Monthly Archives: February 2020

Senator honors longest-serving state employee

Sen. Eric Koch, R-Bedford, recently honored Bob Vollmer with a resolution at the statehouse. Photo courtesy of Indiana State Senate.

State Sen. Eric Koch introduced a resolution to recognize a Brown County man who recently retired as the state’s longest serving employee.

102-year-old Bob Vollmer worked for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources for 57 years. He retired Feb. 6 from his role as chief surveyor.

Koch’s office reports that Vollmer served in the U.S. Navy during World War II before returning home to Indiana to graduate from Purdue University with a degree in biological and agricultural engineering in 1952.

A trail in Brown County State Park was recently named in Vollmer’s honor.

Koch’s Bedford district also includes part of Bartholomew, Brown, Jackson, Lawrence and Monroe counties.

The Senate resolution is available here.


Sheriff’s deputies to carry Care Bags to help the homeless

Brad Woodcock, of Sans Souci, and Maj. Chris Lane. Photo courtesy of Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department.

The Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department is partnering with Sans Souci to help the local homeless population.

The sheriff’s department announced Thursday that they are putting together Care Bags for people experiencing homelessness in the Bartholomew County. The kits include socks, toothpaste, toiletries, snacks and other necessities. Officials say the goal is for every deputy to have a bag in their patrol vehicle. The bags will be used when deputies come into contact with those who are homeless late at night or on weekends. Or even given to those who are released from jail who have no immediate place to go.

Chief Deputy Major Chris Lane, learned about a similar program following his graduation from the FBI National Academy last year. Lane said he thinks this could be a good first step in improving how local law enforcement responds to people experiencing homelessness, many of whom are victims of crime but are reluctant to approach officers.

Lane and Brad Woodcock, of Sans Souci, worked together to get items donated for the Care Bags.

If you would like to donate to the Care Bag program, you can call 812-372-3419.

Columbus considering changes to bus rates and routes

Photo courtesy of city of Columbus

Columbus transit officials are considering increasing the costs of rides on the ColumBUS, changing the frequency of some routes and moving the city transit hub, after the results of a transit study.

I talked with Columbus City Engineer Dave Hayward who explains that the study revealed several areas for improvement and areas where the city does well. One of the recommendations was to increase the rate that riders pay.

Columbus has had a rate of 25 cents per ride since at least the late 70s, Hayward said. Other comparable cities had rates of $1 dollar to $1.50 per ride. The city is considering increasing the rate to 50 cents per ride.

Because the city has gone so long without a rate increase, the exact procedure to raise rates is still being figured out, Hayward said. It will likely require approval by the city’s Board of Public Works and Safety.

The study also outlined the need to move the city’s transit hub, which is at Mill Race Center at the corner of LIndsey Street and Indianapolis Road. The center is where all the buses gather to start their hourly routes, but it is also on the wrong side of the railroad tracks from the largest part of the city.

The consultants also suggested that the city increase the route interval during certain times of the day, on certain routes. That would increase the routes from every hour to every half hour. But the consultant also suggested just adding more buses to make that happen.

Hayward said that the city does not want to add more buses due to the costs. The city transit department had an approved 2019 budget of $2.3 million according to the state Local Government & Finance web portal. The city has six buses available, with five fixed routes.

Just over 212,000 rides were made in 2019 on the fixed routes, plus another 16,748 for the Call-a-Bus program.

You can get more information on the city transit system here.

Fundraiser set for breast cancer survivor Sunday at fire station

Southwest Volunteer Fire Department will be hosting a soup and sandwich fundraiser for a single mother with breast cancer on Sunday.

The event will benefit Janetta Robinette, who was diagnosed with an aggressive case of breast cancer in November, organizers say.

The event will include a silent auction. $10 will get you a combination of soups, sandwiches and a drink. It will be from 2 to 6 p.m. on Sunday at the fire station. at 8500 South State Road 58.

Click here for more information

Updated: Columbus police investigating shooting death on east side

Updated: Columbus police released the name of the victim.

A man with a gunshot wound was found dead in a parking lot on the east side of Columbus Wednesday night, according to police. Authorities have identified the victim as 37 year old Leonardo Rodriguez-Flores, of Columbus.

