Monthly Archives: November 2017

City leaders discuss riverfront project

There are many opportunities as it relates to Columbus’ downtown riverfront. That was the message shared during Thursday night’s presentation by many of the players involved during a joint meeting of the City Council and Redevelopment Commission.

The Hitchcock Design Group led the discussion of the proposal, which includes a walking and cycling connection taking people under the Second Street bridge and connecting it to Mill Race Park. Organizers say the idea is to essentially “extend the atmosphere” of the park further downstream. The proposal also includes a white water park approximately 700 feet in length with three drops that would be attractive to kayakers and others who would like to play in the water. Scott Shipley, a recreational specialist and consultant hired by the city, explained that for every one person who will play in the water, seven others will want to enjoy the riverfront without getting wet. With that, the plan includes terraces and paths where people can congregate and take in the river and activities. Other key parts of the proposal include the removal of the low-head dam and the stabilization of both the east and west banks of the river.

The estimated cost for the project is $8.6 million. It breaks down as follows:

Trail connections – $1,946,000
Bank stabilization – $3,474,000
Dam removal – $2,369,000
Amenities – $815,000

While work on preliminary designs for a so-called “play-through park” on the west bank has been done, those plans were not discussed as the design team says it didn’t want to get away from the core focus of the project. Heather Pope, the city’s director of redevelopment, explains the price tag.


Pope noted that there is still a long way to go before this plan can become a reality. She explains what happens next.


After that, the city would need to engage a design firm to come up with construction documents in the hopes of clearing regulatory hurdles. Even then, Pope says that getting approval from regulators could prove challenging. No official action was taken during Thursday night’s meeting.

Messer files legislation targeting harassment in Congress

Congressman Luke Messer, a Republican representing Indiana’s 6th Congressional District, filed legislation on Thursday to better protect victims of sexual assault and harassment in Congress.

Messer’s bill would ensure victims aren’t silenced by non-disclosure agreements, and prohibit taxpayer dollars from being used to settle sexual harassment claims with members of Congress.

“Members of Congress should not treat taxpayer dollars like a slush fund to settle sexual harassment charges, and my legislation would put a stop to it,” Messer said. “It would also empower the victims who want to tell their story to come forward and do so.”

The Empowering Victims of Sexual Misconduct Act would release Congressional staff from current non-disclosure agreements signed as part of a sexual assault settlement with a Member of Congress, and prohibit non-disclosure agreements like this in the future. It would also prevent taxpayer dollars from being used to settle sexual harassment claims by a member of Congress or employee of the House or Senate. Additionally, the bill would require previous settlements that were paid out with taxpayer dollars involving members of Congress to be reimbursed to the U.S. Treasury.

This effort by Messer follows recent reports that Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) settled a sexual harassment complaint with a former staff member using taxpayer dollars. The Associated Press reports that the government has paid more than $17 million in taxpayer money over the last 20 years to settle sexual harassment claims and other workplace violations filed by employees of Congress.

Congressional leadership of both parties have called for Conyers to resign.

State Police arrest five after drug bust

Five people were arrested this week in Monroe County after detectives with the Indiana State Police Drug Enforcement Section and Troopers with the ISP Bloomington District A.C.E.S. (Aggressive Criminal Enforcement Section) served a search warrant in the 4500 block of Old State Road 37 South in Bloomington. Authorities say that the warrant was obtained after an investigation of alleged drug dealing activities at the home. Information led detectives to believe that 31-year-old Robert Merek, of Bloomington, who was currently on home detention monitoring by the Monroe County Probation Department, was dealing methamphetamine.

Once Indiana State Troopers arrived at the home, Merek allegedly jumped out of a bedroom window and fled. He was caught after a short foot pursuit. Police say a search of the home revealed 35 grams of methamphetamine and a gun. In addition, troopers say they recovered heroin, hypodermic syringes, marijuana, and multiple controlled substance pills.

