Monthly Archives: March 2020

Decatur County declares travel warning; locks down community

Decatur County is further locking down the community in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the weekend, county health officials said that Decatur County had the highest per capita rate of COVID-19 infections in the state. Decatur County has 47 confirmed cases as of yesterday morning’s tally from the state health department.

Decatur County Commissioners on Tuesday declared a travel warning, effective Thursday morning at 8 a.m. The warning bans any travel in the county except for a few categories outlined in the ordinance.

Emergency management workers, health care service providers, essential Greensburg and Decatur County governmental offices, public utilities workers, veterinarians, funeral homes and media are allowed to travel, but only for work and when the work cannot be done remotely.

Another larger category of workers can travel to work but only between 5 a.m. in the morning and 10 p.m. at night. That group includes grocery store workers, community food assistance, agriculture, laundromats, banks, home healthcare workers, critical trades and others.

The county health department warns that those who are required to work between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. must be essential workers and should get a letter from their employer declaring them so. Also, workers who must travel to work outside the community should get a letter.

The emergency order also closes all restaurants and puts in place rules for businesses on social distancing.

Failure to comply with the emergency order can be treated as a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.

The order is in effect until April 9th and can be re-evaluated by county commissioners then.

The ordinance:

New Travel Warning issued by Decatur County Commissioners on March 31, 2020, effective Thursday, April 2 at 8 a.m.

Ordinance No. 2020-____

WHEREAS, Decatur County believes its residents are immediately threatened by the Coronavirus/COVID-19 and believe it is imperative to take action at this time in an effort to protect citizens and contain the spread of the virus to the greatest extent possible, and

WHEREAS, Covid19 is a respiratory disease that can result in serious illness and death and is easily transmitted from person to person, and:

WHEREAS, on January 31, 2020 the United States Department of Health and Human Services Secretary declared a public emergency for the COVID-19, and:

WHEREAS, on March 6, 2020 Governor Eric J. Holcomb issued his Declaration of Public Health Emergency for the State of Indiana for COVID-19, and:

WHEREAS, The Board of Commissioners of Decatur County, pursuant to IC 36-8-2-4 and 5, is authorized to regulate conduct that might endanger the public health, safety or welfare and to impose restrictions to prevent the transmission of diseases, and:

WHEREAS, The Board of Commissioners of Decatur County, pursuant to IC 10-14-3-29 and 29.5, is authorized to issue local travel advisories as part of its emergency powers, and must designate the travel advisory as falling into “Advisory”, “Watch”, or “Warning” categories, and:

WHEREAS, as of March 31, 2020 Decatur County has the highest per capita rate of confirmed COVID-19 infection in the State of Indiana, and:

WHEREAS, Governor Holcomb’s Executive Order 20-08 grants the Decatur County Board of Commissioners the power to impose further restrictions necessary to address the needs in Decatur County, and:

WHEREAS, due to the severity of COVID-19 and the need to take urgent action, the following is effective Thursday April 2, 2020 at 8:00 am:

NOW, THEREFORE, the Board of Commissioners of Decatur County, Indiana, do hereby declare:

1.) That a local disaster emergency continues to exist in Decatur County due to COVID-19.

2.) That we invoke all appropriate laws, statutes, ordinances and resolutions necessary to exercise emergency authority for the protection of the lives and property of the people of Decatur County, with special reference to Indiana Code 10-14-3.

3.) This ordinance shall remain in effect for seven days after adoption, until April 9, 2020 at 8:00 am, and may be renewed by the Board of Commissioners.

4.) That a local travel WARNING advisory is hereby issued under IC 10-14-3-29.5. For purposes of this advisory the term travel is not restricted to travel by automobile and extends to travel by any means.

This means:
a. Individuals must refrain from all travel unless it is for purposes specifically stated in this ordinance.
b. Individuals must comply with all emergency measures currently in effect under Governor Holcomb’s executive orders and Decatur County’s emergency ordinances.
c. Individuals must cooperate with public officials in the execution of emergency operations including, but not limited to:

i. State and Local Health Departments,
ii. State and Local Emergency Management Agencies,
iii. Law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical service first responders,
iv. Health care providers in matters related to medical advice and treatment regarding directions related to Covid-19;

5.) Travel is RESTRICTED under IC 10-14-3-29.5(a)(3)(A) except by the following when traveling to and from, and only when the work cannot be done remotely:

a. Emergency Management Workers, as defined by Indiana law;
b. All health care service providers, including doctor offices, hospitals, pharmacies, and therapy establishments, and those seeking emergency medical care;
c. Essential City of Greensburg and Decatur County governmental service offices;
d. Veterinarian clinics (for emergencies only);
e. Funeral homes;
f. Media;
g. Employees who work in public utilities infrastructure.

