Monthly Archives: November 2016

Purdue Polytechnic Columbus receives scholarship endowment

Purdue Polytechnic Columbus recently received a $50,000 gift to endow a scholarship for students pursuing a degree at the school. City officials say the gift was given to endow a scholarship in memory of Helen and Adrian Minnick, who were active in promoting both educational and community initiatives during their lives.

The Helen and Adrian Minnick Scholarship will award a scholarship of approximately $2,500 each year, beginning in the fall of 2018 to a student pursuing a degree at Purdue Polytechnic Columbus, say city officials. They add that the initial gift of $50,000 will be used to endow the scholarship for perpetuity, allowing the Minnick’s to assist students for decades to come.

“This extraordinary gift will immediately impact our students,” said Dr. Joe Fuehne, Director of Purdue Polytechnic Columbus. “We are excited to offer this scholarship opportunity to our students and we are humbled by the generosity of the gift. This will allow a student to pursue a Purdue degree who may not have had the means to do so otherwise.”

Local grandmothers work to raise HIV/AIDS awareness

A local group has wrapped knitted scarves around trees and signposts in downtown Columbus as a way to draw attention to the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Volunteer Liam helps to hang scarves along Washington Street
Volunteer Liam helps to hang scarves along Washington Street

The Granny Connection encourages awareness of Africa’s grandmothers and their struggle in the fight against the deadly disease by building support through grandmothers in Columbus. Volunteers walked up and down Washington Street Wednesday evening, placing scarves for those who need or want them. The scarves contain a message of encouragement to remember those battling HIV/AIDS.

The Granny Connection says that it supports the Power of Love Foundation by strengthening affected communities in Matero, Zambia financially. The organization says that is done by “empowering women and grandmothers to become self-reliant.” These women are provided with resources such as micro-loans, business training, food, medicines and healthcare services for their HIV-positive grandchildren.

Thursday, Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day. To mark this day, “A Conversation with Bryan C. Jones” will be held at the Columbus Learning Center from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Jones is described as a “Dramatist and AIDS Activist.”

For more on this event, as well as the Granny Connection, visit

Bartholomew County part of offender pilot-program

Bartholomew County is in its second month of a pilot-program aimed, in part, at reducing the local jail population. Joe Meek, Magistrate of Superior Court II, explains…

Meek says that the gist of the program is to keep those at low-risk of offending again, out of jail, at least until their cases are resolved. He says that there is a list of criteria that helps to determine if an offender can be released…

As for who makes the decision on who is released and who isn’t…

Meek adds that at the end of this three-year pilot program, which is sponsored by the Indiana Supreme Court, action may be taken to expand it statewide.

Pastors aim to help students deal with harassment

Students of ethnic and minority groups in the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation have expressed concerns over being the target of harassment. Recently, BCSC officials say that there were incidents of Latino students being taunted after the election of Donald Trump.

A group of local pastors are putting on an event this Saturday afternoon aimed at helping students in grade 6 through grade 12 who are, or may be, the recipients of unwelcome behavior. Tony McClendon is a member of the Columbus Human Rights Commission. He says that it’s not enough to tell students not to respond physically…

Saturday’s event, scheduled for 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Calvary Community Church, is sponsored by the African-American Pastors’ Alliance. The church is located at 1031 Chestnut Street in Columbus. Organizers say that pizza will be provided.

Supporters to cleanse church of hateful graffiti

Supporters of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Brown County will be gathering tonight to help remove hateful graffiti spray-painted on the side of the chapel earlier this month.

When parishioners came into the Bean Blossom church the morning of Nov. 13th, they found the graffiti including a swastika, an anti-gay slur and “Heil Trump.”

The church will be hosting a service called Replacing Darkness with Light: Overcoming Hate with Love from 5 to 7:30 tonight to remove the graffiti. That will be followed by a healing service and church supper.

The church is at the corner of State Road 135 and 45. For more information, you can call the church at 812-988-10 38 or go online to

Health department offers needle disposal

The Bartholomew County Health Department is offering a program to help you dispose of needles, lancets and other sharp medical waste.

Next week is the start of Sharps Recycle Weeks. If you bring your used needles in their current container to the health department offices at 2675 Foxpointe Drive, you can trade them for a red sharps disposal container. When you fill that container you will be able to trade it in for a new container.

You must have a valid prescription that requires needle use to receive the new sharps container.

The promotion runs from Dec. 5th through the 16th.

For more information you can call the health department at 812-379-1555 and hit option 1. The Bartholomew County Health Department is open Monday through Friday, from 8 to 4.

Still time to Grant-A-Wish for local not-for-profit group

There is still time to make a big impact on a local not-for-profit group. The Grant-A-Wish program through Heritage Fund:

The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County will be matching, dollar-for-dollar, donations made through the program. That is through the backing of Elwood Staffing and Mainsource Bank.

Local not-for-profits have put together wish lists of projects they need help with and suggested donation amounts. The program limits each organization to $3,000 total, with a cap of $500 per individual donation or $1,000 per family.

The program runs through Dec. 19th.

For more information you can call the Heritage Fund at 812-376-7772.

Heritage Fund Grant A Wish program

Toyota to add 71 new headquarters jobs

The governor’s office is announcing this morning that  Toyota Material Handling USA is planning to add 71 new jobs in Columbus by 2019.