The residents of the home, Merek and Hayley Sipes, were both arrested on multiple drug related charges. Upon arrival at the jail, Sipes was found by Jail Officers attempting to smuggle multiple narcotic pills into the jail by hiding them in her bra.

The Indiana State Police continued with the investigation and on Wednesday, DES detectives observed multiple suspected drug dealers arrive at the same home. Contact with these suspects resulted in officers locating 28 grams of heroin in the possession of 26-year-old Jerrel Lane, of Detroit, Michigan. Lane was also allegedly in possession of over 200 narcotic pills, which were packaged for sale. In addition, 21-year-old Elijah Bowles, of Martinsville, was found to be in possession of a handgun without a license. Police say that 23-year-old Hali Bales, of Mooresville, who originally gave officers a false name and identifying information, was positively identified and found to be wanted on multiple felony arrest warrants including aggravated battery posing a substantial risk of death and battery by means of a deadly weapon.

ISP say that as Elijah Bowles was being processed at the Monroe County Jail, jail officers found him attempting to smuggle approximately nine grams of methamphetamine into the facility by concealing it in his underwear.


Robert Merek, 31 of Bloomington
-Dealing Methamphetamine, Level 2 Felony
-Possession of Methamphetamine, Level 4 Felony
-Maintaining a common nuisance, Level 6 Felony
-Possession of a narcotic drug, Level 6 Felony (four counts)
-Possession of a syringe, Level 6 Felony
-Resisting Law Enforcement, Class A Misdemeanor
-Possession of Marijuana, Class B Misdemeanor
-Possession of Paraphernalia, Class C Misdemeanor

Hayley Sipes, 23 of Bloomington
-Dealing Methamphetamine, Level 2 Felony
-Possession of Methamphetamine, Level 4 Felony
-Maintaining a common nuisance, Level 6 Felony
-Possession of a narcotic drug, Level 6 Felony (four counts)
-Possession of a syringe, Level 6 Felony
-Trafficking with an inmate, Level 5 Felony
-Possession of Marijuana, Class B Misdemeanor
-Possession of Paraphernalia, Class C Misdemeanor

Hali Bales, 23 of Mooresville
-Warrant Morgan Co.
Aggravated Battery Use when the assault poses a substantial risk of death, Level 3 Felony
Battery Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury, Level 5 Felony
Battery by Means of a Deadly Weapon, Level 5 Felony
Criminal Recklessness committed with a deadly weapon, Level 6 Felony
-False Informing, Class A Misdemeanor
-False Identity Statement, Level 6 Felony

Elijah N. Bowles, 21 of Martinsville
-Dealing Methamphetamine, Level 2 Felony
-Possession of Methamphetamine, Level 4 Felony
-Trafficking with an inmate, Level 5 Felony
-Possession of a handgun without a license, Class A Misdemeanor

Jerrel R. Lane, 26 of Detroit, Michigan
-Dealing Heroin, Level 2 Felony
-Possession of heroin, Level 4 Felony
-Dealing a narcotic drug, Level 6 Felony (three counts)
-Possession of a Narcotic drug, level 6 Felony (three counts)
-Maintaining a Common Nuisance, Level 6 Felony

The investigation is ongoing.

Franklin arrest takes 15 pounds of marijuana out of circulation

Franklin Police and deputies from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Franklin man on drug charges Wednesday after serving a search warrant at a home in the 2400 block of Graham Road. Franklin Police say that a search of the home resulted in detectives finding more than 15 pounds of marijuana with a street value of approximately $30,000, along with six guns and $1,044 in cash. Authorities say the search warrant was based on a drug investigation by the Franklin Special Investigators.

Police arrested Jeffrey H. Taylor on a preliminary charge of Dealing in over 10 pounds of Marijuana, a Level 5 Felony.

