Cummins exec praises Columbus Indiana Philharmonic

Aug 25, 2015 529

A Cummins executive is praising the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic for its support of youth programs.

John Wall, vice chairman of the Cummins executive team, said studies show learning is enhanced by exposure to music and he said the identity of the community had been significantly impacted by the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic.

Wall spoke yesterday at the philharmonic’s annual meeting. The orchestra reported that it has committed 20 percent of its 2016 budget to youth programs.

Mark Pilar ended his three-year term as board president by introducing attorney Pete King as the new board president. King announced that Pilar would be the new Columbus Indiana Philharmonic development director and would volunteer his services in that role for the next two years.

The 2015 Gold Baton Award for commitment to the musical arts in the Columbus area was presented to Vanessa Edwards, the philharmonic’s education director and youth orchestra Director.

Machete threats lead to arrest

Aug 24, 2015 551

A 20-year-old Columbus man is under arrest after allegedly tearing up his parents’ home with a machete and threatening to kill his family members over the weekend.

Sgt. Matt Harris, spokesman for the Columbus Police Department, says officers were called to a Pearl Street apartment at about 8:30 a.m. Saturday. A woman called to report that her son had threatened them with the machete. She said that after she and a younger child couldn’t escape out the front door, they barricaded themselves in a room and called for help.

Police heard someone yelling and the sounds of destruction going on inside the apartment, and kicked the door open. After the suspect, 20-year-old Devon N. Vandiver slammed the door closed again, officers fired a Taser through the broken window on the door and subdued Vandiver. A large machete was found near where he was standing.

Vandiver was taken to Columbus Regional Hospital to be checked for a cut to his hand, and then was arrested on preliminary charges of Resisting Law Enforcement, Illegal Consumption, Intimidation with a Deadly Weapon and Criminal Confinement with a Deadly Weapon.

Bicyclist arrested on drug-related charges

Aug 24, 2015 328

A Columbus bicyclist was arrested Sunday on drug-related charges.

Sgt. Matt Harris, with the Columbus Police Department, said that an officer noticed a man riding a bike near 13th Street and Grand Avenue at about 1:50 p.m. Sunday afternoon, while pulling another bicycle behind him.

When police confronted the man, he allegedly looked nervous and then admitted that he had methamphetamine in his pants pocket. Police arrested 50-year-old Roger K. Burton who was also allegedly found to have a glass smoking pipe in his pants pocket. He was wanted on a felony warrant for failing to appear in court on a charge of possession of methamphetamine.

He was arrested on preliminary charges of possession of meth, possession of drug paraphernalia and on the outstanding warrant.

Campaign raises money for Columbus police dog

Aug 24, 2015 378

Columbus police are crediting a national online campaign for raising the money to buy a bulletproof and stab-proof vest for a city police dog, Max.

The department reports that the money came from a nationwide Groupon campaign called “Occasions.” The fundraising drive for police dog vests ran from February through March and raised $335,000 for the vests nationwide. A $10 donation was suggested.

The campaign is buying 1,000 vests for police dogs. The vests are all embroidered with “In Memory of K9 Rocco, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.” Rocco sacrificed his life in the line of duty in January 2014.

You can still make a donation though the campaign’s website at

One person killed in two-vehicle crash in Shelby County

Aug 21, 2015 2329

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a fatal crash involving a passenger van and an SUV that took place Friday morning.

Maj. Louie Koch says that officers arrived on the scene, in the 2200 block of Boggstown Road, just before 8:30 a.m. They reported finding two vehicles that both sustained heavy front-end damage. Authorities say that the driver of van, 23-year-old Mary Walters, of Shelbyville, had been partially ejected and was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the SUV, 42-year-old Jeffrey Hunt, of Shelbyville, suffered undisclosed injuries and was flown to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.

Shelby County authorities say that evidence at the scene indicated that Walters’ van was traveling east on Boggstown Road, when it left the south side of the roadway. As the van returned to the road, investigators say it began to skid out of control, traveling into the west bound lane that Hunt was driving in.

Maj. Koch says that toxicology results are pending and the investigation is ongoing.

Bartholomew County Council continues work on 2016 budget

Aug 21, 2015 656

The Bartholomew County Council continues looking for ways to come up with a 2016 budget that takes care of the core needs of the county.

The council is looking to trim about $4.7 million dollars from the budgets being requested by the county department heads and elected office holders. The council has a goal of a $16.3 million dollar general fund budget. The body must also pay approximately $1.8 million in debt services costs.

Council members heard from Dan Eggermann on Friday afternoon. He is the county’s financial adviser. Eggermann explained that the county has a $3.9 million budget shortfall. He reminded the council that over the past several years, the body has had to cover its budget shortfalls out of cash reserves. When asked what would happen if the county took no action to address the budget shortfalls, Eggermann explained that that the county would be be able to fund an approximately $17 million budget for 2016. However, he adds that the county would be out of money due to recent actions taken to shore up the employees health trust fund, as well as budgeting to pay for the new annex building with cash.

The council will need to make a final decision on whether or not to ask the Bartholomew County Commissioners to delay, or abandon, the annex building project on State Street. Since the county’s largest expense is employee-related, the body will also need to decide if making personnel cuts is necessary. No council members have suggested that at this point, but it is a discussion the council will likely have.

