North Vernon leaders discuss water issues

Jun 9, 2015 1222

The plan by some leaders in North Vernon to utilize an old quarry as a new reservoir and primary water supply for the city is being met with some opposition.

North Vernon resident Lester Lee appeared before the city council Monday night to air his grievances. He says that experts say that communities should not establish a water supply near an existing cemetery. Lee notes that there is one running up against the quarry.

Lee is also concerned about a nearby “brown zone” that used to be a Superfund site in the 70s and 80s. Lee says that the site could be a source for thallium, a post-transitional metal that is highly poisonous and deadly to humans. He says that while initial indications are that any toxins from the site are migrating away from the quarry to the north and the west, there is no way to know for sure. Lee says the quarry site is 800 feet to the east of the brown zone.

Mayor Harold “Soup” Campbell says that the concerns about the site have been well-vetted and that safety measures are in place. While noting that safety is of the utmost importance, he also reminded the council about the need to move quickly on the project as the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) is involved. Mayor Campbell said that INDOT won’t wait for the city and that not being prepared will cost North Vernon taxpayers enormous amounts of money. He also reminded council members that studies have shown that this quarry proposal is the best option for North Vernon residents.

Council members indicated that they understood what Mayor Campbell was saying, but they also noted that city residents need to feel safe about their water supply. With that, the council agreed that a special meeting for residents to fully discuss their concerns will be held at the Education Training Center on June 22 at 6 p.m.

Columbus hires two new firefighters

Jun 9, 2015 917

The Columbus Fire Department (CFD) has two new firefighters. These firefighters were sworn-in Tuesday morning by Mayor Kristen Brown at the Board of Public Works and Safety meeting at City Hall.

CFD Spokesman Capt. Michael Wilson says the department welcomes Marcus Gruner to the department. Gruner is a 23-yearDSCF3050-old graduate of New Palestine High School. He has previously served as a firefighter with Sugar Creek Township for five years. Gruner is a state certified Basic EMT.

CFD also welcome Michael Tucker to the department. Tucker is 27-years-old and is also a graduate of New Palestine High School. He has served as a firefighter with Buck Creek Township for five years and is a state certified Basic EMT.

In addition to their emergency medical training, Wilson says that both firefighters have been trained to the awareness and operations level for Hazardous Materials. He adds that Gruner and Tucker will undergo additional training with the department before they receive their station assignments.

Man accused of battering woman

Jun 9, 2015 1372

A Columbus man was arrested over the weekend after being accused of battering a woman in the 1900 block of South Talkington Road.

Judy Jackson, spokeswoman for the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department, says that 19-year-old Michael W. Nida II was Friday night after allegedly entering a residence, breaking a woman’s belongings, then choking her before leaving the scene.

Nida is facing charges of domestic battery, strangulation, criminal confinement, intimidation and battery with serious bodily injury. He has also been served with a protective order.

New CASA volunteers sworn-in

Jun 8, 2015 474

Several newly-trained Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers began their first full week of service on Monday. The nine volunteers were sworn-in late last week by Bartholomew County Juvenile Magistrate Heather Mollo as officers of the court.

In their new roll, these volunteers will work directly with area victims of child abuse and neglect, working to ensure that their needs are met and that their best interests are front and center in the court system. CASA volunteers do the work needed to make sure that judges, and others, hear the voices of these children in Bartholomew, Decatur and Jennings Counties.

Magistrate Mollo spoke to the CASA volunteers before administering their oaths.

“On behalf of the family court judges of the State of Indiana, thank you,” Mollo said. “Compared with you, my time with these children is often formal and brief. You are the one who provides the critical detail. Thank you for your heart.”

Advocates for Children is already looking ahead to the next training session. Rick Scalf, the agency’s Community Outreach Coordinator, said a record number children being removed from their homes is putting more pressure on the system. He says this pressure is increasing the importance of volunteers.

“The Department of Child services recently announce that 2015 is a record year for child abuse and neglect,” Scalf said. “We’ve already doubled the rate of cases from 2014. With the child protection system under that kind of pressure, and each department’s case load rising, it’s more important than ever to have someone standing next to these children, making sure that they don’t slip through the cracks.”

Scalf went on to say that Advocates for Children has seen increases in their waiting list in all three counties they serve. He says the children on these lists have already been removed from their homes, but do not yet an advocate speaking on their behalf.

Individuals interested in learning more about becoming a CASA volunteer or the upcoming training session are urged to call Advocates for Children at (812) 372-2808, or visit the agency online at

Edinburgh man rescued by good Samaritan

Jun 8, 2015 1113

An Edinburgh man is lucky to be alive after a fiery one-vehicle crash Sunday night.

Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department (BCSD) Spokesperson Judy Jackson says the crash took place at 10 p.m. on River Road in the area of County Road 500 North.

crash1On arrival, BCSD Sgt. Kris Weisner reported that a sports car was resting on its top on the west side of the roadway. It was fully engulfed in flames and a man was lying on the ground nearby.

The man, later identified as 28-year-old Nathan D. Wilson, was complaining of back pain. He also had visible injuries to his knees.

crash2Sgt. Weisner also made contact with a witness who was also on the scene. He told authorities that he witnessed Wilson’s vehicle headed south on County Road 50 West, when it left the roadway and drove into a nearby field. Wilson’s car returned to the roadway just south of River Road before it again went off of the road and caught fire.

The witness said that when he saw Wilson inside the vehicle struggling to get out, he grabbed him and pulled him from the burning vehicle. Authorities say there were no passengers.

