Polar Plunge Saturday in downtown Columbus

Feb 6, 2015 675

A Polar Plunge is being held this weekend in Columbus.

Organizer Beth Schweigel says this is the first event of this kind to be held in the city. The Polar Plunge takes place Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Commons. Registration takes place from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Schweigel says that the Polar Plunge is one of the largest fundraisers for Special Olympics Indiana. The event raises funds and awareness for adults and children with intellectual disabilities. Columbus is one of 14 sites throughout the state putting on a Polar Plunge during the months of January and February, with the largest event taking place at Eagle Creek Reservoir in Indianapolis. Schweigel says that last year, the Polar Plunge events raised more than $580,000 for Special Olympics Indiana.

“This event is one of a kind, as it gives everyone in the community an opportunity to do something fun, for our more than 11,000 Special Olympics athletes,” said Special Olympics Indiana President and CEO Michael Furnish. “Our state’s Polar Plunge has been around for 16 years, and each year it gets better and better. Even if you’re not planning to take the plunge, we encourage you to come out to the Plunge site nearest you and support this state-wide event and cheer on some very brave Plungers!”

In order to take part in the plunge, participants must raise at least $75, or $50 for students with an ID. Awards are given for those who raise the most funds for Special Olympics Indiana. This event also includes a prize for the best costume, which will be judged in part, by Mayor Kristen Brown. A social event will take place afterwards inside the Commons.

Participants are encouraged to pre-register online for the Polar Plunge at www.soindiana.org. You are invited to come downtown and watch the event. You are free to take part in the post-plunge festivities inside the Commons, but you will be charges $5 per person.

Schweigel says this Polar Plunge event is being organized with the help of the Columbus Police Department and the Columbus Fire Department, along with their Underwater Rescue/Dive Team, and the Columbus Regional Health Hospital Ambulance.

For more information about the Polar Plunge event in Columbus and others throughout the state, visit www.soindiana.org or call (800) 742-0612.

Hope resident faces abuse, neglect, strangulation charges

Feb 6, 2015 687

Anthony Paul of Hope, turned himself into the Bartholomew County Jail yesterday on a warrant for five felony charges. Paul’s allegations ANTHONY PAULagainst suspended Hope Town Marshal Randy Bailey in an unrelated incident led to Bailey’s arrest and conviction on charges of official misconduct and false informing last week.

The 51-year-old Paul was wanted on a warrant from Bartholomew Superior Court warrant alleging two counts of child abuse, one count of strangulation and two counts of neglect of a dependent, according to Indiana State Police Trooper Tommy Walker. Walker said the charges came from an Indiana State Police investigation dating back to July 2014.

According to jail records, Paul turned himself in shortly after noon Thursday. He was released after posting $7,500 cash bail.

Paul and Bailey got into an argument at Bailey’s home on Memorial Day weekend of 2012. Bailey had Paul arrested on charges of intimidation and trespassing. But a recording on a digital recorder Paul had in his pocket showed no threats were made. The charges against Paul were dropped and Bailey was charged instead.

Columbus to consider special development target area

Feb 5, 2015 1287

Two buildings just north of Fire Station 1 in downtown Columbus could become part of a special economic development target area.

The owner of the former Lockett’s Lady Shop building and a neighboring building on Washington Street would like to put in an eye clinic and receive a tax abatement, said Carl Malysz, head of the Columbus Community Development Department. But before the tax abatement can be considered, the area must be targeted for economic development by the city.

“There’s some limitations on the amount of local area that can be included in an economic development target area,” Malysz said. “It is essentially 15 percent of the land area of the community. I will tell you that there are very, very few pieces of property in the city of Columbus at this point in time that have been designated as economic development target areas.”

Other target areas include several properties along Washington Street from First Street to 11th Street and from Washington west to Jackson Street, Malysz said. Another property is the city-owned lots beside the Bartholomew County, where an indoor sports complex was planned and then scrapped. Last year the city designated the former Hostess/Dolly Madison Bakery property as a target area so that Kroger could build a new store at that location.

The Columbus Economic Development Commission will meet at noon today in the Council Chambers at City Hall to consider the request and it will also have to be approved by the City Council.

Deputies warn of phone scam claiming sweepstakes win

Feb 4, 2015 3346

The Johnson County Sheriff’s Department is warning of a phone scam where a caller tries to trick the victim into thinking they have won the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes.

Deputies were called to a Greenwood home yesterday afternoon on a report that a caller with a heavy accent claimed that the couple had won a prize in the sweepstakes and that they needed to call another number to confirm.

The person on the second call told the victims they had won a car and tried to get the victims to give up their personal details. When they refused, the caller swore at them and hung up.

Deputies tried the number and it had been disconnected.

Mayor calls for more money for street work

Feb 4, 2015 580

Columbus Mayor Kristen Brown said the city needs to allocate more money to pay for much-needed road repairs.

The mayor explained the needs to City Council last night. She says these needs include $2.8 million for concrete roads and approximately $8.7 million dollars for asphalt roads.

“This is obviously far more than we can afford this year, and more than the engineering department would be manage,” Brown said. “But these are immediate (needs) so what we would be looking at would be a large additional appropriation and then trying to go back and prioritize these.”

City Engineer Beth Fizel said that some of the roads are in need of reconstruction but some are just in need of maintenance.

