Police warn of phone scam

Jan 28, 2015 527

Columbus police are warning of a scam that took advantage of a local woman.

Sgt. Matt Harris, spokesman for the police department, said that officers received a report from the victim who said she received a call from a person she thought was a family member who was in trouble.

The woman bought two pre-paid credit cards and passed the information to a person on the phone who identified themselves as an attorney. After sending the information, the victim realized they had been taken in by a scam.

Harris said police are warning you not to send money over the phone to people you don’t know. If you have any questions, or think you might have been the victim of a scam, he urged you to call Columbus Police at 812-376-2600.

Educational greenhouse planned near old landfill

Jan 28, 2015 402

The path has been cleared for an educational greenhouse to be built on county-owned property west of the former landfill near Petersville.

The Bartholomew County Solid Waste Management District is partnering with Ivy Tech to provide an agricultural field station for use by Ivy Tech and local high school students who wish to learn more about alternative farming. The greenhouse will measure 40 feet by 120 feet. An existing pond will be used to grow fish and shrimp.

The Columbus Board of Zoning Appeals approved plans to construct a driveway and the greenhouse during its meeting Tuesday night. While neighbors said they were supportive of the property being used in a constructive manner, they expressed serious concerns with the installation of another driveway so close to existing driveways.

The city zoning ordinances require 400 feet of space between driveways in that area. This new driveway will be 165 feet from its nearest neighboring drive.

The board elected to take the advice of the county engineering department, who inspected the area and said that traffic should not be affected.

Bailey trial heads to jurors

Jan 28, 2015 369

Jurors today will begin considering the case against Randy Bailey, the suspended Hope town marshal who is accused of official misconduct and false informing.

The trial in Bartholomew Circuit Court stems from an incident over Memorial Day weekend in 2012, when Anthony Paul, a Hope resident, decided to confront Bailey on the front steps of the marshal’s home over an incident the night before. Bailey had Paul arrested for allegedly making a death threat against the marshal, but Paul was carrying a digital recorder in his pocket recording the conversation, which authorities found contained no death threats.

Bailey took the stand in his own defense Tuesday morning and the attorneys made their closing arguments yesterday afternoon. The special prosecutor, Cynthia Crispin, argued that this is a simple case of “he said/he said” that is different because of the recording. Defense attorney Tom Barr pointed to suggestions that a second recorder might have been involved and to the technical skills and equipment of Paul’s father, who works on computers and operates a sound lab in his basement.

The jury would have received their instructions and begun deliberation last night, but jurors asked Judge Stephen Heimann to reopen the session this morning.

Tablet drive for special needs children scheduled for Friday

Jan 28, 2015 315

A program to get used computer tablets into the hands of special needs children will be seeking donations this Friday.

David McArdle, a pilot for Cummins is organizing the second annual effort by Tablet ReConnect. McArdle got the idea for the project when a friend gave McArdle’s family a used tablet to be used by McArdle’s son with special needs.

“It was amazing seeing the things that he knew, that we didn’t even know that he knew — identifying letters, numbers, shapes, colors,” McArdle said. “All of these things because he just never spoke. So we got to thinking, ‘Why don’t we collect more of these used iPads and give them to these special needs kids who could really use them the most.'”

He said last year’s event generated 40 tablets that were redistributed to those children in Columbus.

“Just hearing the feedback from parents of how well these kids succeed and learn from the interactions on these tablets, has been amazing,” McArdle said. “That is really some of the biggest benefit that comes out of them.”

This year, the effort is hoping that businesses will get involved and donate old tablets when they upgrade to new equipment.

McArdle said the drive will be for any model of used tablet or used cellphone. They can be dropped off from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday at The Commons Mall behind the Chaos sculpture, at the Bartholomew County Public Library, and for Cummins employees, at the Cummins Office Building, the Commons Office Building and the Irwin Conference Center..

Anyone dropping off a working tablet or donating $100 or more will be entered into a contest for an iPad mini. You can find more information at tabletreconnect.com

City officials consider selling Walesboro airport property

Jan 27, 2015 415
A 2006 aerial view by Phil Brooks looking west at the former Walesboro airfield showed that the former runways & taxiways remained in fine shape.

A 2006 aerial view by Phil Brooks looking west at the former Walesboro airfield
showed that the former runways & taxiways remained in fine shape.

Columbus officials are considering selling the city’s Walesboro airport property in the hopes of creating a new industrial park in the area.

Doug Pacheco, a contractor hired by the city to move projects through the city pipeline, told the redevelopment commission last night that the city is working on a request for proposals on what could be done with the airport property.

“I think the city is probably interested in selling that property to a developer, who will come up with a master site plan, that will give us options,” Pacheco said.

City officials have said that the city is running out of large areas suitable for new industrial development.

“Walesboro is the largest and probably the last area of develop-able land of any size in Columbus,” Pacheco said. “The Woodside business park right now is filling up and almost full. So this one has an opportunity to have a rail spur and really promote more of either light industry or research and development. So this is a big deal for the city of Columbus to have an area like that.”

Part of the approval process would be to get state and federal officials to agree that the former airport is not in the flood plain, Pacheco told the Columbus Redevelopment Commission last night.

