Search ongoing for missing 2-year-old girl after truck found in river

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated.

A two-year-old girl remains missing after her father’s truck was found submerged in East Fork White River this morning.

Authorities are searching for two-year-old Emma Sweet. She is a white girl with brown hair and brown eyes weighing 23 pounds.. She was last seen wearing all black with a cream-colored jacket with butterflies on it.

She and her father, Jeremy Sweet, were last seen Wednesday afternoon in his black Ford 150 pickup truck. The truck was discovered submerged in the river off of a farm lane near Beatty Lane at almost 6 this morning by duck hunters. Jeremy Sweet was inside and suffering from exposure and hypothermia.

He was taken to Columbus Regional Hospital for treatment.

It is not known if she was in the truck when it went into the river. The two had been reported missing and were last seen at about noon on Wednesday.

Jeremy Sweet is currently out on bond for unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon as well as possession of methamphetamine.

If you have any information on her whereabouts, you should call 911 or 812-379-1689.

Assisting in the search are Indiana State Police, Indiana Department of Natural Resources conservation officers, Wayne Township Volunteer Fire Department, Columbus Township Fire and Rescue Department, 31 Wrecker, Columbus Regional Hospital medics, and Columbus Fire Department.

Exhibit Columbus installations end Sunday; Final tour set

This year’s Exhibit Columbus installation season is wrapping up this weekend.

There are more than a dozen temporary installations built around the city’s architectural landmarks. The theme of this year’s event is “New Middles: From Main Street to Megalopolis, What is the Future of the Middle City?”

On Sunday, the exhibition officially ends. But you can still take part in the final guided tour of the installation sites.

Richard McCoy, head of the Landmark Columbus Foundation, will be leading the evening tour starting at 5:30 Sunday and lasting about an hour and a half. The tour will begin as the Exhibit Columbus offices at 408 6th Street. You should dress for the weather and for walking.

To learn more about the exhibition you can go to exhibitcolumbus.org

Parkside students wins statewide cabbage contest

A Columbus third grader is the state winner of a nationwide contest to grow the biggest cabbage.

Bonnie Plants is announcing that Myka Woods of Parkside Elementary School has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship from the company for growing a nearly 5 pound cabbage. Myka was selected by the company and the Indiana State Department of Agriculture as the Indiana winner of this year’s Bonnie Plants 3rd Grade Cabbage Program. The award was based on the student’s enthusiasm to participate and learn in addition to the size and overall appearance of their cabbage.

The contest was largely virtual. At the start of the program, Bonnie Plants sent each participating student a starter cabbage plant and the lessons needed to care for and nurture their plant. Students took a photo with their fully-grown cabbage and submitted it for a chance to win.

Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Bruce Kettler praised the contest as a way to introduce children to agriculture. He said it was inspiring to see the impressive cabbages grown by Indiana students.

You can get more information on the program here.

Photo: Myka Woods with her 5-pound cabbage. Photo courtesy of Bonnie Plants. 

State police promote former Columbus officer, Seymour post trooper

Sgt. Brian Wilson. Photo courtesy of Indiana State Police

A former Columbus police officer, and Seymour-based state trooper is getting promoted.

The Indiana State Police announced recently that Sgt. Brian K. Wilson has been promoted to the rank of First Sergeant. He will serve as the Operations Center Section Commander in Indianapolis and oversee the various components of the center.

Wilson, who is originally from Whiteland, is a graduate of Whiteland High School, and earned an Associate’s Degree in Law Enforcement from Vincennes University. He began his law enforcement career in 1991 with the Columbus Police Department. He graduated from the 52nd Indiana State Police Recruit Academy in 1995 and was first assigned to the Indiana State Police Post in Lafayette.

He transferred to the Seymour Post in 1997, where he served as a trooper until being promoted to the rank of Sergeant. He continued serving as a District Squad Sergeant when the Seymour Post was closed and merged with Versailles in 2010. In 2018, Wilson transferred to the Operations Center in Indianapolis.

Wilson and his wife Melody are residents of Johnson County and have four grown children and one grandchild.

Columbus trash, recycling routes delayed due to holiday

Columbus city offices remain closed today for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Trash and recycling collection will be running one day behind with normal Thursday routes running today, and normal Friday routes running on Saturday. Leaf collection will be running several days late. Normal Thursday pickups will be running on Monday, and normal Friday pickups are running on Tuesday.

You call the Public Works department with any questions at 812-376-2509.

Columbus city utilities says if you have a problem with your water or sewer service, you can call 812-372-8861 and follow the prompts.

All Atterbury refugees could be resettled by end of year

Some of the more than seven-thousand Afghan refugees temporarily housed at Camp Atterbury will be staying in Indiana permanently.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says about 250 refugees so far will make Indiana their new home. Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry announced last week 75 Afghans would be settling there. Aaron Batt, D-H-S’s lead coordinator at Camp Atterbury for the resettlement operation, says others so far have left the base for Indianapolis, Bloomington, Muncie, Hammond, South Bend, Terre Haute and Columbus.

About 7,200 Afghans have been housed temporarily at Camp Atterbury. Batt says about half have been resettled so far. The department’s goal is to finish processing the rest by New Year’s.

State Department representative Christine Elder says Indiana has been “the gold standard” in helping Afghans adjust to their new lives and get resettled. Governor Holcomb says he was inspired by what he describes as the look of hope on the faces of refugees who fled chaos at home and now see a path to peace and security opened to them.

