Immunization clinic set next weekend at St. Paul’s

The Indiana Immunization Coalition will be holding a community immunization clinic at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Columbus next week.

The church is at 2651 California Street in Columbus and the clinic will be from 9 to 12 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11th.

Everyone who takes part will be vaccinated with all of the CDC recommended vaccines. The clinic will consult the state immunization registry to see what vaccines you are missing.
You can register online at patients.vaxcare.com/registration and use the enrollment code IN 65942.

You should bring your insurance card as the coalition will accept and bill all insurance carriers. There is no cost for anyone without insurance, except for the Shingles vaccine.

State troopers warn of scammers spoofing law enforcement

Indiana State Police are warning of an ongoing scam that tries to get you to pay money to solve an outstanding warrant, claiming to be a phone call from state troopers.

According to state police reports, scammers are spoofing caller ID, making the call appear to come from a state police post, and with the state police post phone number. The scammers then pretend to be troopers telling you that there is a warrant for your arrest and then they try to get you to disclose personal and financial information to supposedly take care of the fake warrant.

But state police will not call asking for your social security number, bank account or credit card numbers. The recent calls claim to come from State Police Post 52 with a 317 area code.

State police say that these these types of phone scammers are persuasive and technically savvy. Scammers will often play on your emotions and fears to get to your money.

The easiest way to protect yourself from being scammed over the phone is either to ignore unsolicited calls from unknown callers or just hang up when something doesn’t seem right.

You should NEVER provide any information over the phone to an unknown caller.

If you feel you may have fallen victim to a phone scammer immediately report the incident to your local law enforcement agency.

Local Black history exhibit on display at The Commons

A new black history exhibit will be displayed in The Commons through February in recognition of Black History Month.

The exhibit “And Still We Rise” is meant to give a comprehensive overview of the history of African Americans in Columbus. Organizers say it documents the local Black community’s resilience, perseverance, faith and love.

An unveiling of the exhibit, remarks from the program manager for Black History Month in Columbus and a reading of a proclamation declaring Black History Month here by the mayor, will happen at a ceremony starting at 4 p.m. this afternoon at The Commons.

The event is free and you are invited to attend.

You can get more information at blackhistorycolumbus.com

NAACP honors residents, organization with awards

The local NAACP branch is announcing the award winners from this weekend’s Martin Luther King Jr. Remembrance and Awards Gala.

NAACP Branch 3071 in Columbus honored Paulette Roberts and Ron Thompson with the Outstanding Citizen Awards and the Outstanding Business Awards were presented to Trainer Connect and Cabrina’s Safe Haven.

Jaxson Scruggs received the Outstanding Athlete award and Zacaria Scruggs was the recipient of the Outstanding Student award. The NAACP Distinguished Service Awards went to Roxanne Stallsworth and Heritage Fund of Bartholomew County.

The event was held Saturday evening at Mill Race Center.

Jennings jail officers finish mental health first aid training

Jennings County Jail officers have completed training in Mental Health First Aid for public safety.

The sheriff’s department announced last week that officers had finished the training, an 8-hour program that gives officers the skills to provide initial support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance abuse problem and help to connect them to appropriate care. The training focuses on the needs of public safety personnel, and is a valuable resource that can make a positive difference in officers’ lives and their communities, according to the sheriff’s department.

The program is offered by Advanced Correctional Healthcare, Inc. through a partnership with Freedom Behavioral Health, Inc. Dr. Melissa Caldwell, with Freedom Behavioral Health said that detention facilities are facing rising suicide rates and officers need tools to maintain personal wellness while deescalating crises in the workplace.

Jennings County Jail employs 39 staff members.

City looks to trim zoning jurisdiction

The city of Columbus is making plans to pull back portions of its two-mile zoning authority, giving control back to Bartholomew County.

Under Indiana law, cities can extend their zoning control into areas outside of city limits, up to two miles. Those in that expanded area must seek approval from the city before making changes regulated by zoning ordinances such as land use, despite living in the county. The current zoning limits were put in place in 1999 and refined in 2000.

