Hope hosting Halloween Haunted Hallows

Oct 20, 2015 279

The Bartholomew County Historical Society will be holding a Halloween celebration, Hope’s Haunted Hallows, from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday on the Hope Town Square.

Activities will include a Wizard of Oz puppet show, mad scientist demonstrations, historic fortune telling games, a cabinet of curiosities, Night at the Yellow Trail Museum tours, fall-themed games and crafts.

There will be a trick-or-treating parade at 6 p.m. Food will be for sale and all proceeds will benefit the Historical Society’s educational programming.

For more information, www.bartholomewhistory.org

Vandalism report turns into Taser incident

Oct 20, 2015 276

Columbus police had to use a Taser to subdue a North Vernon man allegedly caught spray painting a bench.

Officer Maren Crabtree spotted a man spray painting a bench near a home in the 2700 block of 19th Street Friday evening about 6:45 p.m.

When she confronted the man, he appeared nervous, admitted he didn’t live at the address and then allegedly ran away.

Officers tracked him down to a bush where he was trying to hide. After allegedly refusing to show his hands, he was hit with the Taser.

40-year-old Keith J. Gilbert of North Vernon was arrested on preliminary charges of criminal mischief and resisting law enforcement. He was also wanted on two warrants for failing to appear in court on charges of resisting law enforcement.

Deputy chosen as new county IT director

Oct 20, 2015 278

Bartholomew County is turning to a sheriff’s deputy as the new head of its information technology department.

County Commissioners approved Deputy Jeff Wehmiller as the news head of the IT department Monday morning. Wehmiller has been with the county for about 13 years, including time as a jail officer and 11 years as a deputy. Commissioners said that Wehmiller has acted almost as a sixth IT person for the county, and has unofficially been keeping the sheriff’s department computers running for several years.

The IT department is shrinking from five people to four in the face of budget cuts.

Finding IT workers for the county has been challenging commissioners said because it is hard to compete with pay and benefits in the private sector.

Hope reaches agreement with fire department

Oct 20, 2015 256

The Hope Town Council and the town’s volunteer firefighters quietly ended a months-long dispute last night, as the town signed an agreement to allow the fire department to be paid up to $69,000 this year.

The fire department has gone without payment from the town for its expenses since the start of the year.

The town leadership refused to sign a contract with the fire department this year because they did not want any of the town money to go to a legal fight between the fire department and its contractor over payments for a new fire station on the east side of the town.

Firefighters voted 9-1 last week to approve a new agreement offered by the town that blocks funding for the new station.

Man accused of fleeing one crash, crashing again

Oct 20, 2015 261

A Columbus man was arrested after allegedly leaving the scene of one car crash and then trying to leave the scene of a second.

Sgt. Matt Harris with the Columbus Police Department said officers were called to State and Mapleton streets at about 2:38 p.m. Friday on a report that a Ford Explorer had been involved in a crash and left the scene.

On their way to that crash site, officers received word of another crash involving the same vehicle a few blocks away at Illinois and Gladstone avenues.

Witnesses at the scene of that crash kept the driver from leaving. 46-year-old Raul R. Jimenez was arrested on preliminary charges of leaving the scene of a crash involving an injury and operating a vehicle without ever receiving a license.

The driver of a car in the second crash was taken to Columbus Regional Hospital with minor injuries.

Bridge inspections starts today in downtown Columbus

Oct 20, 2015 240

Indiana Department of Transportation’s bi-annual bridge inspection of the Robert Stewart bridge on State Road 46 at Second Street over East Fork White River in Columbus begins this morning.

Various lanes will be closed from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and again tomorrow. INDOT says that today, the right lane and right turn lane will be closed, while the center and left lanes remain open. On Wednesday, the center and left lanes will be closed

There will be construction barrels and arrow boards in the area to direct traffic.

Discussions continue on former Walesboro airport site

Oct 19, 2015 399

An engineering firm working with the city of Columbus needs to sit down and talk with shareholders about the test track at the former site of the Walesboro Airport.

