Monthly Archives: March 2016

Community clean-up set to begin

First Christian Church, in collaboration with Cummins CES High Horsepower Division and the City of Columbus, will be conducting the annual “Green-Up Clean-Up” event.

Robin Hilber, Community Development Programs Coordinator for the city of Columbus, says that this event is developed with ideas similar to those of National Earth Day. She says that it encourages people to become good neighbors through efforts of cleaning up and repairing local neighborhoods, developing relationships between local businesses, churches and residents, and promoting community sustainability for future generations.

Hilber says that on Tuesday, volunteers from Cummins, First Christian Church, and the community will canvass the eight areas of focus. She says these include State Street north to 17th and Washington, east to Gladstone and back south to State Street, as well as the Pence Park Neighborhood.

Hilber says that residents living within the designated areas who would like to request a work order may call First Christian at (812) 379-4491 from Tuesday, April 5th to Friday, April 15th. Services offered include grass mowing, weed eating, trash removal, appliance removal, shrubbery trimming, recycling and one story gutter cleaning. Hilber adds that all services are free of charge for those residents living within the designated areas.

Hilber adds that on Friday, April 22, Cummins CES High Horsepower Division and Columbus Department of Public Works employees will begin day one of the two day Green-Up Clean-Up. She explains that shifts of volunteers will work on large projects such as curb painting, alley clean up and major corridor clean up from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

On Saturday, April 23, Hilber says that First Christian Church members, community volunteers, and Columbus Department of Public Works employees will begin at 8 a.m. Last year, she says that over 125 volunteers worked on more than 130 homes. This year, First Christian Church staff and members, in collaboration with the Columbus Parks and Recreation Foundation, will also be launching a Planting to Pollination Project. Hilber says that this project, aimed at developing lifelong community relationships at a young age, will focus on planting various flowers in Donner Park to help with pollination.

To volunteer for Canvass the Neighborhood on Tuesday, April 5 or to help with the Green-Up on Saturday, April 23, call Dan Wallace of First Christian Church at (812) 379-4491 or email him at: [email protected]. To submit work orders for Green-Up, call Bonnie Jarvis at (812) 379-4491 or email her at: [email protected].

Authors attending Jackson County event

Seventeen Jackson County authors have been invited to display their books at Southern Indiana Center for the Arts (SICA) from April 5th thru May 13th. Executive Director, Darnell Dukes says that a greet and meet reception will be held on Thursday, April 7th from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. He says that participating authors will be on hand to talk about their work and sign purchased books.

“We’re excited to open our galleries to these talented writers, photographers and quilter. The reception will be an excellent time to learn about the authors and the idea(s) behind their works of art, however, if someone cannot make it to the reception, we will have copies available thru mid-May,” said Dukes.

SICA officials say that some of the participating authors are: Don Hill (Ramblings and Recollections), Kevin West (Standing Twenty: Southern Indiana’s Remaining True-Circular Round Barns and Cuba Behind Open Doors), Art Robertson (The Dragonpillar), Cindy Claycamp (Quilts Reflecting the Poetry of James Whitcomb Riley), John Pesta (Safely Buried) and Don Clodfelter (Still a Soldier).

Two Schneck workers honored as Baldridge examiners

Two Schneck Medical Center employees are being honored by the Baldridge performance excellence program for serving on the Baldridge Board of Examiners.

Stephanie Furlow, spokeswoman for the Seymour hospital, said that Tammy Dye, Vice President of Clinical Services and Chief Quality Officer, and Suki Wright, Director of Organizational Excellence and Innovation, are being recognized for their service. Dye is in her sixth year as an examiner and Wright is in her eighth.

The Baldrige Award is the nation’s highest honor for organizational innovation and performance excellence.

Sheriff to hold Hope town meeting

The Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department has announced an upcoming community meeting to be held at the Hope Town Hall.

The meeting will start at 6 p.m. on April 7th and will include Chief Deputy Maj. Chris Lane and other sheriff’s department employees. The goal is to strengthen the partnership between the community and the sheriff’s office and deputies hope that residents and business owners will come to discuss issues of importance to them or to help the sheriff’s department better serve the area.

Summer events to team up in downtown Columbus

Three Columbus summer events will be combining this year on the same day in downtown Columbus, according to organizers.