Officers were called to a store parking lot in the 800 block of South Marr Road at about 11:15 p.m. Wednesday night, on a report of an injured and bleeding person, police report. They found Rodriguez-Flores who had died after being shot.

Rodriguez-Flores’s vehicle, a silver 1998 Honda Civic, was found in a parking lot in the 2700 block of State Street.  Police are asking for the public’s help. Any business or homeowner in the area with security cameras are asked to contact the Columbus Police Department at 812-376-2600. Tips and information can be left anonymously.

The incident is  being investigated by the Bartholomew County Death Investigation Team which includes the Columbus Police Department, Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Office, Indiana State Police, Bartholomew County Prosecutor’s Office and Bartholomew County Coroner’s Office.

An autopsy is scheduled for Friday.


Sheriff’s department sets year’s first community meeting

Sheriff Matt Myers; photo courtesy of Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Dept.

Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department is kicking off a new year of its community meetings with the public in March with a meeting at the Columbus Township Fire & Rescue Department station on Repp Drive.

Sheriff Matt Myers says he holds the meetings so that residents can have an informal conversation with the sheriff and his deputies. He said he views it as a way for him to address the needs and concerns of Bartholomew County residents.

The meetings are held periodically around the county and they are all open to all county residents. There is no requirement that you must live in the neighborhood where the meeting is being held.

The next meeting will be on Thursday, March 26th starting at 6 p.m. at the fire station at 935 Repp Drive.

BCSC announces that autism expert will be inducted into Hall of Fame

Nancy Conner. Photo courtesy of BCSC

Bartholomew Consolidated Schools are announcing that this year’s Education Hall of Fame honoree will be Nancy Conner, who has worked for the district for 27 years, first as a speech therapist and later as the school system’s first autism coordinator.

She is recognized as a leader in the field of autism spectrum disorder and dedicates herself to learning as much as possible about teaching students who have autism, according to the school district.

She will be recognized at Monday’s school board meeting, which will be held at Central Middle School. A reception will be at 6 p.m. in the evening, and she will be presented with the award during the board meeting which starts at 6:30 p.m.

Pence to lead efforts against U.S. coronavirus spread

Vice President Mike Pence will be in charge of the nation’s response to the coronavirus. President Trump made the announcement last night during a national address.

Pence, a Columbus native, explains that as governor of Indiana he oversaw the first MERS virus outbreak in the U.S.

Pence says he’s working with federal health experts and state leaders daily and will add more staff to help.

The president did bristle at a question from the media about whether Pence would be a czar — a term frequently used by previous administrations for those in charge of coordinating responses to special crises or concerns across government agencies.

The president’s national address on the spread of the virus comes as the number of U.S. cases jump to 60.

Hauser to host celebration of Johnson’s life Friday

Barb Johnson. Photo courtesy of Flat Rock-Hawcreek Schools.

Friends and supporters will have a chance to say farewell to a member of the Hope community who made a difference in many lives there.

Barb Johnson died Tuesday at St. Vincent Hospital at the age of 71. She was a former Hope Elementary school teacher and local historian who led heritage-related efforts in the community including the Yellow Trail Museum, the Simmons One-Room Schoolhouse and events like the annual Old-Fashioned Independence Day.

There will be a community celebration of her life at Hauser High School gym from 2 to 6 p.m.  on Friday. A private inurnment will be held for her family at a later date at Hope Moravian Church.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Yellow Trail Letter Carrier’s Museum or to Simmons One Room Schoolhouse.

Norman Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Man’s attempt at identity deception foiled by deputies

Jesse Scott. Photo courtesy of Jennings County Sheriff’s Department

Jennings County deputies say a man’s attempt to hide his identity didn’t go as planned.

Deputies were called to a Sand Creek Township home Tuesday on a report of an unknown man sleeping in a detached garage there. When deputies talked to the man, he gave them the name of a person who turned out to not only be wanted by police, but who was also in another county’s jail.

The suspect quickly denied that name and deputies discovered they were talking to 33-year-old Jesse C. Scott of Deputy, who was wanted on several Bartholomew County probation violation warrants. He was arrested and is facing a new charge of false informing.