“That peace is priceless, and it fuels us to want to do more,” Holcomb says.

Holcomb says individual Hoosiers have recognized a shared responsibility, and met it. He says he’s heard secondhand of several companies offering jobs to dozens of refugees, and promising to work around language barriers or other difficulties.

Cole Varga with the resettlement agency Exodus says many of those jobs have been low-skill warehouse jobs with companies like Amazon and Wal-Mart, which are trying to add staff amid a labor shortage and the approaching holiday rush. But Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Fred Payne says there have been offers of help from just about every industry sector.

Part of the DHS mission at the camp is to assess refugees’ job skills, and steer them into either job training or adult education programs to get them ready for life in the United States. Varga says Exodus has used federal funding to help Afghans with their first couple of months of expenses in new homes, including rent, utilities and Internet service, to help them get their feet under them. And the state is still coordinating donations of clothes, toys, and personal items like nail clippers.

Donations of diapers and baby formula are also needed. 30 women have given birth since arriving at Camp Atterbury.

Story courtesy of Network Indiana.

Photo credit: U.S. Army photo by Spc. Collin S. MacKown, 14th Public Affairs Detachment. Spc. William Shafer, a soldier assigned to the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, distributes cold weather gear to Afghan guests as part of Operation Allies Welcome at Camp Atterbury, Ind., Nov. 3rd. Donated winter apparel received for Afghan guests included coats, shoes, hats, and gloves. 

Donation still needed for Afghan refugees at Camp Atterbury

People across Indiana have provided the Afghan evacuees at Camp Atterbury with more than a million items.

But more help is still needed.

Hoosiers have donated over 1.5 million items so far, according to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.  Items currently in high demand include:

  • Bottle brushes
  • Bras
  • Closed-toed shoes in all sizes
  • Fingernail clippers
  • Men’s pants in various sizes

Only new items in original packaging are accepted.

You can donate locally at the Indiana National Guard armory on Arnold Street in Columbus. It and seven other armories around the state are open to accept donations for Operation Allies Welcome from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting again on Monday.

Other armories that are accepting donations include:

  • Evansville: 3300 E. Division St., Evansville, IN, 47715
  • Fort Wayne: 130 W. Cook Road, Fort Wayne, IN, 46825
  • Kessler (Indy): 2625 W. Kessler Blvd N Dr, Indianapolis, IN 46222
  • Lafayette: 5280 Haggarty Lane, Lafayette, IN, 47905
  • New Albany: 2909 Grant Line Road, New Albany, IN, 47150
  • Terre Haute: 3614 Maple Avenue, Terre Haute, IN, 47804
  • South Bend: 1901 S. Kemble Avenue, South Bend, IN, 46613

For more information on how you can donate items or money to Team Rubicon, visit www.teamrubiconusa.org.

Story courtesy of Network Indiana

Photo credit: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Trinity Carter / 14th Public Affairs Detachment. Amanda Wallace, a volunteer with Member Club United Soccer, coaches and plays soccer with Afghan guests during a two-day soccer and futsal event hosted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Indiana Soccer Association as part of Operations Allies Welcome at Camp Atterbury, Ind., Nov. 9th.

Fire under investigation after vacant home damaged

A fire damaged a vacant Columbus home last night.

According to reports from Columbus Fire Department, firefighters were called to the 900 block of Short Wilson Street at about 8:56 last night after witnesses saw smoke coming from a home. Firefighters feared that there might be residents inside and forced their way inside. After crawling through the smoke, firefighters found no one was home but a bed was on fire.

The fire was quickly extinguished and an investigation discovered some charring to roof joints in the attic, but the fire did not spread there. Damage was isolated to the bedroom and caused about $15 thousand dollars in damages.

The homeowner said the home had been vacant for about two weeks. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Photo courtesy of Columbus Fire Department

Petersville recycling, trash site to reopen Saturday

The Petersville Convenience trash and recycling collection site has been closed for the last two weekends, but will be operational again on Saturday, according to the Bartholomew County Solid Waste Management District.

The county agency says that the refuse site was closed over the past few weeks on Saturdays because of two separate electrical problems. However the site will be open this Saturday from 8 to 3 to take residential bagged trash and recycling for Bartholomew County residents. The Petersville Convenience Site is on East 25th Street.

According to the agency, the Harrison Township Convenience Site is also open from 8 to 3 on Saturday. That is on West Old National Road.

The Bartholomew County Landfill, the Columbus/Bartholomew Recycling Center and the Bartholomew County Solid Waste Management District offices will be closed Thursday for Thanksgiving.

The recycling Center and offices will also be closed Friday but the landfill is open normal hours.

Turkey Trot 5k Thursday to help raise scholarship funds

Columbus Parks and Recreation will be holding its annual Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning.

You can take part in the 5k Run/Walk starting at Hamilton Community Center & Ice Arena on Lincoln Park Drive at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning.

There will also be a virtual element. ​You are encouraged to post photos or videos of your 5K run or walk with your family and friends before Sunday.

Donations will be accepted for the Chuck Wilt Youth Scholarship Fund. The fund approves up to $140 per child per calendar year to cover the cost of sports or recreation programs they may not otherwise be able to experience.

Pre-registration is encouraged. You can find more information here.