The council will be sitting down with Eggermann again over the next week to try to hammer out a solution.

One person injured in two-vehicle crash on Marr Road

Aug 21, 2015 806

Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Deputies investigated a two-car crash Marr Road Crashon Marr Road at Bridge Pointe Friday morning. The drivers were identified as 57-year-old Samuel Whitehead, 45-year-old Boyce Stattenfield, both of Columbus.

Whitehead told deputies that he was northbound on Marr Road when he stopped to turn west onto Bridge Pointe. He said that while waiting to make the turn, his vehicle was rear-ended by Stattenfield’s vehicle.

Whitehead was alert but complained of pain. He was life-lined to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. Stattenfield reportedly told deputies that he was not injured.

Ethnic Expo parade entrants sought

Aug 21, 2015 458

Organizers of the 32nd annual Ethnic Expo are now accepting entries for the expo parade.

The parade will be Saturday Oct. 10th and it will start at 11 a.m

Parade entry categories include bands, motorized-performing entries, pre-1960 classic cars, classic cars from 1960 to present, community youth groups, community church groups, adult community groups and businesses. Awards will be presented in each category.

The deadline to enter the parade is Friday Sept. 25th. There is no cost to participate.

The 32nd annual Ethnic Expo is presented by First Financial Bank and will be held Friday and Saturday Oct. 9th and 10th in downtown Columbus. The host country this year will be Pakistan.

For more information you can contact the city of Columbus at 812-376-2520

Cummins holding Saturday job fair

Aug 21, 2015 617

Cummins is holding on onsite job-fair tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fuel Systems Plant on Marr Road.

Cummins officials say they are looking to hire support specialists for HVAC, electrician, machine repair and toolmaker. Potential employees need to have at least an associates of applied science degree in a related field with a minimum of two-years experience, or a Department of Labor card, or eight years of experience.

For more information, visit

County struggles with nearly $4 million budget gap

Aug 21, 2015 430

Bartholomew County Council and Commissioners are facing a number of bad options to bridge a nearly $4 million gap in the county’s 2016 budget, ranging from hiring freezes and whittling down the county’s workforce to slowing or halting the construction of a new State Street annex building and increasing the costs of employee healthcare.

While a decision on the State Street Annex is ultimately up to the county commissioners, the county council and other county officials raised concerns about spending money for that project while considering cuts to employee benefits or leaving some positions unfilled.

Commissioners said they need to know within 30 days whether council is asking them to stop the project. And even if it does stop, the county still needs to tear down the former annex building and pay the rent for county offices that have been relocated.

The biggest budget problem is the climbing cost of employee health care. The county is self-insured. County officials say they need to put $5.7 million dollars into the employee health care trust fund next year to cover the costs of employee claims.

Commissioners President Larry Kleinhenz reminded the other county officials that for years, the county underfunded the health care trust fund, but as county employees age, the number of claims continue to go up and to be more expensive.

Barb Hackman, the county auditor, said the county now has about 30 employees over the age of 65.

The council and commissioners tossed around ideas on how to make ends meet in the healthcare area, including offering retirement incentives to older employees, and nearly doubling the employees’ health care premiums while moving to a high-deductible plan.

Kleinhenz said part of the problem is the increase in the number of county employees. He said the county had about 320 employees 20 years ago, but now has more than 380.

The council discussed ways to reduce that number, from seeking voluntary retirements or buyouts to simply not filling open positions. Council President Evelyn Pence suggested that each department with open positions undergo a Six Sigma program to identify whether positions are actually needed before they are refilled.

The council told county maintenance supervisor Rick Trimpe not to fill a vacant position he has open, due to concerns over next year’s budget problems. Trimpe asked whether the hiring freeze would also apply to open positions in the sheriff’s department.

Sheriff Matt Myers, who was in the audience, took exception to the question, saying that his employees are directly responsible for public safety and deal with criminals every day. He said employee shortages in the sheriff’s department put people’s lives at risk.

Myers is not asking for new employees this year, but does want to make a part-time position into a full-time jail worker, because of increasing requirements that the jail fill out a 35-page Medicaid application for each inmate who stays for more than 30 days.

But, Myers warned the council that in upcoming years he plans to seek more deputies to provide the services he says are needed for public safety. And if the county will not approve the positions, he plans to begin cutting extraneous operations occupying deputies time, such as the DARE program or overseeing county jail inmates who are providing free lawn mowing services for the county.

Some county officials say the county needs more revenue.

Councilman Mark Gorbett, the former county sheriff, said he would propose a new public safety tax rate, which would be added to local income taxes. The tax would generate about $1.9 million a year for law enforcement by increasing the county income tax from 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent, council members said.

Councilman Jim Reed also urged the county commissioners to consider instituting a cumulative capital development fund to pay for building projects. The increase to property taxes would allow an account to be set up that could carry over from year to year and in four years, the county would have enough cash to pay for a county annex building. But Commissioners President Kleinhenz said he would not support any attempt to raise property taxes.

The council will reconvene this morning to consider its options.