Utility room fire causes $5k in damages

Jul 24, 2017 53

Columbus firefighters battled a blaze at a home on the north side of the city yesterday. The utility room fire caused about $5,000 in damage to the home in the 4100 block of North Riverside Drive.

Capt. Mike Wilson, spokesman for the fire department,said crews were called to the home, which was under remodelling. at about 5:10 p.m. yesterday afternoon. The homeowner said he and a family member were trying to start a vent-less fireplace at the home and thought that might be the source of the fire. Instead, they  found that the smoke was coming from the basement.

Firefighters discovered the fire had started near a dehumidifier and it was quickly extinguished before spreading. The basement suffered smoke damage, Wilson said.

Little library takes off in downtown Columbus

Jul 24, 2017 66

Jessica Murnane and Stephan Jilbert set up a Little Free Library on Sycamore Street in downtown Columbus recently. White River Broadcasting photo.

Little Free Library in the 1100 block of Sycamore Street. White River Broadcasting photo

Itty bitty libraries are popping up around Columbus. The newest is in the 1100 block of Sycamore Street. The libraries are small bookshelves mounted in a box in front of homes and stuffed with books that people can borrow.

Jessica Murnane, organizer of the Sycamore St. Little Free Library, says that the idea is to spread the love of reading and to share good books. She is providing books for the library out of her own collection:

Murnane said she will also accept donations to help supplement her own donations. She tries to keep a rotation of a variety of books in the little library.

Murnane and her husband, Stephan Jilbert, set up their library earlier this month. He said they have had a good response so far.

Murnane said they can’t take credit for the idea as they saw many when they lived in Chicago.

Other local little libraries are on 25th Street near North High School and across from the Ninth Street Park.

You can find more information on the Sycamore Street little library on Facebook, including the newest books available on the tiny shelf. Search for Sycamore Street Little Free LIbrary.

North Vernon’s move to solar to include cost savings

Jul 21, 2017 138

North Vernon’s efforts to switch city facilities from conventional electric to solar-power will result in more cost savings than originally anticipated. Months ago, the city council authorized Mayor Mike Ochs to execute the documents allowing the change if financing was able to be established. The city has been working with Johnson-Melloh Solutions, an energy service company, to formulate a proposal. City officials say that Johnson-Melloh was a driving force in getting the Jennings County Public Library switched over to solar years ago.

Shawn Gerkin, clerk-treasurer for North Vernon, explains that the city had to walk a tight-rope to obtain funding. He says that the language of the contract for financing had to be specific in order to be in compliance with a state statute that allows municipalities to enter into an “energy savings contract” without it being considered debt for the city. Gerkin gives high praise to Kevin Gabbard, his team at MainSource Bank and their attorney’s from Barnes & Thornburg for their help in obtaining financing for the project. While Gerkin says the entire ordeal has been a lot of work for him and other city officials, he called the end result “historic,” so far as it comes with Indiana banks getting involved with projects such as these.

Gerkin explains that under the deal, no more than $5.399 million will be financed at a rate of 2.45 percent. The term of the loan is 16.5 years with the first payment from the city due 18 months after closing the loan. City officials are hopeful that the loan will be closed on Aug. 1. Gerkin stresses that these loan payments will be paid for completely out of money already set aside and appropriated for conventional electricity costs. In addition, he says that the city was anticipating an interest rate of approximately 3.65 percent. Thanks to MainSource officials and the work of the city, Gerkin says that the city will save over $600,000 over the length of the loan on interest alone.

City official say that once the loan is secured, work on switching over to solar power can begin shortly thereafter.

CRH warns of phishing scam

Jul 21, 2017 168

Columbus Regional Health is warning area residents about a phishing scam. Kelsey DeClue, hospital spokeswoman, says that a scam phone call may come from a number masked as a Columbus Regional Health telephone number under the guise of discussing financial or service related inquires. The caller then attempts to get personal information.

DeClue says that when official representatives of Columbus Regional Health contact patients, they first identify themselves, then provides the pertinent patient information on file directly for verification. She stresses that CRH representatives do not ask for or discuss personal information over the phone without first verifying the reason for the call by stating the date-of-service in question.

If you have questions or suspicions regarding a recent contact for information from Columbus Regional Health, DeClue urges you to call (800) 841-4938 or local law enforcement.

CRH officials talk about plans for Clarion site

Jul 21, 2017 182

Columbus Regional Health officials are opening up a bit on plans for the former Clarion Hotel and Conference Center on Jonathan Moore Pike on the city’s west side. Kelsey DeClue is public relations coordinator for the hospital. She says that Columbus’ west side has been growing.

DeClue says the site is a great fit for CRH.

DeClue says that the entire structure will need to be torn down and a new facility built in its place.

While a structure will be rebuilt, DeClue says that CRH is not prepared at this time to divulge its plans for the site.

DeClue says that CRH is reaching out to former Clarion employees about possible employment opportunities.

