Monthly Archives: June 2016

Holiday hours take effect for fireworks displays

Tonight is the first night of changes to state-mandated hours that fireworks can be fired off around the Fourth of July holiday, according to the Indiana fire marshall.

On June 29th through July 3rd and then on July 5th through July 9th, fireworks are only allowed between 5 p.m. and two hours after sunset. That would be 11:14 tonight.

On holidays, including the Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Labor Day, fireworks are allowed from 10 a.m. until midnight.

Outside of the holidays and the surrounding days, fireworks are allowed from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. While municipalities are not allowed to alter the hours around and on holidays, cities and towns can choose to limit these hours.

The fire marshal’s office says that fireworks are only allowed on your own property, on property where you have permission to fire off fireworks, or on specially designated fireworks spaces in the community.

Capt. Mike Wilson, spokesman for the Columbus Fire Department, urges caution with fireworks and says the safest place to watch fireworks is at a professional fireworks display. Wilson also said that you can be held liable for any damage to other people’s property that your fireworks cause.

Wilson also said that while fireworks are legal, it is always a good idea to keep your neighbors informed of your fireworks plans.

Jackson County United Way to hold ‘community conversation’

The Jackson County United Way and Jackson County Public Library are partnering throughout the county to participate in what is being called a community conversation initiative. The organizations have hosted nearly 20 conversations in the last three months and will host another 10 in the next month. The next conversation is scheduled for Thursday at the Jackson County Public Library in Seymour from 5:45 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.

Tonja Couch, executive director of the Jackson County United Way, says that each conversation is a better chance for the organization to understand people’s aspirations, concerns, and what actions they believe might make a difference in strengthening the community. Thursday’s conversation, she says, is specifically focused on “learning more about aspirations, concerns, and actions regarding a safe and drug free community. These structured dialogues ask very specific questions to learn more about our county resident’s values and thoughts about the future of Jackson County.”

If you are interested in attending Thursday’s event, which is focused on a safe and drug free community, Couch urges you to register through the JCPL’s program calendar at, or call (812)-522-3412. She says that Thursday’s conversation is limited to 20 participants. Couch says that if there is overwhelming response, there will be another conversation hosted on this topic.

Bartholomew County Democrats dine Thursday

The Bartholomew County Democrat Party is having it’s next quarterly dinner on Thursday evening. Former party chairwoman Priscilla Scalf says it will be held at 6 p.m. at the Donner Shelter House.

The guest speaker for the event Robin Winston, a business owner and political advisor from Indianapolis. A former advisor to Governor Frank O’Bannon, Scalf says that Winston was the first African-American to become the Chair of a major political party in Indiana.

Scalf says that Winston recently completed a capital campaign for the Levi Coffin House, a project with the Indiana State Museum commemorating a major component of Indiana’s underground railroad. The project was listed by Smithsonian Magazine in its international list of places to see in 2016. Scalf notes that Winston also helped to produce the film “Indiana Trailblazers.” She explains that the movie is an Emmy-nominated film which highlights the role of Indiana leaders of the Civil Rights movement.

Scalf says that tickets to Thursday’s dinner remain. They are $15 and can be purchased in advance by calling Jessie Hill at (812) 378-4264.

Former Cummins executive to be honored by EPA

A former Cummins executive is set to be honored by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Cummins officials say that Dr. John C. Wall, former Vice President and Chief Technical Officer at Cummins, will receive the Thomas W. Zosel Individual Achievement Award from the EPA during a ceremony for the 2016 Clean Air Excellence Awards.

“It’s hard to overstate John’s impact on our company, our industry and the environment. In addition to shaping emissions technology, he also helped shape emissions policy around the world,” said Jennifer Rumsey, Vice President and Chief Technical Officer at Cummins. “John was a mentor to me and so many others at Cummins, and his work continues to inspire countless engineers and their future innovations.”

Cummins officials say that Dr. Wall played a key role in advancing the landmark 2010 emissions standards, as well as the first commercial vehicle greenhouse gas and fuel consumption standards.

Dr. Wall retired as Chief Technical Officer for Cummins in 2015.

Former Seymour Middle School teacher sentenced

A former Seymour Middle School teacher who pleaded guilty to molesting a child younger than 14 was sentenced to 27-years in prison on Tuesday.

Television station WLKY says that Aaron Murray pleaded guilty to three counts of child molesting last month. He was the then-12-year-old’s math teacher, but also tutored her and spent time with her outside of school, according to the report.

The investigation into Murray began last July, when a parent reported the alleged molestation to the Seymour Police Department. The station cited court documents, in which Murray admitted to police that he kissed and fondled the girl.

The judge suspended six-years of Murray’s sentence.

For more on this story, click this link:

RV destroyed by fire in Brown County

A Florida man’s RV was destroyed Tuesday afternoon in Brown County.