According to the announcement, the new jobs are tied with the company’s relocation of its corporate headquarters from Irvine, Calif. to Columbus several years ago. The new jobs will be salaried, professional positions and will offer an average salary of more than double the state’s average wage.

The state press release:

Toyota Forklifts Adding High-Wage Jobs in Indiana

Columbus – Toyota Material Handling, U.S.A., Inc. (TMHU), a full-line material handling solutions provider of forklifts and related equipment, announced plans to strengthen its workforce in Columbus, creating up to 71 new high-wage jobs by 2019.

“Indiana’s economy is built for growing companies like TMHU,” said Governor Mike Pence. “TMHU chose to bring its headquarters here as our state was developing one of the nation’s top climates for job creation, putting Hoosiers at the helm of one of the top businesses in the heavy equipment industry. Today, as TMHU announces that it is adding even more high-wage jobs for Hoosiers, Indiana stands as one of the top-ranked economies in the nation.”

TMHU relocated its headquarters from Irvine, California, to Columbus in 2012 after investing $4.6 million to expand its office here. The company has added 79 new positions in Indiana since relocating and is now investing in employee-focused initiatives to further strengthen its workforce. Toyota recently constructed a new restaurant-style dining hall, which opened in July, and is now building a new wellness center, the Toyota Recreational Complex, to provide more health and wellness opportunities to its employees through a basketball court, track, fitness equipment and group exercise classes.

TMHU, which currently employs 182 full-time associates, plans to primarily hire for salaried professionals working in a corporate environment. New positions are expected to pay an average salary of more than double the state average wage. Interested applicants may apply online at

“Relocating TMHU’s headquarters to Columbus was a great move for us,” said Tracy Stachniak, director of human resources and training and development at TMHU. “Indiana offers a robust economy, Midwest hospitality and an attractive overall lifestyle. It’s a great place to work and live.”

TMHU is physically connected to Toyota Industrial Equipment Mfg. Inc., a zero-landfill manufacturing facility where the majority of Toyota forklifts sold in North America are built. Both operations as well as two additional Toyota sister companies make up Toyota’s 126-acre campus in Columbus, which employs a network of more than 1,400 Hoosiers.

Founded in 1967, TMHU is the material handling division of its sister company, Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing (TIEM). A subsidiary of Japan-based Toyota Industries Corporation, the company manufactures and distributes forklifts, reach trucks, order pickers, pallet jacks, tow tractors and AGVs. TMHU celebrated its 25th anniversary of operating in Indiana just last year, after locating its first North American forklift manufacturing facility in Columbus in 1990. Toyota Forklifts has been the top-selling lift truck brand in North America since 2002, generating revenue of $8.2 billion in 2015 and sales growth of 8.2 percent over 2014.

“Columbus, Indiana, is proud to be home to the highest concentration of Japanese investment in Indiana,” said Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop. “TMHU and TIEM each have great reputations as being a place that people want to work, and this latest investment further strengthens their standing in and around south central Indiana as being a preferred employer of choice.”

Today’s announcement continues a trend of investments from across the Toyota brand of companies in Indiana. In May, Lt. Governor Eric Holcomb joined executives at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana in Princeton – where it has announced expansions three of the last four years – to celebrate the automaker’s 20th anniversary of assembling cars in southwest Indiana. And in July, auto supplier Toyota Boshoku Indiana announced plans to expand in Indiana, adding 160 new jobs in Princeton this year to produce vehicle seats and doors for the new Toyota Highlander.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered TMHU up to $100,000 in performance-based training grants based on the company’s job creation plans. In August, the city of Columbus approved a tax abatement in support of a separate $3 million investment by TIEM.

TMHU is the 12th Japanese company just this year to announce job creation plans in Indiana. Together, these companies plan to create more than 900 new Hoosier jobs. Among all states, Indiana has the largest amount of Japanese investment per capita, with more than 53,000 Hoosiers working at upwards of 260 Japan-owned business facilities across the state.

‘Smart Choice’ health insurance program begins Wednesday morning

The Purdue Extension Office wants to help you better understand your health insurance options. Harriet Armstrong explains…

Armstrong says that these events are called “Smart Choice Health Insurance.” The first event is being held Tuesday morning from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Bartholomew County Library. In addition, Armstrong says that a second, evening event, is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 12, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. It will also be held at the library.

If you would like to attend either of these sessions, you are asked to register in advance by calling the library at (812) 379-1255.

Sheriff’s Department searching for Sowers

The Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department is asking for your help locating this week’s most-wanted fugitive.

David Sowers, Jr; photo courtesy of the Bartholomew County Sheriff's Dept.
David Sowers, Jr; photo courtesy of the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Dept.

Judy Jackson, department spokeswoman, says that detectives are looking for 51-year-old David Sowers, Jr. He is described as a white male, standing five-feet seven-inches tall and weighing 160 pounds. Authorities say that Sowers has brown hair, brown eyes and multiple tattoos. Jackson says that Sowers is wanted on an outstanding warrant.

If you have any information on Sowers’ whereabouts, you are asked to contact Capt. Dave Steinkoenig at (812) 565-5940. You can also call the department’s Tip Line at (812) 379-1712 or send an email to [email protected]. Jackson says that tips and information can be left anonymously.