The Columbus Redevelopment Commission met Monday night to discuss the development of that site. Doug Pacheco, who serves as a consultant for the city through the end of this year, says that HWC Engineering, based in Indianapolis, needs to talk to representatives of Cummins, Faurecia and others, who utilize the track for various reasons. He says that the discussions will help the city determine how the area should be marketed and how critical the track is to the site.

Redevelopment Commission member Russ Poling, who works at Cummins, explained that the track is very important to the diesel engine manufacturer. He explained that the track, an oval with a straightaway in the middle, allows Cummins to test engines a variety of ways and in a variety of conditions. Poling also told the body that Cummins had recently went to considerable expense to resurface half of the track. Talking about its overall importance, he opined that the company would prefer the track was even bigger.

Poling went on to say that along with Cummins and Faurecia, other groups also utilize the track. He said these include the Columbus Police Department, who uses it for officer training, as well as defensive-driving for area teens, and the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation. BCSC uses the track to test its buses, said Poling.

Pacheco said that meeting with stakeholders is scheduled for late Tuesday afternoon. The Redevelopment Commission is expected to hear an update at its next meeting, scheduled for November 16, though it is possible that a special meeting will be called prior to that.

County awards bid for destruction of old annex

Oct 19, 2015 283

Bartholomew County is going ahead with plans to tear down the former county annex and State Street school building in the former East Columbus.

The County Commissioners approved a bid of $99,870 this morning to pay Demolition Excavating Inc. of Illinois to demolish the building.

Charlie Day, who is advising the county on the issue, said that the company’s bid seemed to be in order but the county needed to get some documentation in place such as a performance bond before the company could get underway. He estimated the work would start in a few weeks and the contract called for it to be finished in 60 days after it starts.

Four displaced after Saturday night fire

Oct 19, 2015 296

Four people are homeless in Columbus after an electrical fire Saturday night on Pearl Street.

Capt. Mike Wilson with the Columbus Fire Department says that a tenant at the apartments in the 800 block of Pearl Street was getting ready to go to bed at about 10:16 p.m.when he noticed the ceiling of his kitchen was turning an odd color and heat was coming from the area.

Firefighters discovered burnt electrical wires around a ceiling light fixture and then found flames in the attic space above the apartment. Two beams had caught fire and after dousing the flames, firefighters used a chainsaw to cut out the damaged wood.

Wilson said the firefighters also had to disconnect the electricty to the home, making it uninhabitable. Four of the six apartments were occupied at the time of the fire and the Red Cross assisted three of the residents, while the fourth went to stay with family.

Early voting at centers to start next week

Oct 19, 2015 298

Early voting at the city vote centers starts next week in Columbus but you can already cast your ballot at the county courthouse.

The early voting center at Donner Center will be open Monday, Oct. 26th through Friday Oct. 30th, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.. There will be early voting hours at Donner Center, Main Source Bank on Jonathan Moore Pike and Grace Lutheran Church on Saturday, Oct. 31st from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Bartholomew County Courthouse is already open for early voting from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. The courthouse will have Saturday hours from 8a.m. to 3 p.m. starting this Saturday and continuing on Oct. 31st. Early voting concludes on Nov. 2nd, the day before the election, from 8 a.m. to noon at the courthouse.

The general election for Columbus is on Tuesday, Nov. 3rd but there are very few contested races on the ballot. Republican Jim Lienhoop is running unopposed for mayor, as is Clerk Treasurer Luann Welmer. City council members Tim Shuffett, Frank Miller and Frank Jerome are also unopposed.

Incumbent Republican councilman Dascal Bunch is running against Democrat Chris Rutan for the council seat representing mostly East Columbus. Incumbent Ryan Brand is facing Democrat Elaine Wagner for the seat representing the downtown area. There is a three-way race for the two at-large-seats on the council with incumbent Republican Kenny Whipker, running against fellow Republican Lori Booher and Democrat Tom Dell.