Steve Leach, with Fun on Fourth LLC, says that the Main Source Bank BBQ, Blues and Brew will be combining with ArtFest and with the  Firecracker 5k Race and all will be held on Saturday June 25th.

Now in its third year, the BBQ, Blues and Brew festival had more than 6,000 people attend last year. Artfest, which normally has been held in August, is moving to the same weekend to avoid competing with other regional art festivals and to join up with the BBQ festival. It will be taking place at Mill Race Park.

The 7th annual Firecracker 5k has normally been held on the last Saturday of June, but it was held at Tipton Lakes.

This year, the race will start at Mill Race Park and end at Fourth and Franklin streets, which will also be the east-side entrance for the barbecue festival. Quaffon Brewing Co. of Nashville will be offering a random $500 prize to one of the race finishers, with the award made from the stage of the festival.

The MainSource Bank BBQ Blues & Brew and the Columbus Artfest are free and family friendly events. The Firecracker 5k will still require pre-registration as well as a nominal fee, which also comes with a race shirt included.

You can get more information at

Veterans and officials gather for clinic ribbon-cutting

State, local and federal officials gathered yesterday at Camp Atterbury for the official dedication of the new Wakeman VA clinic.

Gov. Mike Pence said the new clinic, which opened for business in February, will make for a signficant improvement in veterans’ health care.

“We have made great progress together, working with so many that are gathered here in this room, on behalf of veterans in the state of Indiana,” Pence said. “Today is one more installment, of the commitment that the state of Indiana and the people of the United States of America are making in meeting the needs particularly in the areas of health care — both physical and mental health– of those who have served.”

“Indiana is the proud home of more than half a million men and women who have worn the uniform of the United States,” Pence said. “We cherish that. We are proud of the contribution has made in the storied history of this country to our armed forces.”

Major General Corey Carr, the head of the Indiana National Guard, said veterans deserve the best health care possible and the clinic will allow the VA to provide more specialized health care.

“It has been said that the measure of a society is reflected in how it takes care of veterans,” Carr said. “This facility will continue to solidify our commitment to the care, welfare and well being of those who have worn the cloth of our nation.”… very best health care.”

Carr explained that the Wakeman clinic, and Wakeman hospital during World War II, were named after Col. Frank Wakeman, who was the director training for the surgeon general’s office in 1940. The hospital was, at the time, the largest hospital in the Department of Defense.

“The Indiana National Guard is proud to provide this facility for the Wakeman clinic, which is near to where the Wakeman hospital once stood.” Carr said. “I can tell you how proud I am to be a partner with all of the National Guard and with the VA in the opening of this clinic.”

The clinic is just off the base on 10th Street.

Columbus Police Chief releases statement on Coomes’ arrest

Columbus Police Chief Jon Rohde has spoken out about the Wednesday arrest of former Columbus Police Officer Jeremy R. Coomes. Indiana State Police (ISP) arrested Coomes on a number of drug charges, as well as Official Misconduct, for alleged transgressions during his time as the supervisor of the department’s narcotics unit.

Chief Rohde says that, in October of 2015, he made a request to the ISP to conduct an independent criminal investigation into the alleged actions of Coomes. Rohde says that “police officers must be accountable for their actions and conduct both on and off the job.” He added that police are “expected to adhere to the oath they take and a code of ethics that holds them to the highest of standards.” The Chief says that he wants city residents to “be confident that the officers on the Columbus Police Department will be held to these high standards and the responsibilities of the position in which they are entrusted.”

Rohde went on to say that neither Coomes’ arrest, nor his alleged actions, are “reflective of the hard working men and women of the Columbus Police Department who serve our community with the integrity that is expected of law enforcement professionals.”

City, county officials work together to fight heroin problem

Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop announced a plan during his Tuesday night State of the City Address to further unite the efforts of the Columbus Police Department (CPD) and the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Office to combat the supply of drugs, specifically heroin, in Bartholomew County.

CPD Chief Jon Rohde says that his department and the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Office signed a Memorandum of Understanding earlier this week that will coordinate a Heroin Overdose Response Initiative within Bartholomew County. He says that the purpose of this agreement is to maximize inter-agency cooperation by “establishing consistency among heroin overdose investigation protocols and facilitating intelligence gathering and sharing between the agencies.”

