon to talk to Mike Musillami, the son of the original owners. Musillami talked about his family and the business, which is celebrating 60 years.

Thursday night’s program airs locally on WTIU at 8 p.m.

Columbus water safe, say city officials

Jun 20, 2017 64

Columbus City officials say that they acted quickly to get the word out during last week’s E. coli situation with the city water system, moving within minutes of test results that confirmed E. coli in a city well.

Mary Ferdon, the city’s director of administration, said that they believe the public was never in any danger. She laid out the timeline in detail explaining that the city’s first test result indicating e-coli in the well and in the city distribution system came back Thursday from tests performed Wednesday.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management required second samples be done on Thursday to ensure that it was not a false positive. Those results came back Friday afternoon showing the contamination in the well, but not in the city distribution system. After receiving the confirmation, the city had 24 hours to alert the public to boil its water, but instead sent out that warning to media outlets within minutes. That went out about 4:15 p.m. Friday afternoon. The city also alerted the hospital and public health department of the results at that time.

During Tuesday night’s city council meeting, Keith Reeves, director of Columbus City Utilities, gave a report on what happened. He echoed Ferdon’s statement that utility customers were never in danger of getting sick from contaminated water. Reeves noted a report from Columbus Regional Health and state health department officials that showed their were no reported cases of patients with E. coli.

Reeves went on to tell council members that the reason no action was initially taken to inform the public about the positive test result was the frequencies of “false-positives” in water tests such as these. He says that the utility usually gets two or three false positives each year and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management discourages the possibility for alarming communities until accurate information is known.

With that, Reeves stressed that the well in question was taken out of service immediately after the discovery of the first positive test. At no time, he says, did the city’s water distribution system test positive for E. coli. Reeves noted that the utility doesn’t yet know what led to the contamination, but an investigation is ongoing. Until that is resolved, he says the well in question will remain off-line.

Ferdon said that one thing they would do differently going ahead, would be to ask the county emergency operations center sooner to send out alerts over its Everbridge system. She said that city officials did not consider alerting the public in that way until too late in the process, and those alerts, which are sent by phone, text and e-mail, did not go out until about 8 p.m. Friday.

City has hopes on plan to alleviate train traffic

Jun 19, 2017 95

There may be some good news for the city of Columbus as officials continue to work on how to deal with a massive increase in train traffic. Improvements to the railroad lines through the city are currently underway with an increase in traffic expected to begin in 2018. Once fully implemented, the number of trains running through Columbus on a daily basis are expected to increase more than six-fold. In addition to the increase in traffic, the weight and length of trains will increase as well, with train-lengths expected to go up by nearly 50 percent. All of these factors are expected to drastically increase waiting times for vehicles at railroad crossings, ultimately damaging Columbus’ economy.

During Monday’s meeting of the Columbus Redevelopment Commission, John Dorenbush, a member of the Railroad Community Committee, offered a glimpse of good news. Dorenbush says that, for the first time, the committee is “optimistic” that a proposed project to construct an overpass that would take vehicle traffic over the tracks at State Road 11 and State Road 46 will be approved by the Indiana Department of Transportation.

Dorenbush says that on June 8, representatives from the city, county, INDOT, Cummins, CSX and the Louisville & Indiana Railroad met to discuss the issue. He says that everyone involved is optimistic that the project will be included in INDOT’s five-year plan. The issue, says Dorenbush, is funding. In addition, he says that if the project were approved, it would likely be on the tail-end of the five-year plan, meaning that work wouldn’t begin until approximately 2022. However, Dorenbush opined that the city could help move the project up on the timeline by contributing more that 20-percent of the cost. He noted that most projects like this have a requirement that local municipalities pay 20-percent. Dorenbush suggested that the work could begin earlier if the city were to contribute more than the usual minimum. However, he stressed that he was merely speculating.

Dorenbush says that the same group will be meeting again in a few weeks. If all goes well, he says that he is hopeful that a positive announcement will be made before Independence Day.

Ivy Tech holding enrollment event on Saturday

Jun 19, 2017 72

Ivy Tech Community College is holding a special enrollment event this weekend.

