Police seek info in stolen credit card case

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Photo courtesy of Columbus Police Department.

Police in two area cities are looking for your help to crack a stolen credit card case. Columbus and Franklin police have released photos of a man they say used a stolen credit card at a Franklin convenience store, but the card was actually stolen from Columbus.

If you have any information about the suspect you can contact Franklin Police Detective Ray Tice at 317-346-1143.

Photo courtesy of Columbus Police.

County adopts plan to balance budget with new income tax

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Bartholomew County will use a good chunk of the revenues from the recently enacted income tax hike to patch a hole in next year’s county budget.

County officials were looking at almost a $1.7 million dollar deficit for next year, before the tax was enacted.

This week the County Council agreed to move an entire department out of the general fund and to pay for it out of the income tax revenues, balancing next year’s budget in one swoop.

Council President Laura DeDomenic made the proposal to pay for the youth services department, which has a budget of about $1.6 million dollars, out of the new income tax revenue slated for public safety.

DeDomenic said she went looking for a department that was small enough to fit the fund but also public safety related. The jail, sheriff’s department, courts and others were too big to pay out of just income tax revenues, she said.

One of her goals was to not split a department budget across multiple revenue sources.


DeDomenic also proposed spending about $300,000 out of the public safety income tax dollars to support the 911 system. That would take up about $2 million of the estimated $2.3 million public safety fund, she said.

The income tax increase is expected to bring in more than $4.4 million dollars to the county with just over half slated for public safety. The rest will be used for capital projects and possible funding of efforts to stem the opiate drug epidemic. Plans for that spending are still being developed.

Trooper released from hospital after being shot in the head

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The suspect’s bullet riddled vehicle after the shooting of a State Police trooper Tuesday in Jeffersonville. Photo courtesy of Indiana State Police.

Trooper Morgenn Evans. Photo courtesy of Indiana State Police

An Indiana State Police trooper is out of the hospital and recovering after being shot in the head Tuesday evening in southern Indiana. State police spokesman Sgt. Jerry Goodin released photos of the wound caused by the bullet that grazed Trooper Morgenn Evans forehead when he was fired at while making a traffic stop in Jeffersonville.

Another photo shows the pickup driven by the suspect, 79-year-old Oscar Kays, which appears to be riddled with bullets around the drivers side.

Police say Kays was found at his home and taken into custody without incident. Goodin said that Kays appears to have been shot in the incident, but police are not yet saying whether he was shot by Trooper Evans or by his own gun.

A bullet grazed the forehead of an Indiana State Police trooper during a Tuesday shootout in Jeffersonville. Indiana State Police photo.

Goodin says that Evans was released from University of Louisville Hospital yesterday and is expected to make a full recovery.

CFD investigating “suspicious” vehicle fire

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Photo courtesy of Columbus Fire Dept.

The Columbus Fire Department is investigating a suspicious vehicle fire. Capt. Mike Wilson, spokesman for the department, says that firefighters responded to to the 2100 block of Home Ave at approximately 8 p.m. Tuesday. They arrived to find a passenger truck fire with heavy flames in the truck bed. Wilson says that the truck, an older model Ford, was parked about 10 feet from a home and just feet away from another vehicle. Firefighters say the truck was a complete loss. In addition, they say that the fire also damaged overhead utility lines. The nearby vehicle and home itself did not sustain damages. No injuries were reported.

Investigators say the truck bed was filled with trash, carpet, cardboard boxes, a wooden end table and other combustible items. Investigators note that the truck was parked near a public alleyway connecting Home Avenue to Union Street. Wilson says that the department is considering this a “suspicious fire.”

If you have any information about this fire, you are asked to call CFD at (812) 376-2679.

Head-on crash claims lives of two North Vernon residents

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Two Jennings County residents were killed in a head-on collision Tuesday night in Jefferson County. Sgt. Stephen Wheeles, spokesman for Indiana State Police, says that Troopers responded to the crash on State Road 256 near County Road 1000 West at about 9:30 p.m.

Wheeles says the initial investigation indicates that a car driven by 34-year-old Joshua C. Hendrix, of North Vernon, was traveling eastbound on State Road 256 near County Road 1000 West in Jefferson County. Police believe that Hendrix’s vehicle crossed the center double yellow line while attempting to pass another vehicle. Hendrix’s car entered into the path of a westbound car driven by 28-year-old Trisha M. Ebertshauser, of Scottsburg, colliding head-on.

ISP says that Hendrix’s vehicle traveled off the south side of the roadway and came to rest before catching fire. Ebertshauser’s vehicle traveled off the north side of the roadway and came to rest. Joshua Hendrix and a front seat passenger, 27-year-old Amanda J. Hendrix, of North Vernon, were pronounced deceased at the scene by the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office.