City officials say that this initiative will take much work. Mayor Lienhoop stated, “as we strive to decrease the drug supply in our community, we will continue to partner with other law enforcement entities, health care professionals and other stakeholders to achieve this mission.” He described the Heroin Overdose Response Initiative as a “proactive step to aggressively investigate situations that are likely to help law enforcement identify, target, arrest and assist in the prosecution of individuals and organizations responsible for distributing heroin and other controlled substances in Bartholomew County.”

Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers has been hammering the importance of getting the county’s drug problem under control for some time. In fact, that was one of foundations in his campaign to become Sheriff. Myers said, “Since day one, my focus for the Sheriff’s Office has been on the importance of partnership and cooperation among all law enforcement agencies because, by working together, I knew we could improve our ability to better serve Bartholomew County.” The Sheriff added, “Just as we partnered with CPD and the Prosecutor’s Office in a unique collaboration to establish the Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team (JNET), the Sheriff’s Office and Columbus Police are now partnering in a Heroin Overdose Response Initiative that will be another collaboration not to be underestimated.”

Mayor Lienhoop and Chief Rohde both stated that the community’s drug issues are tied-up in supply and demand. During his State of the City Address, the Mayor noted that, like in the legal economy, demand also dictates supply when it comes to drugs. Lienhoop said that while law-enforcement has been concentrating on suppliers, it’s time to do more to put a dent in the demand for drugs. Rohde says that police will continue to go after suppliers. Mayor Lienhoop indicated that efforts will get underway to target the addicts that make up the demand. He noted that there are too few resources available to help those addicts who want to turn their lives around.

City and county officials stress that even though this new partnership is off to a good start, results won’t be immediately evident. “Change will not happen overnight,” said Mayor Lienhoop, who noted that there is much hard work ahead in fighting the area’s drug problem. Despite the resources need, he says that this is a battle worth fighting, and winning.

Former Columbus police officer arrested

 Jeremy R. Coomes
Jeremy R. Coomes

A former Columbus police officer, involved in missing drugs from the department’s evidence room, was arrested Wednesday.

Indiana State Police report that 38-year-old Jeremy R. Coomes was arrested on charges including:

  •  Possession of Methamphetamine, level 6 felony
  •  Possession of Cocaine, level 6 felony
  •  Possession of a Narcotic Drug, level 6 felony
  •  Theft, level 5 felony
  •  Theft, class A misdemeanor (2 counts)
  •  Possession of a Controlled Substance, class A misdemeanor
  •   Possession of Marijuana, class B misdemeanor
  •   Official Misconduct, level 6 felony

The case began in October when Columbus police discovered during an audit that narcotics were missing from the evidence room. Coomes resigned that month and the case was referred to the Indiana State Police, according to Sgt. Stephen Wheeles, spokesman for the state agency.

Detective Joe Loyd, of the Indiana State Police Versailles Post, was assigned to conduct the the investigation.

According to Wheeles, Coomes became a Columbus police officer in 2005 and held the position of supervisor of the city’s narcotics unit from December 2011 until October.

During the time that he was the narcotics supervisor, Coomes allegedly removed various kinds of drugs from the Columbus Police Department’s evidence room, according to Wheeles. State police alleged that Coomes never returned some of those items of evidence and in some cases, returned items different from the evidence he originally signed out.  Wheeles said that was outside of the scope of Coomes official job responsibilities.

Wheeles said that the case was presented to a special prosecutor and a warrant was issued for Coomes today by Bartholomew Circuit Court. Coomes was arrested this afternoon at a Columbus address, Wheeles said.


Seymour medical facility recognized

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) has announced that Family Medical Center of Seymour has received NCQA Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) Recognition. Stephanie Furlow, Schneck Medical Center’s Director of Marketing and Public Relations, says the recognition is the result of center using “evidence-based, patient-centered processes that focus on highly coordinated care and long‐term, participative relationships.”

“NCQA Patient-Centered Medical Home Recognition raises the bar in defining high-quality care by emphasizing access, health information technology and coordinated care focused on patients,” said NCQA President Margaret E. O’Kane. “Recognition shows that Family Medical Center has the tools, systems and resources to provide its patients with the right care, at the right time.”

Furlow says that Family Medical Center is partner of Inspire Health Partners. She says that Inspire is a community-based provider network in Indiana that ensures patients get the right health care, at the right time, in the right setting, in the most cost-effective manner.