Next week, the Columbus Plan Commission will be considering two areas to draw back areas under its control, including the area around Otter Creek Golf Course, and to the Colony Parke and Oakcrest subdivisions in the Taylorsville area.

As of last year, Otter Creek is no longer owned by the city of Columbus, leading to the suggested change there, while the northern subdivisions were accidentally split between city and county control when the original boundary lines were drawn, leading to that suggested change.

The Columbus Plan Commission meets at 4 p.m. next Wednesday at Columbus City Hall and the meeting can be attended remotely.

Image courtesy of Columbus-Bartholomew County Planning Department.

News Release (PDF Download)

Two Jennings County students arrested over threat accusations

Two students were arrested at Jennings County High School Monday morning after threats were made to the school.

According to information from the North Vernon Police Department, a school resource officer was notified by Jennings County High School staff about an incident reported by a student. The witness overheard another student make an intimidating statement threatening the school while getting off of a bus. The student was identified and taken from the classroom. A search of the student’s backpack did not find anything dangerous. However, the student allegedly admitted to making the threatening statement. With the aid of Jennings County Juvenile Probation, the student was arrested and taken to a juvenile detention facility.

Later that morning, the school staff received more information about the bomb threat last week sent by iPhone air drop. The student was interviewed by detectives and police say she admitted to sending the message in the cafeteria that led to the school’s evacuation on Thursday. She was arrested on a charge of intimidation.

Police say that statements made through social media or electronically are treated the same as if the threats were made in person. Officers encourage parents to impress upon their children the severity of the students’ actions and their consequences.

IUPUC announces Excellence in Diversity award winners

Jon Padfield. Photo courtesy of IUPUC.

IUPUC recognized the winners of its Excellence in Diversity Awards at the NAACP Martin Luther King Jr. Remembrance and Awards Gala Saturday. Those went to associate professor of mathematics Jon Padfield and the United Way of Bartholomew County.

Padfield was recognized for a campus initiative which provided customized Six Sigma training to black women in leadership positions, so the skills could be used to address issues that impact the Black community and workforce. The training was part of the IUPUC Center for Business and Economic Development cohort in partnership with The Six Sigma Racial Equity Institute.

The United Way was recognized for community initiative for its involvement in the Columbus Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. The task force works to identify and to address issues of discrimination, prejudice, and bias in the community. United Way of Bartholomew County supports local organizations including the Columbus Area Diversity Council, the Columbus African American Heritage Museum, and the Columbus Pride Festival.

Arrest made in local business thefts

Jeron McDonald. Photo courtesy of Columbus Police Department.

Columbus police say an investigation has led to the arrest of a man believed to have stolen cash registers, money and lottery tickets from several businesses.

According to reports from Columbus Police Department, officers began investigating a burglary in the 1700 block of State Street on Thursday after a rock was thrown through a glass door and a cash register taken. After watching video of the incident, police identified 27-year-old Jeron McDonald of a Columbus as a suspect.

A police dog followed the suspect’s trail and the cash register was recovered in an alley near an apartment building on South Cherry Street where the tracks ended. Police blocked off the area and found and arrested McDonald. A search of his apartment uncovered a large amount of cash as well as lottery tickets stolen in an earlier burglary.

McDonald was arrested on preliminary charges of burglary, possession of stolen property, and criminal mischief. Police say additional charges are possible and the investigation is ongoing.

Evidence photo courtesy of Columbus Police Department

Area conservation officer of the year named

Conservation Officer Nick Wilson. Photo courtesy of Indiana Conservation Officers

Indiana Department of Natural Resources is announcing the conservation officer of the year for the district that includes Bartholomew, Brown, Johnson and Shelby Counties.

Conservation Officer Nick Wilson is assigned to Hendricks County where he has served since 2018. Before transferring, he served in Marion County.

In addition to his normal duties as a field officer, Wilson serves as a background investigator, public safety diver, passenger for hire inspector, river rescue instructor, field training officer, and airboat operator.

The district award puts Wilson in the running for the Pitzer Award. The award recognizes Officer James D. Pitzer, who was fatally shot in 1961. The winner each year is selected from the 10 district winners.

District 6 also includes Hendricks, Marion, Hancock, Morgan, and Monroe counties.