North Vernon officers honored for preventing suicide

Mar 12, 2015 741

Two officers with the North Vernon Police Department were honored by their City Council this week.

Mayor Harold “Soup” Campbell said that last August, Sgt. Keith Messer and Officer Scott Willis were called to a disturbance at a business on Walnut Street. When they arrived, the pair encountered a mentally disturbed man who was threatening suicide with a “mechanical device.”

Mayor Campbell says the officers worked together to disarm the man without allowing him to cause harm to himself. Sgt. Messer and Officer Willis were both presented pins at the council meeting and received a standing ovation for their work.

East Fork White River floods in Jackson County

Mar 12, 2015 1054

A flood warning issued by the National Weather Service in Indianapolis continues for portions of East Fork White River and Muscatatuck River in Jackson County.

Heavy rainfall of 1 to 3 inches is possible tonight through Saturday morning and rivers are expected to reach their highest levels since December of 2013.

The flooding is expected to affect low agricultural lands, river parks and some local and state roads. The East Fork White River was at 14.72 feet in Seymour this morning, which is a minor flood stage. It is expected to peak at 17 feet, moderate flood stage, by Sunday according to U.S. Geological Survey river gauges.

Here in Columbus, East Fork White River is expected to peak at about 7 feet on Sunday. That’s two feet below flood stage.

Suspect shot after Decatur County gun battle

Mar 12, 2015 942

A wanted felon is being treated at an Indianapolis hospital after being shot last night in a gun battle with Indiana State Police and U.S. marshals.

State Police Trooper Tommy Walker says that officers from the two agencies were trying to serve felony arrest warrants on a suspect in southeastern Decatur County at around 5 p.m. last night. But the suspect ran into the woods and disappeared. Officers combed the woods but after several hours without finding the suspect police began to scale back their search. That’s when the wanted man emerged from the woods and began shooting at the officers, Walker said. After the exchange of gunfire, the suspect was hit several times but no officers were injured.

The suspect, whose name has yet to be released by the state police, was first taken to Decatur County Hospital by ambulance and then to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. There is no word yet on his condition.

Walker said the officers will be placed on administrative duty while the incident is investigated.

Hope calls off Civil War Days after founder’s death

Mar 12, 2015 1002

The town of Hope is calling off its annual Civil War Days event in April.

The event has been held the first weekend of April since 2011, but Barb Johnson with the Yellow Trail Museum in Hope said that weekend is Easter weekend. Also the event had been organized by Larry Simpson, the publisher of the Hope Star-Journal newspaper, But Simpson died in September.

Johnson said the town will have Civil War related events on April 12th in recognition of the 150 year anniversary of the end of the war. Danny Russel will portray President Abraham Lincoln in a dinner theater event called “Abe Lincoln: Hoosier Hero” at Strawberry Fields Mercantile. Lunch will start at 1:30 p.m. and tickets will be $15.

Sheriff’s Dept. offers free gun locks

Mar 11, 2015 549

The Bartholomew County Sheriff Department is offering free gun locks to the community. Department Spokesperson Judy Jackson says that Sheriff Matt Myers wants all residents to make certain that firearms in their homes are not accessible to anyone, especially children.

The Sheriff’s Office has recently received another shipment of the cable-style gun locks, which are intended to discourage unauthorized access to a firearm. However, Sheriff Myers stresses that no safety or lock can be a substitute for safe, careful gun handling and storage.

Jackson says that demand was so high, the Sheriff’s Office temporarily ran out of the locks. She says that additional locks are available, at no charge, on a first-come, first-served basis. They can be picked up at the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Office’s front desk during regular business hours Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Family of three escapes Columbus house fire

Mar 11, 2015 1479

A family of three escaped from an early morning fire today in Columbus.

Capt. Mike Wilson, spokesman for the Columbus Fire Department says residents found a fire on the rear porch of their home in the 900 block of 13th Street at about 3:32 a.m. A resident, Ashley Vance, told fire investigators that she, her boyfriend and their 6 month old daughter were asleep in the home they rent but she awoke to a strange cracking sound.