Curt Durnil, spokesman for the Indiana State Police, says that just before 4 p.m., the Brown County 911 Center received numerous calls about an user29383-1467151724-media1RV traveling east on State Road 46 near Green Valley Road. Those calls noted smoke coming from the rear of the vehicle. The driver of the vehicle, Mark Laffoon, of Davenport, FL, reportedly told troopers that the vehicle lost power while driving, but he was able to pull into an empty parking lot. Once Laffoon exited the RV, he noticed flames coming from near the engine area.

user29383-1467151726-media4_7698b1_240_180_PrsMe_Durnil says that no injuries were reported, but the RV is a total loss. There has been no indication as to what led to the fire.

Franklin Police investigate battery, gun robbery

Police in Franklin are investigating an alleged battery and robbery that took place Monday evening at a fast-food restaurant on King Street.

A department spokesperson says that officers responded to the scene at 6:50 p.m. to find a man bleeding from a head injury. The man told officers that he had recently set up the sale of a firearm on a website. The alleged victim explained that he had agreed to meet with a prospective buyer at the scene to conduct the sale. The man reportedly told officers that the would-be buyer, along with another man who accompanied him, attacked him, took the firearm as well as another gun in the victim’s vehicle. The suspects also stole the man’s wallet, according to the report. Police say that the alleged victim declined medical treatment.

The victim was able to provide a description of the men, along with a license plate number for the vehicle they were in. Franklin Police say that they have spoken with a person of interest, but the investigation is ongoing.

Three sent to hospital after crash on State Street

Three people were sent to the hospital after a multi-vehicle crash Monday afternoon on State Street in Bartholomew County. The crash closed State Street for a few hours during rush-hour.

Judy Jackson, spokesperson for the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department, says that deputies were called to the 4800 block of East

2011 Kia Forte, driven by Floyd Smith, of North Vernon; Photo courtesy of the Bartholomew County Sheriff's Dept.
2011 Kia Forte, driven by Floyd Smith, of North Vernon; Photo courtesy of the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Dept.

State Street at 3:35 p.m. When Deputy Adam Warner responded to the scene, he reported that four vehicles were involved in the crash.

Jackson says that investigators believe that a car driven by Ryan Mitchell, 18, of Dupont, was headed east on State Street when it crossed the center-line, causing the driver side of his vehicle to collide with the driver side of a vehicle being driven by Floyd Smith, 58, of North Vernon. Authorities say that collision caused Smith’s vehicle to spin into oncoming eastbound traffic and directly into the path of an SUV driven by Kevin Wiley, 41, of Holton, Indiana. A fourth vehicle, driven by Olivia Pavy, 19, of Bloomington, was traveling west when investigators say it was struck by Mitchell’s car, as it passed.

The Sheriff’s Department says that Wiley, Smith and Smith’s passenger, Jacob Cockerman, 30, of North Vernon, were taken to Columbus

Toyota RAV-4, driven by Kevin Wiley, of Holton, IN; Photo courtesy of the Bartholomew County Sheriff's Dept.
Toyota RAV-4, driven by Kevin Wiley, of Holton, IN; Photo courtesy of the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Dept.

Regional Hospital. Cockerman and Wiley were later transferred to hospitals in Indianapolis, say authorities. Jackson says that Mitchell and Pavy were uninjured and refused treatment at the scene.

Phone and computer scam takes $59k from man

Johnson County authorities are asking for federal help on a phone scam that took more than $59,000 from a local resident.

Sheriff Doug Cox says the scam started with a phone call to a home about two weeks ago, telling the resident that there was a problem with his home computer and that he needed to pay $200 to have tech support look at his computer remotely. The scammer walked the resident through a process on his computer that gave the scammers access remotely and they asked for more money to fix the problem, which the resident paid over the phone from his checking account.

The man realized he had been scammed and filed a police report in Franklin, deputies report.

However, yesterday , deputies were called to a Trafalgar bank. The victim and bank representatives said that with access to the man’s computer, the scammers were able to gain access to his home equity line of credit and then tie that to his bank account. The scammers then moved 10s of thousands of dollars into the checking account, which they convinced the resident they had accidentally moved from their company’s acount. The victim then withdrew the money from his own account and sent it to the scammers.

Cox said deputies are searching the man’s computer for clues and he has asked the FBI to intervene in the case.

Retiring reserve officer to be allowed to keep sidearm

A recently retired North Vernon Reserve Police Officer will get to keep his service weapon but he will have to pay for it..

Reserve Officer Ted Westerman served on the city’s police force for 23-years.

Police Chief James Webster said that when a police officer retires, they are normally gifted their service weapon as a token of appreciation for their service to the department and the city.

However, since Westerman was a reserve officer, the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms views the proposed weapon transfer as a “private transfer.” Because of that, the department had to get a trade-in value estimate from a gun dealer in Vernon and asked North Vernon City Council last night to allow Westerman to purchase the gun.

City Council members voted unanimously to allow the sale of the Sig Sauer .45 caliber handgun by police department to Westerman for $350.

Webster has referred to Westerman’s length-of-service to the department as “one-in-a-million.” The chief said that, in most cases, the best a police force can hope for in today’s era of reserve officers is a stint of six-to-seven-years. Webster called Westerman a “throwback” and praised his commitment to the city and the department, noting that he will be sorely missed.