Christmas trees coming to City Hall, Commons

Nov 18, 2015 294

Columbus city crews and Franks Tree Service on Friday will be harvesting the Christmas trees donated by local residents to decorate City Hall and The Commons,

Michael Nolting, spokesman for the city, says the 22-foot blue spruce that will decorate City Hall is being donated by Lee Ann Mitchell of Yellowood Court. She said she is donating the tree in memory of her late husband Greg, who died unexpectedly this fall from liver cancer.

Shelley and Jerry Coomer of North Gladstone Avenue are donating a 15-foot tall blue spruce that will be displayed at The Christmas Village at The Commons. Nolting said the family has decorated the tree for many years, but it finally got too big for the family to handle.

East Columbus without power this morning

Nov 18, 2015 363

Duke Energy is reporting that 1,017 Columbus customers are without power this morning. The affected area stretches from Mapleton to Clifty Drive in East Columbus. There’s no word yet on what caused the outage but the company is estimating power will be restored by 9 a.m.

City and Aviation Board to hold joint meeting to discuss Walesboro site

Nov 17, 2015 398

The Columbus Redevelopment Commission is holding a special joint meeting Thursday afternoon with the city’s Board of Aviation Commissioners to discuss the city’s plans for the infrastructure and marketing of a proposed research & development / industrial park in Walesboro.

The city and the Aviation Board are working together to sell and develop approximately 470 acres of the former airport site. The aviation board currently controls use of the property. Any sale of the acreage is subject to the approval of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and U.S. Department of Defense. Airport Board Chairman Caleb Tennis says that he expects both groups to give approval to the plan.

Mayor Kristen Brown, who will be replaced by City Councilman Jim Lienhoop in January, have been exchanging words via local media, as well as social media, about how the project is being handled. Mayor Brown, in response to comments made by Lienhoop in the local newspaper, invited him to attend Thursday’s meeting to contribute to the process. Lienhoop declined, citing prior commitments.

Thursday’s meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. inside City Hall. You are encouraged to attend.

Muscatatuck Refuge holding Open House this weekend

Nov 17, 2015 296

The second annual Nature Store Open House will be held at the Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center this weekend. Visitor Center Spokesperson Donna Stanley says the Open House will be held on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. She says the Open House will feature big discounts on the non-profit stores merchandise, along with refreshments and a children’s craft.

Stanley says the Muscatatuck Nature Store has wonderful educational items including wildlife guides, children’s books, and all kinds of holiday gifts and stocking stuffers for nature lovers of all ages. She adds that all proceeds from Nature Store sales go to the Muscatatuck Wildlife Society and benefit the programs of Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge. Stanley went on to say that Muscatatuck Wildlife Society members receive a 10% discount of store merchandise.

For more information on this Open House, call (812) 524-1953.

Columbus City Council considering whether chickens can be kept within city limits

Nov 17, 2015 436

Chickens are not yet allowed to be kept inside of Columbus City limits, but there is a chance that an ordinance change may allow them in the near-future. However, any potential changes won’t be addressed for another three months.

The Columbus City Council heard arguments from both sides of the issue during its meeting Tuesday night. Back in August, the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) reversed a decision made last spring by a Code Enforcement Officer citing a pair residents for having the birds within city limits. In overturning that decision, the BZA also said that city residents could keep up to four chickens as pets. Under the ordinance, as written, farm animals can only be kept if the property they are on is in excess of five-acres. At issue is the designation “farm animals” versus “domestic animals.” Some owners of chickens say that their birds are pets, just like a cat or a dog. The BZA said they were hopeful that the City Council would address the issue to determine whether or not chickens could be considered domestic animals.

The Council ultimately decided to take the matter under advisement. The members said that they would hold further discussions on the matter, with plans to officially address the issue by late February. Once that is concluded and they have more input from the community, the Council, which will feature three new members, as well as a new Mayor, will decide how to move forward.

Off-duty officer helps take an alleged drunk-driver off the road

Nov 17, 2015 414

An alert off-duty Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department Detective helped take an alleged drunk-driver off the street.