“(We are) trying to help work on what is kind of a never-ending cycle,” Fizel said.

Fizel said the city enginering department is working on a proposal for the council to look over at its next meeting in two weeks.

Search continues for missing man in Flat Rock River

Feb 4, 2015 513

A month after the disappearance of a Shelbyville man in the Flat Rock River, rescue workers are still searching for his whereabouts.

The suspected victim, 43-year-old James Hellums of Shelbyville, was last seen in the river near Geneva in Shelby County on Jan. 4th, by Jim Kelly whose canoe Hellums allegedly stole. Hellums was flailing in the water and calling for help but had disappeared by the time Kelly was able to get a phone and call rescue workers.

“I don’t see how he could have gotten out,” Kelly said. “The guy I saw was struggling, he was on his last leg and if he did (get out) then he is Superman.”

Close by the man in the water, but submerged was Kelly’s canoe, he said.

Kelly said that his canoe was found last week near Columbus Road in southern Shelby County and returned to him over the weekend. It was located in a log jam on the river about 20 miles from where Hellums was last seen.

Detective David Tilford, with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department said searchers continue to follow up on leads and to search the river.

“At this point, it is still a missing persons case,” Tilford said. “We following up on any lead that we can and of course, we will continue to search until we bring him home, one way or the other.”

Star Columbus North player seriously hurt in crash

Feb 2, 2015 660

Columbus North High School star basketball player Josh Speidel was seriously injured in a crash Sunday evening near Taylorsville.

According to reports from the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department, 18-year-old Speidel was entering U.S. 31 from Bear Lane Road at just after 7 p.m., when his vehicle was hit in the driver’s side by a southbound vehicle that had just exited the interstate.

The roof and door of Speidel’s vehicle had to be removed with the Jaws of Life to free him from the vehicle, said Judy Jackson, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department.

Speidel was taken to Columbus Regional Hospital then transferred to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis by ambulance. The LifeLine helicopter was grounded due to weather. He was in critical condition this morning.

First responders believe Speidel suffered head trauma and internal injuries.

A passenger in Speidel’s car, 18-year-old Kaylee McCracken was taken to CRH with minor injuries.

The driver of the second vehicle, 42-year-old Janell Foley of Columbus was treated at the scene and released with minor injuries. Two boys in Foley’s vehicle were uninjured.

Sheriff’s deputies T.A. Smith and Leah Burton arrived on the scene within seconds, Jackson said. Smith was at a nearby convenience store at the time of the crash.

Speidel is the career scoring leader for the Bull Dogs.

Columbus officers save two heroin overdose victims

Feb 2, 2015 2182

Columbus police are crediting a new drug they are carrying with saving the lives of two people from heroin overdoses on Saturday.

Sgt. Matt Harris, spokesman for the police department, said that officers John Searle and Kelly Hibbs were first called to the 100 block of Carrie Lane at about 3:20 p.m. Saturday on a report of a woman who was not breathing. While Officer Hibbs performed CPR, Searle gave the victim a dose of Narcan and she quickly began breathing again and was taken to Columbus Regional Hospital.

Harris said that Officer Ben Goodin was called to the 2300 block of Lombardi Court on a possible overdose at about 10:23 p.m. Saturday. Officer Goodin found a 16-year-old girl who was unconscious and having difficulty breathing. After Goodin gave the girl a dose of Narcan, she regained consciousness and was taken to Columbus Regional Hospital.

The police department recently equipped its officers with the life-saving drug. Harris said Columbus police are one of only about a dozen police departments statewide who carry the drug. Last week, CPD finished training the last of its officers in the drug’s use.

Last week, the Bartholomew County Commissioners agreed to let the county sheriff’s department seek grants to fund the drug for county deputies to carry.

New trash routes, curbside recycling take effect today

Feb 2, 2015 385

Today marks the first day of the new sanitation routes and curbside recycling for the city of Columbus.

Most Columbus residents will need to have their trash out on a different day of the week than they are accustomed to. You can check out a list of the new days on the city website at columbus.in.gov.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for 8 a.m. today at the City Garage at 2250 Kreutzer Drive. Mayor Kristen Brown along with others will cut the ribbon when the recycling collection truck rolls out of the City Garage to make its first rounds. The recycling truck will feature the new Columbus Recycles logo and colors.

As of Friday afternoon, nearly 6,800 residences have signed up for the recycling service. That is 42 percent of the homes that receive city sanitation service, exceeding the city’s goal of 40 percent after the first year of service.

You are invited to take part in this morning’s event.

Door alarm leads to arrest of Columbus man

Jan 30, 2015 475

A Columbus man has been arrested for allegedly carrying electronics out the side door of a store on Merchant Mile yesterday.

Sgt. Matt Harris, spokesman for the Columbus Police Department, says officers were called to the store at about 6:40 a.m. Thursday after the man was seen carrying a television and other electronic items out a side door. Officers knew which door the man was going out because of an alarm and located 43-year-old Michael B. Purdue, of Columbus, who was loading items into his truck, which was parked outside the door.

Purdue allegedly ran when he saw officers and was caught a short distance later. He was found to be carrying a billfold reported stolen earlier in the week and methamphetamine, Harris said.

Purdue was arrested on preliminary charges of theft, resisting law enforcement, possession of stolen property and possession of methamphetamine.