Monthly Archives: March 2019

Former Jennings County employee must repay stolen funds

Attorney General Curtis Hill is crowing about a legal victory on Friday that he says will help the state hold officials accountable.

Hill’s office says that Cathy Jo Robertson, a former bookkeeper for the Jennings County Clerk’s Office, had sought to avoid paying back public funds demanded by the Office of the Attorney General. In an audit report, the State Board of Accounts determined that Robertson diverted more than $61,000 in public funds for her own use. Robertson had claimed the OAG’s complaint to recover the funds was filed after the statute of limitations had expired.

Robertson’s attorneys said the activity in question occurred from 2009 to 2011 and that the OAG became aware of it from SBOA officials in December of 2014. That being the case, her attorneys claimed, the statute of limitations would have had to begin to run no later than December of 2014.

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday, however, that the statute of limitations applicable to the OAG in such instances does not begin to run until the OAG receives the final, verified report from the SBOA. In this case, the OAG received the SBOA’s report on Jan. 22, 2016, and filed its complaint against Robertson on May 5, 2017, well within the two-year window.

“Cases arising out of SBOA audits are especially important to the state because their purpose is to protect public funds,” Attorney General Hill said. “The state needs the ability to recoup taxpayer dollars and root out fraud committed by public officials and employees.”

CFD announces retirements

Lt. Rick Chatham; photo courtesy of Columbus Fire Dept.
Battalion Chief Dan Cleland; photo courtesy of Columbus Fire Dept.

Two Columbus firefighters with a combined sixty four years of service have announced their retirement from CFD.

Lieutenant Richard Chatham retires with 34 years of service. Hired by the city in 1985, Chatham held of the rank of Sergeant and his current rank of Lieutenant. Chatham retired on March 1st from his current assignment of Lieutenant at fire station #5.

Battalion Chief Dan Cleland was hired by the city in 1988. Throughout his career, he served as a paramedic on the department’s ambulance, Medic One, and rose through the ranks serving as a Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain and Battalion Chief. Cleland also served five months as the interim Chief of Fire in early 2012. His official retirement date is April 1st.

Silver Alert continues for missing Brown County man

Joseph L. Carmer. Photo courtesy of Indiana State Police.

A Silver Alert has been issued for 76-year-old Joseph L. Carmer of Brown County.

The Brown County Sheriff’s Department says Carmer is believed to be in extreme danger and may require medical assistance.

He is a white man, 5′-07”, 173 lbs, with green eyes, and gray hair. Carmer was last seen wearing a black zip-up sweatshirt, light blue pants, possibly wearing a baseball cap, and has a tattoo of “MOM” on his right forearm.

He is missing from his home on Mt Liberty Road in Nashville since about 4:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon. Authorities called off the search at about 1:50 a.m. this morning today and resumed at 8 a.m.

If you have any information on Joseph L. Carmer, contact the Brown County Sheriff’s Department at 812-988-6655 x 0 or 911.

Chamber honors Stark, Nading, ASAP, Force Construction at annual meeting

Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop surprises Sherry Stark with the Community Service Award Thursday at the Columbus area of Commerce annual meeting. WRB photo

The Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce held its annual meeting and awards ceremony yesterday afternoon at The Commons.

Sherry Stark was recognized with the Community Service Award. She served as deputy mayor and community development director under Mayor Bob Stewart, before heading up the Columbus Area Arts Council and Heritage Fund. Even after her retirement, she continues to serve including as head of the Columbus Regional Hospital board of trustees.

She was brought to tears after being surprised with the award by Mayor Jim Lienhoop.

The Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress received project of the year. Jeff Jones, head of that project, thanked Columbus, Bartholomew County and Columbus Regional Hospital for banding together to tackle the drug epidemic:

Force Construction was chosen as company of the year. Company president Harold Force looked back at the family business, which opened in 1946.

This year’s Edna Folger teaching award winner was Karen Nading, who teaches at C4 and Columbus East. She has been a teacher for more than 40 years.  She said that her classroom feels like a family.

Hauser High School’s team was recognized as the winner of the countywide Maverick Challenge. The Hauser TempSense team of Emils Vigants, Krista Blackburn and Kiersten Meister created a product and service that will help kids get interested in computer science.

Authorities looking for missing Brown County man

Joseph L. Carmer; photo courtesy of Brown County Sheriff’s Dept.

Authorities in Brown County are looking for a missing Nashville man. A Silver Alert has been issued for 76-year-old Joseph Carmer. Authorities say Carmer wandered away from the 2900 block of Mt. Liberty Road. He is believed to be in extreme danger and may require medical assistance.