Columbus hopes to find restaurant tenant

Jan 27, 2015 492

Columbus officials hope to have a tenant signed for the empty restaurant space in the city-owned Jackson Street parking garage by this summer.

The space was formerly occupied by Bistro 310, which closed abruptly in December. Heather Pope, director of the city redevelopment department, is working on a request for proposals for the vacant space. She said the city would likely start seeking proposals by the end of February, and those would be due back in her office by April 17th.

The city is going through an appraisal process now to make sure that the rent range in the request for proposals is neither at the high- or low-end of the downtown market, she said.

City officials hope to find another restaurant to fill the space, Pope said.

“A restaurant or a version that sells obviously food, but maybe there is an alcohol component to it as well,” Pope said. “But we are not necesarily looking for something that is only open five days a week. We want something that is active seven days a week to help draw people downtown.”

She anticipated finding a tenant and signing them to a contract by mid June.

“Our goal is to fill it as soon as possible, obviously,” Pope said.

North Vernon closes in on railroad walkway agreement

Jan 27, 2015 432

Correction: The original version of this story misidentified the type of walkway being discussed.

The city of North Vernon is closing in on an agreement with the Madison Railroad on a pedestrian walkway  over the tracks at O&M Avenue.

Madison Railroad Spokesman Dave Cheatham approached the City Council Monday with a written agreement that would allow a pedestrian footpath to cross over the railroad tracks. According to the agreement, the city would reimburse the railroad for fees, services and the actual construction work. North Vernon would have the final approval of costs. The city would also hold the railroad, the city of Madison and its Port Authority harmless for the work, which would take place at the same time as the crossing replacement on O&M Avenue.

Council members said they were in favor of the proposal, but ultimately tabled it because city officials want language that would would not hinder their ability to reopen Short Street to vehicles.

While Cheatham could not agree to the council’s request on his own, he did indicate that the issue would not kill the proposed agreement.

Council members said that they were hopeful the amended agreement would appear at the next council meeting, scheduled for Feb. 9.

Commissioners to seek more money for annex project

Jan 27, 2015 449

Bartholomew County Commissioners say the $3.25 million budget for the proposed county annex building on State Street is too little money.

Commissioners will talk to the County Council next week about borrowing enough money to take the project closer to $5 million dollars.

Commissioners and County Council wrangled over the amount last year, finally agreeing to the $3.25 million number that would be taken from county cash reserves in the general fund and rainy fund. But based on advice from the architects, the commissioners say that isn’t enough money to build a building large enough to house all of the county offices needed at the facility.

“We did this initial interview and asked the departments to give us their needs,” Lienhoop said. “You might say their needs might be wishlist. I supposed you could tackle it one way and say ‘OK we got your wishlist and we are just going to cut it by 50 percent.’ I don’t know that is the answer to the problem.”

Lienhoop said another unexpected complication adds to the space needs.

“In your house, you have a hallway that you absolutely can’t do much with, but you have got to have it,” Lienhoop said. “You have a few square feet in there that are occupied by walls — walls physically taking up square footage. It ends up that figure, in a public building, can be up to about 20 percent.”

Commissioners said they wanted to avoid a situation like the county jail, which was too small when it opened because of cost-cutting. About 15 years later, the county had to add an even-more expensive jail expansion. Commissioner President Larry Kleinhenz said that building and materals costs go up and up, meaning the later expansion is even more costly than the original construction.

Commissioners said they were investigating some options to find more money in the budget, including considering refinancing the county’s jail debt at a lower interest rate.

The current annex building houses the county health department’s nursing program and the Purdue Extension office.

Commissioners approved about $97,000 in architects fees for the initial planning and study phases of the project. The money will be paid by the Cummins architectural program.

Traffic stop leads to discovery of fake credit cards

Jan 26, 2015 519

A traffic stop near Seymour last week led to the discovery of more than 170 fake credit cards and the arrest of two men on fraud charges.

Indiana State Police are reporting that a state trooper saw a vehicle made an unsafe lane change near the 49 mile marker of I-65, just south of Seymour Thursday afternoon. The trooper pulled the vehicle over and became suspicious. The driver allowed the trooper to search the vehicle, where the trooper allegedly discovered the credit cards. The U.S. Secret Service was called in to assist and authorities discovered that the cards had stolen credit car numbers on them. 

29-year-old Rene Perez and 24-year-old Brian Diaz, both of Louisville, Ky., were arrested on preliminary felony charges of fraud and were taken to the Jackson County Jail. The investigation is ongoing.

City to begin search for Bistro 310 replacement

Jan 26, 2015 573

The city of Columbus will begin seeking proposals for the vacant restaurant space in the city-owned parking garage at Fourth and Jackson streets.

The space was formerly occupied by Bistro 310, which closed abruptly in December.

The city had just finished renegotiating a new lease for Bistro 310, which would have substituted a fixed monthly rent increase of $1,650 per month to the $3,650 base rent, instead of continuing to take a percentage of the restaurant’s sales above $600,000.

The previous contract was one of those negotiated by Columbus Downtown Inc., a not-for-profit set up by the previous city administration.

Heather Pope, director of redevelopment for the city, will ask the Columbus Redevelopment Commission to approve the wording of the new request for proposals at 6 p.m. tonight at Columbus City Hall in the Council Chambers.