Express Enrollment Day will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday at Ivy Tech Columbus. Event organizers say that Ivy Tech employees will be on hand to help those interested in enrolling at the college. They add that the entire enrollment process can be completed there on this day. School officials say that those attending will be able to:

• Complete the first steps to enroll as a student;
• Get financial aid questions answered;
• Learn about and meet assessment requirements;
• Meet with an advisor;
• Register for the semester;
• And find out about orientation.

You are encouraged to RSVP for Express Enrollment Day online at https://www.ivytech.edu/EEStatewide/index.html or by calling Ivy Tech Columbus at (812) 372-9925.

You should bring an unofficial high school or college transcript and SAT/ACT/PSAT scores to assist with assessment and course placement. If you have already completed some college courses, you are encouraged to bring an official college transcript to have your credits evaluated.

Toyota announces organizational changes

Jun 19, 2017 90

Toyota Material Handling, U.S.A., Inc. has announced several organizational changes for key positions.

Jeff Rufener, company president, says the changes were made in an ongoing effort to improve customer satisfaction. “It is important that we are structured in a way to support our goal,” says Rufener. These changes include:

• Bill Finerty,Vice President of Sales, Distribution and Dealer Development
• Steve Tadd, Director of Marketing and Information Technologies
• Stephen Rosenberg, National Manager of Marketing
• Mike Parker, National Manager of Part Sales and Procurement
• Anne Ewing, National Manager of Dealer Operations
• Brian Liggett, National Manager of Parts Operations
• Mike Heyden, National Manager of Aftermarket Sales and Service
• Jewell Brown, Strategic Account Executive
• Troy Kaiser, Strategic Account Executive
• Niels Ostergaard, Value Selling Manager

Toyota Industrial Equipment is in the midst of another expansion at its Columbus campus on Inwood Drive.

Two wanted men arrested inside of a Columbus store

Jun 19, 2017 63

Ricky A Schoonover; photo courtesy of Columbus Police

Two local men were arrested after they were seen acting suspiciously inside of a Columbus store. Lt. Matt Harris, spokesman for the Columbus Police Department, says that at approximately 12:30 p.m. Saturday, officers were dispatched to the Best Buy in the 1300 block of National Road in regards to a man who entered the store wearing a mask and had a collapsible baton tucked in his waistband. Harris says that store security told police that the man threw the mask on the floor when he was asked to remove it. He then reportedly walked to the back of the store with another man. Officers found the two men a short time later and immediately recognized one of them as 29-year-old Ricky A. Schoonover, of Columbus, who a had a warrant for his arrest. When Schoonover was taken into custody officers allegedly found a small amount of marijuana and methamphetamine in his pants pockets.

Officers also spoke to the other man, whom they described as “acting nervous.” Harris says the man initially gave police a fake name. While he was being patted down by an officer, Harris says the man reached for one of his back pants pockets. He was ultimately identified as 26-year-old Devin C. Kinman, of Columbus. After Kinman was placed in handcuffs, officers reported finding a loaded handgun in one his back pants pockets, as well as the baton.

Devin C Kinman; photo courtesy of Columbus Police

Both Schoonover and Kinman were arrested and booked in the Bartholomew County Jail on 48 hour hold. They are facing preliminary charges of:

Devin C. Kinman:
Possession of a Firearm by a Serious Violent Felon
False Informing
Bartholomew County Arrest Warrant

Ricky A. Schoonover:
Bartholomew County Warrant
Out of County Warrant
Possession of Methamphetamine
Possession of Marijuana

Arson suspect arrested in Columbus

Jun 19, 2017 68

William S. Warner; photo courtesy of Columbus Police

A man wanted in the arson of an abandoned Goodwill store in Tennessee being investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms was arrested in Columbus.

Lt. Matt Harris, spokesman for the Columbus Police Department, says that CPD was notified Friday afternoon that 23-year-old William S. Warner, of Nashville, Tennessee was possibly in the area after his vehicle had been found with a flat tire. Harris says that officers learned that Warner had a warrant for his arrest and was possibly armed with a handgun. At approximately 5:35 p.m. on Friday, Officers Travis Harbaugh and Michael Beerwart located Warner walking on State Road 46. They arrested Warner at gun point and transported him to the Bartholomew County Jail.