Sgt. Weisner’s report indicated that Wilson was talking as medical staff placed him in an ambulance. He reportedly said that he remembered running off the roadway but did not know what caused him to do so.

The Sheriff’s Department says that alcohol was likely a contributing factor to the crash. They also noted that Wilson was not wearing a seat belt.

Jackson went on to say that Deputy Matt Bush was assisting at the crash scene when he found a loaded .380 handgun in the field near the vehicle. Wilson confirmed that it belonged to him. Authorities say he did not have a permit for the weapon.

Sheriff’s Department officials say that Wilson was not arrested at the time, due to his injuries. They say that charges of Operating a Motor Vehicle Under the Influence and Possession of a Handgun without a Permit are being forwarded to the Prosecutor’s Office.

Authorities credit the good Samaritan, Damon Duncan, of Columbus, for rescuing Wilson. “Deputies often respond to dangerous situations because it’s our job it’s what we do. This gentleman put his life on the line, without a second’s hesitation because it was the right thing to do. In all probability, Mr. Wilson is alive today because this man stepped in and pulled him from his burning vehicle”, said Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers.

Emergency agencies seeking Public Safety Academy applicants

Jun 4, 2015 407

Columbus and Bartholomew County emergency agencies are looking for members of the public interested in taking part in the 2015 Public Safety Academy.

The 10-week program gives participants an inside look at the operations of agencies including the Columbus police and fire departments, the county sheriff’s department and the dispatch center. Classes begin in August and are held on Thursday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m. They feature presentations and tours of various locations including the county jail and a trip to the Columbus police firing range.

The class is limited to 30 particpants and is only held once a year. To download an application, you visit the Columbus Police Department website at and click on the CPD Community Programs tab. You can also call Sgt. Matt Harris with questions at 812-376-2605.

Bridge closed in Bartholomew County

May 29, 2015 970

County Road 300 North (at Bridge #39) between County Roads 1100 East and 1125 East in Bartholomew County is being closed indefinitely.

County Engineer Danny Hollander says that during a recent inspection of the bridge, heavy rust was found on critical components. He says this was not a surprise, as the maximum weight limit was lowered to three tons just two years ago. With that knowledge, Hollander says the county began a design project to replace the bridge. Officials opened the bids a few months ago, but Hollander says all came in substantially over the anticipated cost.

Since then, the county has been looking into possible repairs, cost and how long they would take. But, for now, officials had to close the bridge.

Hollander went on to say that after speaking with neighbors in that area, there may be public support for keeping the bridge closed. He stresses that further discussion needs to take place, but with the low traffic volume, cost and alternate routes to State Road 46, this may end up being the best alternative.

A final decision is not expected anytime soon.

County Council work session set for Monday

May 28, 2015 504

The Bartholomew County Council will be dealing with a number of financial issues during a work session scheduled for Monday evening.

County Engineer Danny Hollander is scheduled to discuss an upcoming request for additional appropriations for roads. The appropriation request totals over $660,000 and will cover repairs to a highway, county roads and bridges.

The council will also discuss a Community Corrections Grant worth nearly $1.1 million. The body is also expected to hear an update on the county’s health insurance trust fund.

Monday evening’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the County Government Office Building on Third Street in Columbus.

Eat a steak, Tip a Cop

May 28, 2015 699

Law Enforcement officers and Special Olympics Indiana are teaming up with six Indiana Texas Roadhouse restaurants for the second straight year to benefit over 11,000 Hoosier athletes with intellectual disabilities. “Tip-A-Cop” events will take place June 1 though June 5 at Texas Roadhouse restaurants in and around Columbus. The event is part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run® (LETR).

Law enforcement officers will trade badges for aprons as they collect tips from Texas Roadhouse customers; all money donated goes directly to Special Olympics Indiana. The head of the state police, Superintendent Doug Carter, said, “The Indiana State Police, and law enforcement in general, have a bond with Special Olympics and are pleased to be part of the tip-a-cop fundraising event.”

As an LETR signature fundraising event, Tip-A-Cop invites Hoosier residents to attend one of the selected Texas Roadhouse locations and enjoy a meal. Customers are then encouraged to donate gratuities, a “special tip”, to law enforcement “celebrity waiters” to help to raise funds and awareness for adults and children with intellectual disabilities. Throughout its history, the Tip-A-Cop fundraising event has generated over $2.5 million for Special Olympics.

You are asked to dine in at the following Texas Roadhouse locations on the following days:

Monday, June 1: Columbus and Richmond
Wednesday, June 3: Greenwood, Bloomington and Terre Haute
Friday, June 5: Southport

Schneck adopts new wristband system

May 28, 2015 554

Schneck Medical Center in Seymour has implemented the American Hospital Association’s universal color-coded alert wristband system. Stephanie Furlow, Schneck’s Director of Marketing & Public Relations, says the system is a safety measure to reduce the potential for medical error. She adds that adopting the wristband system “further demonstrates Schneck’s commitment to quality care and patient safety.”

Schneck officials say the color-coded alert wristbands are used to quickly communicate certain medical conditions individual patients may have. Each wristband color has a different meaning. The colors were chosen based on a nationwide initiative to standardize wristbands and include the use of yellow for fall risk, red for allergy, purple for “Do Not Resuscitate”, pink for limited extremity, orange for photodynamic therapy, and green for latex allergy.

“Schneck continually strives to find new ways to improve the quality of care we provide to the communities we serve,” said Vicki Johnson-Poynter, RN, MSN, NE-BC, CSSBB, Vice President of Nursing Services. “Patient care begins and ends with quality and safety. We encourage all hospitals to implement this program.”