Ebertshauser sustained life threatening injuries in the crash. She was flown from the scene to the University of Louisville Hospital for treatment. A backseat passenger in Ebertshauser’s vehicle, 19-year-old Michael A. Riggs, of Bedford, Kentucky, was flown to the University of Louisville Hospital for treatment of serious injuries. The front seat passenger in Ebertshauser’s vehicle, 23-year-old Rebecca S. Roberts, of Scottsburg, was transported to King’s Daughter Hospital in Madison for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

The investigation is ongoing.

Pennsylvania man sentenced for fatal crash

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A Pennsylvania man is heading to prison for four years, after a Jennings County accident last year where he was stuck in a car wreck for days with his dead girlfriend’s body.

WHAS 11 TV in Louisville is reporting that 40-year-old Kevin Bell was sentenced Tuesday after pleading guilty in Jennings Circuit Court to Driving while Suspended Causing Death.

In September of 2016, Bell crashed the car he was driving into a ravine off of U.S. 50 in Jennings County, killing his girlfriend 37-year-old Nikki Reed, of Seymour. Bell said he was trapped in the wreckage for days. He was found on the side of the road with a broken leg, carrying two bowling balls and other belongings.

Driver arrested after early morning police stop

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Columbus police arrested a driver early this morning who was driving intoxicated at more than twice the legal limit.

Police saw a car weaving across the centerline at about 3:15 this morning near 25th Street and U.S. 31 says Lt Matt Harris, spokesman for the Columbus police. When officers pulled the driver over, he hit a curb, bending the wheel rim and deflating a tire. The driver, 31-year-old Travis L. Castetter of Columbus, had slurred speech and smelled strongly of alcohol, police report.

He failed several field sobriety tests and tested at a blood alcohol content of .216, Harris says. Castetter was arrested on a preliminary charge of operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of higher than .15 percent.

Cheer Fund needs volunteers for Saturday deliveries

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It is almost time for Columbus firefighters and volunteers to deliver Christmas cheer for the needy children in our community.

Capt. Mike Wilson, spokesman for the Fire Department, says that the Columbus Firemens Cheer Fund deliveries will begin Saturday morning and they are looking for community volunteers to help make deliveries around Bartholomew County.

Wilson says the process to load up the toys and get them delivered on that morning has become very efficient over the years.

The Cheer Fund Deliveries will start at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning at the center at 1531 13th Street.

Wilson said drivers will begin lining up hours ahead of time.

Fire Chief Mike Compton said some volunteers are building an entire family tradition around being one of the first in line Saturday.

Firefighters announced yesterday that for the first time, every child who asked for a bicycle from the Cheer Fund will be able to receive a new one.

The Cheer Fund is the oldest charity in Bartholomew County, operating for 87 years. More than 600 families and 1,200 children will receive deliveries this year, Wilson said.

Columbus police: Protect yourself from phone scams

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With the Christmas season upon us, it is also a time for scammers to try to take your holiday funds away. Columbus Police are warning that you should keep your wits about you so you can keep your finances safe.

This is on the heels of a Columbus woman’s loss of thousands of dollars to scammers who called claiming to be with the federal government. The scammers sound very believable, says Lt Matt Harris with the Columbus Police Department.

The scammers can fool your Caller ID, making the call appear to be coming from a legitimate number.

Warning signs of a phone scam include the caller insisting you pay immediately over the phone or suffer consequences. And scammers will frequently ask you to purchase gift cards or pre-paid debit cards for the payment.  If you receive such a call, he recommends simply hanging up and contacting law enforcement.

Harris said he could think of no legitimate business or law enforcement agency that would ever ask you to pay a debt immediately with the purchase of gift cards.


Ivy Tech students lead drive to aid community homeless

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Ivy Tech Community College Columbus campus leadership students, churches and other organizations have donated welcoming bags and socks to be given to new arrivals at the Brighter Days Housing emergency shelter.

The welcome bags included essential toiletries and a pen and pad of paper for journaling.

Ivy Tech spokesman Chris Schilling says that the project was put together by the Columbus campus of the National Society of Leadership and Success.

Donations for the 120 bags were made by Bethel Holiness Church, Trinity Lutheran School Robotics Class, the Ivy Tech Columbus ASAP faculty and students, the Caring Place, Edinburgh Methodist Church and the Ivy Tech School of Nursing.

Brighter Days is the shelter operated on the east side of Columbus by the Columbus Township Trustee and Love Chapel. It offers shelter and housing assistance to homeless Bartholomew County residents.