For more on potential employment opportunities, visit crh.org.

Southern Shelby County roadwork increases

Jul 21, 2017 125

More road work will be happening on State Road 252 through southern Shelby County starting on Saturday, weather permitting. State Road 252 is already closed between Interstate 65 and Flat Rock while they repair bridges and culverts.

INDOT will be digging up and repaving the highway between the town of Flat Rock and the Flat Rock River’s Lewis Creek bridge.

Milestone is the state’s contractor for INDOT’s $12 million rehabilitation project that is widening and reconstructing or resurfacing seven miles of State Road 252 between Interstate 65 and Flat Rock.

More arrests made in drug-loaded candy investigation

Jul 21, 2017 136

A Wednesday night arrest of a Columbus man on drug-dealing charges led to a chain of drug related arrests and a source of drug-tainted candy in the community, according to local law enforcement.

Parker Broady; photo courtesy of Columbus Police

The Bartholomew County Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team reports that 21-year-old Parker R. Broady was arrested by Columbus police Wednesday after a traffic stop revealed drugs in his vehicle.

JNET reports this morning that Broady was arrested shortly after leaving a house that has been under investigation for drug activity. They had been investigating the home in the 800 block of McClure Road after complaints from residents about possible drug activity.

Police say that marijuana, Xanax pills and LSD were being sold from the home.  The drug-tainted “XanieTarts” candies were also involved, according to authorities.

A search warrant was served last night at the home. 18-year-old Darrion G. Phillips, 18-year-old Terrell A. Davis, and a 17-year-old juvenile were arrested.

Charges included:

Darrion G. Phillips. Photo courtesy of Columbus police.


  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
  • Possession of a Controlled Substance (LSD)
  • Maintaining a Common Nuisance
  • Possession of Marijuana
  • Illegal Possession of Alcohol


  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
  • Illegal Possession of Alcohol
  • Visiting a Common Nuisance
  • Terrell Davis. Photo courtesy of Columbus police.

    Possession of Marijuana

JNET detectives were assisted by officers from the Columbus police Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving Unit, K-9 Division and uniformed officers.

The investigation into the sale of illegal drugs in Columbus and Bartholomew County continues.

The Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team is a combined unit of the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Office, the Columbus Police Department and the Bartholomew County Prosecutor’s Office, targeting the manufacturing and abuse of drugs in Columbus and Bartholomew County.

Utility department plans better communications for future

Jul 21, 2017 79

The Columbus City Utilities department is putting new communication procedures in place after last month’s citywide boil water advisory.

Officials say that there was some confusion and breakdowns as they worked to alert the public to a well that tested positive for e-coli.

Keith Reeves, the city utilities director, says that the city is taking several steps to improve those communications.

Among the changes will be a plan to bring employees in to answer phones no matter the hour, better communication with restaurants, the food service industry and emergency officials, and putting web templates and other procedures in place in advance so that they are ready to go as soon as needed.

Reeves updated the Utilities Services Board on the problems encountered and the proposed solutions at a monthly meeting yesterday.

The utilities department believes they have found the source of the e-coli contamination. A video inspection of the well revealed that corrosion in the well casing left small holes in the tainted well near the Bartholomew County 4-Fairgrounds.

Reeves said that the corrosion appears to have allowed water close to the surface to enter the well,causing contamination.

The affected well is one of 18 the city operates. Despite the hot weather and the increased water usage during the summer, Reeves said that the city has plenty of water from the other wells.

City officials stress that the public was never in danger and that the positive readings came before the water had been treated with chlorine.

Reeves said that the initial positive test of the distribution system turned out to be a false positive. But that fluke led the department to test its wells, which led to the discovery of actual e-coli in the tainted well.

City to celebrate 100 years of Donner Park

Jul 20, 2017 136

The city of Columbus is celebrating a big milestone on Saturday. Carly Freeman with Columbus Parks and Rec explains…

Saturday’s event runs from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. inside of Donner Park. Freeman says that there will be plenty of activities, including face-painting, an obstacle course and magic show.

Later that evening…

You are encouraged to take part in these free offerings.

Chip sealing of U.S. 31 begins next week in Seymour

Jul 20, 2017 97

Indiana Department of Transportation maintenance crews will chip seal 28 lane miles of U.S. Highway 31 in Jackson and Scott counties, beginning next week. INDOT says that the work is scheduled to take place on July 27th. July 31st and August 1st, with the work dependent on the weather.

The schedule calls for the work to begin July 27th when the north-south highway will close at the U.S. 50 intersection at Seymour while crews apply surface treatment. Operations will progress southward toward State Road 256 at Austin with flaggers directing traffic around moving work-sites. The following Monday and Tuesday, chip seal activities will continue on U.S. 31 between U.S. 50 and Industrial Parkway at Austin. No application will be made through Crothersville.

INDOT says that chip seal applications are highly cost-effective, as every one-dollar spent saves $6 to $14 in subsequent expenditures.