Christmas celebrations this weekend in Columbus

You are invited to celebrate the Christmas season this weekend in downtown Columbus. Shanda Sasse, manager of the Commons, explains that the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department will be hosting the Christmas Village Winter Wonderland on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Commons.

After the Christmas Village wraps up, you’re invited to stick around downtown and enjoy the Festival of Lights Parade, which begins at 6 p.m. Saturday’s festivities are free and you are invited.

First Fridays kicks off season with new take on Dickens classic

The season’s premiere First Fridays for Families performance is set for tomorrow night.

“A Dickens’ Tale” will be performed at 6 p.m. in the upstairs area of The Commons in downtown Columbus. This free event is a play based on the classic Christmas tale, “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. You are encouraged to take part in this family-friendly event.

According to the agency, “Celebrate the holiday season with Old Scrooge, bumbling Bob Cratchit, one hilarious beggar woman and all the delightful ghostly visitors in this heartwarming tale of friendship and generosity.”

First Fridays for Families are organized by the Columbus Area Arts Council and this showing is sponsored by Old National Bank and the city of Columbus. You can find out more about Arts Council programming at

Wanted man accused of fleeing on bicycle

Thomas D. Crouch. Photo courtesy of Columbus Police Department.

Columbus police say that they used a Taser to arrest a wanted man Wednesday morning.

An officer saw 46-year-old Thomas D. Crouch riding a bicycle near 7th and Central Avenue at about 9 a.m. yesterday morning and recognized that Crouch was wanted on a warrant. When the officer tried to get Crouch to stop, he instead took off on the bike. Other officers got involved in the chase and finally caught up to Crouch in the 2100 block of 7th Street, where he refused to stop again.

An officer used the Taser to subdue Crouch says Lt Matt Harris, spokesman for the Columbus Police. Crouch was taken to Columbus Regional Hospital to be checked out and then arrested on a new charge of resisting law enforcement, as well as the outstanding warrant.

INDOT schedules work on I-65 between Seymour and Columbus

Indiana Department of Transportation’s contractor for constructing six lanes of Interstate 65 in Bartholomew and Jackson counties has scheduled crews to repair potholes and replace damaged guardrail. INDOT says that E&B Paving is the contractor for the $143 million project between U.S. Highway 50 at Seymour and State Road 58, just south of Columbus. Crews are slated to perform maintenance operations on the northbound and southbound lanes of I-65 between mile markers 49.1 and 67.1 Thursday and Friday.

INDOT says that you may experience single-lane restrictions where crews are working during overnight hours from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Some shoulder and median work, which will not require lane closures, will be done during daytime hours.

Actual construction for the I-65 six-lane project is expected to begin next spring.

Tree removal underway near railroad bridge

As part of preliminary work to upgrade the railroad bridge at the Flat Rock River crossing in Noblitt Park in Columbus, crews have begun tree removal in the area. City officials say that work is expected to continue over several weeks as numerous trees are removed to allow for room for cranes and equipment to move into the area for bridge construction.

Residents near the area may see temporary railroad stakes in the area of the bridge about 45 feet from the tracks. You are urged to be observant and obey all marked barricades and warning signs so that crews may safely do their work.

Columbus officials say that construction on the bridge is expected to begin in March with an estimated budget of $12 million. You can stay up to date by visiting the Columbus Railroad Project website at

Missing license plate leads to drug arrest

Daniel T. Elifritz. Photo courtesy of Columbus Police Department.

The lack of a license plate on a trailer, led to a local man’s arrest on drug charges.

51-year-old Daniel T. Elifritz of Columbus is facing preliminary charges of possession of methamphetamine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia after the traffic stop yesterday afternoon.

Columbus police say that they noticed the trailer he was pulling did not have a license plate and pulled him over at about 5:20 p.m. in the 600 block of Chestnut Street. Police report that they saw a clear bag containing narcotics inside the vehicle. After he was taken into custody, police also allegedly found methamphetamine and marijuana when they searched his clothing.