Monthly Archives: January 2018

Area counties receive grants and nalaxone kits

First responders in three area counties were among those who were awarded $127,000 in nalaxone kits, which are used to counteract drug overdoses. The Indiana State Department of Health announced the awards Wednesday. Officials say the kits will go to 95 first responder agencies serving 34 rural counties. They add that the funding will be used to provide 3,388 naloxone kits, train first responders on usage and “expand referrals to appropriate treatment and recovery communities.”

Jackson, Jennings and Decatur counties are all receiving grants. Officials say the grants were made possible through a four-year, $3.2 million Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grant awarded to ISDH in October of 2017. They are being made available to rural counties with higher emergency room visits for overdoses, a greater number of opioid prescriptions and a lower reported use of naloxone by first responders.

The rural grants are the latest work of the ISDH naloxone distribution program, which has granted more than 13,700 naloxone kits to local health departments to date. Hoosiers in need of naloxone can visit to find locations that carry the medication.

Scholarships available to students seeking careers in law enforcement

Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers announced Wednesday that the Indiana Sheriff’s Association will be awarding college scholarships to qualified high school seniors or college students who are pursuing a degree in criminal justice studies. He says that there will be approximately 40 $500 scholarships awarded throughout the state.

The Indiana Sheriff’s Association Scholarship Fund was established for the purpose of receiving, investing and dispensing funds to provide college scholarships to qualified students who are committed to pursuing an education and career in the law enforcement field.

To qualify for a scholarship, the applicant must be an Indiana resident, be a current member of the association or a dependent child or grandchild of a current member of the association, attend an Indiana college or university, major in a law enforcement field and enroll as a full-time student (12 hours).

Applications can be downloaded from the Indiana Sheriffs’ Association website at They must be completed and received by April 1.

Work continues on establishing a “hub” to help those trapped by addiction

The Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress in Bartholomew County continues its work to establish a “hub” to help those battling addiction. The group held a town-hall style meeting Tuesday night at Community Church of Columbus.

Organizers describe a hub as a centralized location with dedicated staff and volunteers to help those wanting information on how to quit. The hub could also help addicts determine what resources are available to help them. Organizers, as well as a number of former addicts who attended, said that current services that are available locally are difficult to attain and navigate. The goal, they say, is to transition a walk-in or phone call to help within minutes.

Anna Hilycord, with Centerstone, says that one of the most important steps to successfully battle addiction is to reduce its stigma. She stresses that addiction is not a choice, instead calling it a “brain disease.” Hilycord argues that battles with addiction should be talked about among family and friends the same way a cancer diagnosis would be.

Hilycord also took aim at pharmaceutical companies. She says that many are to blame for false marketing, implying that opioids can be used by those suffering from chronic pain without the threat of addiction. Hilycord says that opioids “rewire the brain” after just days of use. She also cited studies that she says indicate that one in 12 people become addicted to opioids after the try them for the first time.

Rhonda Fischer, ASAP Program Manager, told the dozens in attendance that there is no single way to properly treat someone suffering from addiction. Instead, she stresses that there are “several paths to recovery” that the community can draw upon to help fight the opioid epidemic.

The presentation included a discussion about what is needed for the community to “own” a hub. Organizers and attendees agree that strides have been made recently, specifically in regards to education. However, they believed that additional education efforts could occur in schools, the workplace, with medical professionals, social media and via faith-based programs. Other assets needed for the hub include housing, in-patient treatment, out-patient treatment, a partnership with law enforcement and post-treatment support.

Fischer ended the evening by asking those in attendance, and the community as a whole, to think about what they can individually do to help fight the opioid epidemic.

The next major presentation on the local effort to battle the problem is scheduled to be March 8 during Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop’s State of the City Address.

For more on the efforts of the Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress in Bartholomew County, visit

New CPD officer sworn in

The Columbus Police Department has a new officer. Lt. Matt Harris, department spokesman, says that Darrell Guesman was sworn in during Tuesday’s Board of Public Works and Safety Meeting at City Hall. Officer Guesman is originally from Leavittsburg, OH and a U.S. Army veteran. He still serves in the U.S. Army Reserves. Harris says that Officer Guesman will attend the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in February and upon graduation will return to Columbus to continue his training.

Suspect in hospital after swallowing methamphetamine

A suspect is at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis after swallowing methamphetamine while trying to avoid arrest by North Vernon police.

The police department says that 26-year-old Justin W. Jarrell of North Vernon is facing charges of resisting law enforcement with a vehicle and interfering in an investigation by destroying evidence.

The incident started at about 3:55 p.m. Tuesday afternoon near North State and Franklin streets when an officer noticed an SUV tailgating another vehicle. But when the driver saw the police flashing lights, he took off, weaving in and out of traffic for almost a mile before pulling into a lot. During the chase, police allegedly saw the driver rummaging in his center console.

Sgt. Andrew Richmond had police dog Heros check for drugs and while the dog smelled drugs, none were found. Police took Jarrell to the Jennings County Jail, but a short time later, he became ill and admitted to swallowing three grams of methamphetamine. He was taken to St. Vincent Jennings Hospital where he vomited up a baggie, allegedly containing drugs.