She woke her family and got them and a family pet out of the home and called 911, Wilson said.

Firefighters found a heavy fire when they arrived and fought it by applying water through a kitchen window onto the porch. The kitchen and enclosed porch area suffered the most damage and the fire melted vinyl siding on a neighboring house on California Street. Firefighters estimated the damage at $60,000.

Wilson said that the cause of the fire may go undetermined due to the extensive damage. Investigators do not believe the fire to be suspicious in nature.

New executive chosen for Columbus Area Visitors Center

Mar 11, 2015 1009

The Columbus Area Visitor’s Center is announcing it has found a new executive director.

Karen Niverson will take over the Columbus center as Lynn Lucas retires after 16 years at the visitors center and 10 as its executive director.

Niverson has been the executive director for more than 10 years at the Grant County, Indiana, Convention and Visitors Bureau. She also served as president of the Indiana Tourism Association. .

Prior to directing the Grant County bureau, Niverson was a regional manager for the Indiana Office of Tourism, where she served 23 counties. She also has experience as a hotel general manager, theater business manager, and county-wide strategic planning office program manager.

Tourism generated $342 million of economic impact for the Bartholomew County economy in 2012 according to a report from the visitors center.

Niverson’s first day in the office will be April 6th.

City moving ahead with plans to clear foundry lot

Mar 11, 2015 684

Plans are moving ahead to demolish the former Golden Castings foundry property on 10th Street in Columbus despite a change in the potential new owners.

A previously planned development would have turned the western portion of the former foundry property into a assisted living facility for seniors with memory problems. However that plan fell through , said Carl Malysz, director of community development for the city. And without a developer in place, grants were put into jeopardy that were going to pay for the demolition to the hulk of a building left on the property and to clean up the rest of the lot.

However, Jonesboro Investments, the developers of an apartment complex on the eastern portion of the former foundry property are planning to build another apartment complex on remaining portion of the lot, Malysz told the Board of Public works and Safety on Tuesday.

Having a new developer in place allows the grants to still be used to clean up the property and demolition is expected to happen later this month, Malysz said.

The board of works was set to consider an order requiring the owner of the property, KLM National, to secure the property because of the dangers in the remaining-five story building. Malysz said firefighters have been called to the building and discovered evidence that people may have been squatting there and making drugs inside the abandoned building.

Hope schools face funding cuts next year

Mar 11, 2015 726

Flat Rock-Hawcreek school officials are looking at a loss of more than $428,000 in funding for next school year.

Dr. Kathy Griffey, the district’s superintendent, briefed the school board last night on the anticipated shortfall. Griffey said that the district has already tapped into other financial life rafts in recent years to meet the budget, but those are all exhausted. She said the funding problems will cause some hard choices in the budget for next school year.

“If we look at that as to where we are, it is obvious that we need to make some adjustments because we can not continue to spend more than we take in,” Griffey said.

The school district has seen a decrease of about 24 percent in its student enrollment over the past 10 years, based on estimates for next school year.

Two arrested on drug-dealing charges

Mar 11, 2015 1601

Two people were arrested Monday in Columbus on warrants alleging they have been dealing narcotics.

Sgt. Matt Harris, spokesman for the Columbus Police Department, said that officers arrested 32-year-old Aaron L. Gray, of Greensburg while investigating a battery on Reo Street at 12:10 p.m.

At 7:40 p.m., officers from the city-county Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team, Columbus Police Department’s Uniform Division and the U.S. Marshall’s Office served a warrant in the 600 block of Parkway Drive. 27-year-old Ashley L. Hayden of Columbus had four warrants for her arrest.

Gray is being held on a $250,000 bond on two counts of dealing methamphetamine and one count of theft.

Hayden is facing two counts of dealing methamphetamine, failing to appear in court on a probation violation and two counts of failing to comply with a court horder. Her bond was was set at $353,000.