Carmer is a white male, 5 feet 9 inches tall, 183 pounds, brown/gray hair with blue eyes, last seen wearing a black sweatshirt, blue jeans, black shoes, and has a “Mom” tattoo on his right forearm.

If you have any information on Carmer’s whereabouts, you should call the Brown County Sheriff’s Department at (812) 988-6655 or 911.

Gov. Holcomb dines with local Republican faithful

Gov. Eric Holcomb talks with John and Barb Hackman; WRB staff photo

Gov. Eric Holcomb says the state is working to grow and adapt. He addressed the issues of having a ready work force when he visited Simmons Winery Thursday night to address the Lincoln Day Dinner put on by the Bartholomew County Republican Party.

Gov Holcomb says it’s also important to find a way to reach out to those who have been out of the workforce and offer them a way to transition back in to work whenever possible.

WRB staff photo

Holcomb says the state is doing a good job at adapting to the changing times.

Holcomb notes that challenges remain for the state. They including education, infrastructure and maintaining a well-qualified workforce, among others.

The governor talked about the mission of his administration…

Approximately 250 people turned out for Thursday evening’s event at Simmons Winery. They included Rep. Greg Pence, Mayor Jim Lienhoop, State Rep. Ryan Lauer, State Rep. Jim Lucas and State Sen. Greg Walker, as well as other local officials and candidates.

Emergency workers offering active shooter, trauma first aid classes

The Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department and Columbus Fire Department are partnering to offer community classes in active threats awareness and “stop the bleed” training.

The agencies held a class this week at Precision Tools Service Inc featuring Chief Deputy Maj. Chris Lane and the fire department’s deputy chief Mike Kutsko. More than 60 people took part in the six hours of classes.

Lane says that the classes provide information on active shooters and how to treat wounds, including the use of tourniquets in life-saving efforts.

The departments are available to provide the training to other area companies and organizations at no charge. You can get more information by calling the sheriff’s office at 812-565-5961 or the fire department at 812-376-2679.

Moped rider facing drug charges after stop sign violation

Paul M. Atkins. Photo courtesy of Columbus Police Department

An Elizabethtown man is facing drug charges after being stopped by police for a traffic violation on his moped early this morning.

Columbus police say that they pulled the moped over at about 12:30 this morning near Marr Road and McKinley Avenue, after the driver disregarded a stop sign at the intersection.

31-year-old Paul M. Atkins did not have a driver’s license according to police and he was arrested. A search revealed methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in his clothing. He is facing charges of operating a vehicle without a license, and possession of the drugs and paraphernalia.

Jennings County students compete ‘Innovate WithIN’ state competition

A team of Jennings County High School students will join 10 other high school teams in Indianapolis for the final round of the 2019 “Innovate WithIN” pitch competition. This event is a statewide initiative hosted by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Indiana Department of Education and Ball State University.

Koltan Hauersperger and Brooks Wathen lead Kolt Electronic Solutions at JCHS. Representing Region Two in the competition, the team plans to create a power line monitoring system that tracks voltage and detects obstructions and damages.

After submitting video pitches for the first round of the competition, more than 65 teams were selected to pitch their entrepreneurial ideas at regional competitions across the state. The Jennings County group was named one of nine regional finalists, who each received a $1,000 cash prize and qualified for the state competition

In addition to the state title, the team is competing for the chance to win $10,000 cash prize, $10,000 toward one year of in-state tuition, internship opportunities and mentoring services.

“Innovate WithIN™ empowers Indiana’s young entrepreneurs to draw upon their creative thinking and problem-solving skills to develop, execute and present an idea for a business, product or venture,” said Elaine Bedel, president of the IEDC. “We’re overwhelmed by the support and encouragement expressed by Hoosier students, parents, school administrators and teachers throughout this process, and can’t wait to watch as our finalists showcase their innovative ideas during the state competition.”

The state competition is April 4th.

IUPUC, Ivy Tech, Purdue sponsor upcoming job fair

A career-fair aimed at adults seeking employment opportunities in Columbus and other area communities is right around the corner.

Sponsored by Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus, Ivy Tech Community College and the Purdue College of Technology, the event is scheduled for Wednesday, April 4th from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will be held at the Columbus Learning Center, located at 4555 Central Avenue.

“We are hopeful that area residents take advantage of this opportunity to connect with potential employers,” said Randy Proffitt, director of communications and marketing at Ivy Tech. “We are pleased that so many great companies will be represented this year and appreciate their support and interest in meeting candidates for positions they may have available now or in the future.”

Carol Kostrzewsky, coordinator of career services at IUPUC, says as many as 60 prospective employers are expected to be represented. She adds that all of the employers have immediate openings to fill.