After his condition worsened he was taken to the Indianapolis hospital where he is in intensive care, Richmond says.

INDOT vehicles involved in two crashes

Crash on I-65 in Jackson County; photo courtesy of Indiana State Police

Investigations continue into a pair of Tuesday crashes south of Columbus, each involving vehicles belonging to the Indiana Department of Transportation.

Sgt. Stephen Wheeles, spokesman for the Indiana State Police Versailles Post says that the first crash happened at about 10 a.m. on northbound I-65 near Crothersville. He says that the investigation revealed that a car driven by 29-year-old David Cutrone, of Lake Wylie, SC, was traveling northbound near the 37 mile marker when his vehicle drove onto the shoulder of I-65 and struck the guardrail. The vehicle then struck the rear of an INDOT truck driven by 24-year-old Cody Hobbs, of Scottsburg. The INDOT vehicle was parked on the shoulder while workers were removing debris off the shoulder of the Interstate. Investigators say that Hobbs and a passenger, 49-year-old Darren Jones, of Deputy, suffered minor injuries. A third INDOT worker, 26-year-old Freddie Taylor, of Scottsburg, was outside the vehicle at the time of the crash. He also suffered minor injuries. All three INDOT workers were transported by ambulance to Schneck Medical Center in Seymour.

Police say that Cutrone was initially entrapped in his vehicle after the collision. Firefighters from the Vernon Township Fire Department and Seymour Fire Department ultimately freed Cutrone, who was transported to Schneck Medical Center for treatment of serious injuries. Those injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

Wheeles says that the right lane of I-65 near the 37 mile marker was closed for nearly two hours after the crash.

Ripley County crash; photo courtesy of Indiana State Police

About two hours later, ISP responded to another crash involving an INDOT vehicle. Wheeles says that crash happened at about noon on State Road 101 at I-74 in Ripley County. He says that the initial investigation determined that an INDOT truck, driven by 42-year-old Kevin Callahan, of Sunman, was traveling northbound on State Road 101 when a pickup truck, driven by 78-year-old Keith Huber, of St. Paul, exited I-74 and drove into the side of the INDOT vehicle. No serious injuries were reported.

Whelles says that State Road 101 was down to one lane for an hour for crash investigation and cleanup.

The investigation into both crashes is ongoing.

Mayor says drug problem will be highlighted in State of City Address

Columbus officials continue their efforts to battle the opioid epidemic. Mayor Jim Lienhoop says the next big update on those efforts will be in the coming weeks.

Lienhoop talks about what we can expect to hear in his address.

The mayor says that these education efforts will, hopefully, stem the numbers of those becoming addicted. He says that Judge Kelly Benjamin is heading an effort to establish a drug court locally.

Lienhoop adds that it will be important to ensure that those who receive drug treatment don’t relapse.

Lienhoop says that his State of the City address will take place the evening of March 8th from the Commons.

Carpet store fire causes will remain undetermined

Photo courtesy of Columbus Fire Department

The cause of the fire last week at Carpet Mania in Columbus will remain unknown.

Capt. Mike Wilson, spokesman for the Columbus Fire Department, explains that the damage was so great that no cause could be determined.

Wilson said  said that investigators have four categories of causes they can assign ranging from accidental, natural causes, incendiary to undetermined.

In the case of the fire on 10th Street last Wednesday, investigators say that the cause will remain as undetermined which means a cause can not be proven.

The four alarm fire caused more than $2 million dollars in damage, completely destroying the Carpet Mania store and warehouse, along with CrossFit Retaliation Gym. A third business, Advantage One Imaging Center, sustained significant water and smoke damage.

Concert to benefit anti-drug efforts set for Saturday

The Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress in Bartholomew County will be having a fundraising concert Saturday night at Viewpoint Books.

They are calling it a Book Cellar Benefit concert featuring Josh Morningstar, a former addict and inmate, father and troubadour.

Tickets for the event are $15 in advance and may be purchased at Viewpoint Books. Only 100 seats are being offered for the event. If seats are still available Saturday, they will be $20 at the door.  All proceeds will be donated to support ASAP.

The show starts at 7:30 p.m. at Viewpoint Books, on the corner of Washington and Sixth Streets in downtown Columbus.

Grubby the Groundhog to return for Hope event Friday

Grubby the Groundhog may be grumpy but so far she has a better record than her Pennsylvania cousin. That’s according to Hope Town Manager J.T. Doane.

The town of Hope will hold its Groundhog Day event at 8:30 a.m. on Friday morning and it will feature the rescued animal from Utopia Wildlife Rehabilitators.

Doane explains the success of the event, which has drawn media attention from around the state.

He says that the event includes top hats and tails for groundhog handlers..

Doane said that Grubby showed her skills last year when she predicted a shorter winter, when she did not see her shadow.

Hauser Junior and Senior High School bands will provide music for the event and light refreshments will be available at Willow Leaves of Hope, on the north side of the Town Square.

This will be Grubby’s fourth year serving as Hope’s weather forecaster..