Sheriff’s Department Spokesperson Judy Jackson says that just after 10 JULIAN CORY MICHAELp.m. on Monday, Detective Sgt. Chad Swank advised dispatchers of a possible intoxicated driver. She says that Sgt. Swank followed the suspect’s vehicle until Sgt. Jim Stevens was able to intercept it. Deputy Adam Warner initiated a traffic stop which lead to the arrest of 34-year-old Cory Julian, of Hope.

Officials with the Sheriff’s Department say that, despite several warnings, Julian engaged in “disruptive behavior” that also led to him being charged with Disorderly Conduct. Jackson says that Julian was booked in the Bartholomew County Jail on $11,000 bond.

Prisoner loose in Downtown Columbus

Nov 17, 2015 1206
Dustin Evans

Dustin Evans

Authorities in Bartholomew County are searching for an escaped prisoner. Edinburgh Police Chief David Mann says that 26-year-old Dustin Evans escaped from an Edinburgh Police Officer in the area of Eighth Street and Central Avenue in Columbus on Tuesday morning.

Mann says that the Officer initially took Evans to the jail, but jail staff refused to accept him due to his medical condition. He says the officer then took Evans to Columbus Regional Hospital to be checked out by medical staff. Once he was released from the hospital, the officer was taking Evans back to the jail when the prisoner complained about getting sick. Mann says the officer pulled over, let Evans out to vomit, then put him back in the patrol car. Mann says Evans got out of the car moments later due to the door not being locked.  Evans reportedly ran through a pair of houses and the officer lost sight oh him.

Evans is a white male, five-feet, five-inches tall and weighs about 160 pounds. He has tattoos on his temple, neck and shoulder. Evans was last seen wearing a grey hoodie, red shirt and blue shorts. He was also in handcuffs.

Evans is wanted on drug-related charges. If you see him, police say you should call 911.

Scammers fake state police phone ID

Nov 17, 2015 309

Indiana State Police want to warn you that scammers have spoofed a state police phone number and tried to convince people to send in money to pay for past due taxes or face being jailed.

A person notified the Indiana State Police Monday morning that he received a phone call from 812-867-2079 and the person calling identified himself as a police officer. The caller further explained that he owed taxes and that if he didn’t pay he would be arrested. State Police say this is a common scam and Indiana State Police are not calling residents about their unpaid taxes.

Police say that if you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, you should report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1-800-366-4484.

Hope to make first fire payments this year

Nov 17, 2015 538

The town of Hope is making the first payments for its fire service this year, agreeing last night to pay about $33,362 in bills for the volunteer department.

But town officials balked at paying for supplies related to a countywide fish fry held at Hauser High School. Last month, the town and the fire department resolved an ongoing dispute that had led the town to hold up funding the fire department all of this year. But the town only agreed to pay the department’s bills directly rather than giving the money directly to the fire department.

Last night the council considered the first of those payments, of about $37,600. But council member said they were opposed to a set of bills related to the fish fry fundraiser. Most agreed that the fire department should pay for the $4,200 in supplies out of the fish fry proceeds rather than ask taxpayers to foot the bill.

The council approved the other bills, pending proper invoices.

Columbus restaurant falls prey to utility scam

Nov 16, 2015 555

A Columbus restaurant was swindled out of $400 in a scam where the con-artists pretended to be employees of Duke Energy.

Columbus Police Department Spokesman Sgt. Matt Harris says the officers are investigating a report from the business. According to the report, at about noon on Saturday, a man wearing a Duke Energy jacket entered the restaurant and made contact with an employee before leaving a short time later. Approximately 45 minutes later, the business owner received a phone call from a woman who advised that the business was behind on its electric bill and that the electricity was going to be shut off if an agreement was not reached.

The owner told police that the caller sounded legitimate and had his personal account information. The caller convinced the business owner to use a prepaid card to pay $400, a portion of the amount owed. After later speaking with a member of Duke Energy management, the owner learned she was a victim of a scam.

“Legitimate businesses do not operate in this fashion” said Sgt. Harris. “Scammers use high pressure tactics and fear that can make a rational person fall victim to this type of fraud.” He went on to say, “Never give out personal information during an unsolicited phone call and report suspicious activity to law enforcement.” Both CPD and Duke Energy say that if you have a question about the status of your electric bill, Duke Energy can be contacted at 1-800- 521-2232.