6.) Travel is further RESTRICTED under IC 10-14-3-29.5(a)(3)(A) except by the following when traveling to and from, only when the work cannot be done remotely, and only between the hours of 5:00 am and 10:00 pm:

a. Grocery Stores or other retailers and manufacturers/suppliers/processors of food (not to include restaurants or liquor stores);
b. Organizations providing essential services such as community food assistance.
c. Social Service agencies, e.g. Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc.;
d. Utility and Trash Services;
e. Postal/Delivery Services;
f. Public Transportation providers for medical purposes only;
g. Agricultural Operations;
h. Legal Services;
i. Laundromats;
j. Auto Repair Businesses for emergencies only;
k. Those required by law enforcement or court order;
l. Banks and other financial institutions (only drive-thru service for customers);
m. Home Based Healthcare Services;
n. Critical trades where the work is necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, government agencies, and businesses engaged in essential activities and business operations:
i. Plumbers;
ii. Electricians;
iii. Operating Engineers;
iv. Janitorial Staff;

7.) When travelling for authorized purposes individuals must maintain social distancing, including proper hygiene and a minimum distance of six feet from individuals.

8.) Businesses that must remain open to the public shall comply with Governor Holcomb’s Executive Order 20-08 § 17 by designating by signage or tape and enforcing six foot distances at places where lines of customers occur; making hand sanitizer readily available to employees and customer; operating separate hours for vulnerable populations; and displaying signage directing customers to do business by telephone or online means as the preferred mode of business.

9.) In addition, all businesses open to the public must limit the number of customers in the business to a number that enforces social distancing and shall designate by signage or tape a six foot space where customers must wait outside before being permitted entry.

10.) Pursuant to guidance from the Indiana and Decatur County Departments of Health, exercise outside such as walking, biking, or jogging is NOT considered prohibited travel, on the condition that it is performed alone or with another member of your household. All existing limitations such as curfews and park hours remain in effect. All playgrounds are prohibited.

11.) Pursuant to Indiana Code 10-14-3-34, knowing, intentional, or reckless violation of this Emergency Order is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by 0-180 days in the Decatur County Jail, and a fine of up to $1,000.00.

The Board of Commissioners acknowledge the hardship and sacrifice that is being imposed on the businesses and citizens of Decatur County by these closures. These restrictions will be revisited as the COVID-19 circumstances change, and are subject to revision as deemed appropriate for the health and well-being of Decatur County Citizens.

This is an ongoing and evolving public health crisis. In addition to the criminal and civil sanctions in Paragraphs 11, refusal to comply may result in suspension of permits as well as fines by order of the Decatur County Health Department and the Health Officer under IC 16-20-1-19 and IC16-20-1-21.

Read and adopted this 31st day of March, 2020.

Decatur County Board of Commissioners

Rick J. Nobbe

Jerome Buening

Mark Koors

Nine arrested in downtown Columbus drugs, guns case

Michael A. Coleman. Photo courtesy of Columbus Police Department.

Nine people were arrested during an investigation into drugs and guns in downtown Columbus Monday.

According to the Bartholomew County Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team,  officers from the Columbus Police Department’s Intelligence Led Policing Unit stopped a vehicle occupied by 53-year-old Michael A. Coleman and 55-year-old Philip Brantley, both of Columbus. A search uncovered  rifle and drugs in the vehicle.

Coleman was arrested on preliminary charges of maintaining a common nuisance, possession of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana, possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, open container violation, and violation of an emergency order. Brantley is accused of violation of an emergency order

Philip Brantley. Photo courtesy of Columbus Police Department.

The Columbus Police Department SWAT team served a search warrant on Coleman’s apartment in the 1000 block of Chestnut Street at just before midnight. Investigators discovered  a handgun, drug paraphernalia, heroin, and approximately 20 grams of marijuana inside the apartment.

Seven people inside the apartment were taken into custody during the investigation.:

  • Darlene A. Jenkins, 54, of Columbus — Maintaining a Common Nuisance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
  • Alexus R. Jenkins, 23, of Bloomington — Visiting a Common Nuisance, Possession of Heroin, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Paraphernalia
  • Scott W. Bryant, 53, of Columbus — Visiting a Common Nuisance, Possession of Heroin, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
  • Teyon Montgomery, 19, of Columbus — Visiting a Common Nuisance, Possession of Heroin, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Possession of Handgun Without a Permit
  • Kaila Supernovich, 21, of Columbus — Visiting a Common Nuisance, Possession of Heroin, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
  • Brian Avery Jones Jr., 26, of Columbus — Visiting a Common Nuisance, Possession of Heroin, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
  • Kwayshar Booker, 25, of Columbus — Visiting a Common Nuisance, Possession of Heroin, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

The investigation into the sale of illegal drugs in Columbus and Bartholomew County continues and additional charges are possible in this ongoing investigation.

The Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team is a combined unit of the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Office, the Columbus Police Department and the Bartholomew County Prosecutor’s Office that targets the manufacturing and abuse of dangerous drugs in Columbus and Bartholomew County.


Teyon Montgomery
Scott Bryant
Kwayshar Booker
Kaila Supernovich
Darlene Jenkins
Brian A. Jones Jr.
Alexus Jenkins

Coronavirus roundup for March 31st: Indiana total COVID-19 cases passes 2,000

Indiana’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 have passed the 2,000 mark.

The Indiana State Department of Health is reporting 2,159 positive COVID-19 test results as of this morning’s daily update and 49 deaths from the disease across the state. So far there have been 13,373 tests completed for the disease by the health department.

Bartholomew County has 13 reported cases.

Decatur County has 47 confirmed cases. 15 cases are reported in Jennings and in Shelby Counties, 8 in Jackson County and 3 in Brown County. Johnson County has 101 confirmed cases.

Marion County leads the state with 964 confirmed cases.

COVID-19 hits CRH staff, doctor

Note: This story has been updated

Columbus Regional Health is reporting that three staff members and a doctor have tested positive for COVID-19.

Kelsey DeClue, spokeswoman for the hospital, says health care workers who are symptomatic are automatically tested for the disease.

The four are all showing minor to moderate symptoms of the illness. They are not allowed to return to work until they have fully recovered, and are using personal time or sick time while they are isolated.

She says that anyone who may have worked with or come into direct contact with the employees or physician in the 14 days prior to their last day of work has been notified.

DeClue said it is not possible to determine how the four contracted the disease, but officials have ruled out one possibility. She says the workers were wearing the required protective gear while interacting with any patients testing positive for COVID-19, so that has been ruled out.

Columbus firefighter tests positive for COVID-19

A Columbus firefighter has tested positive for COVID-19 and has been in isolation until symptoms clear up.

The firefighter was off-duty when symptoms first appeared and began to self-quarantine while medical testing began. A week ago, the firefighter notified the Columbus Fire Department of the possibility of the illness and the test result came back positive on Monday, says Capt. Mike Wilson, spokesman for the fire department.

The firefighter lives outside of Bartholomew County and has experienced only mild symptoms.  No other firefighters have shown symptoms of the virus and the firefighter’s assigned station is undergoing additional cleaning to ensure the safety of other personnel and the public.

The firefighter is expected to return to duty once given medical clearance.

Fire Chief Andy Lay said that any firefighter who reports or shows signs or symptoms related to COVID 19, is being removed from service and asked to follow the current screening guidelines established by local health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Wilson said that since the start of the coronavirus epidemic in the area, firefighters have been regularly cleaning and sanitizing the stations, fire engines and equipment. All emergency equipment and apparatus are being cleaned and sanitized after each call for service.

All department personnel are required to assess their body temperature before reporting for duty. In the event that a high temperature reading is detected, that firefighter will be advised to receive further medical screening.

The department has also instituted a no visitors policy which includes family members of firefighters.

Wilson said the Columbus Fire Department is asking for the community’s support to help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. He said it is imperative for all residents to practice social distancing, to limit unnecessary travel and interactions within the community.

Silver Alert declared for missing North Vernon man

Brian K. Kirby. Photo courtesy of Indiana State Police.

A statewide Silver Alert has been declared for a missing Jennings County man.

The Jennings County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the disappearance of 52-year-old Brian K. Kirby . Kirby is 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighs 180 pounds and has red hair with blue eyes. He was last seen wearing an orange knitted toboggan, a grey sweat shirt with “Tennessee” in white letters and blue jeans.

Kirby is missing from North Vernon and was last seen on Saturday at 11 p.m. He is believed to be in danger and may require medical assistance.

If you have any information on Brian K. Kirby, contact the Jennings County Sheriff’s Department at 812-346-4911 or 911.

Coronavirus roundup for March 30: State cases pass 1,700

The Indiana State Department of Health is reporting 1,786 positive COVID-19 test results as of this morning’s daily update and 35 deaths from the disease across the state. So far there have been 11,658 tests completed for the disease by the health department.

Bartholomew County has 13 reported cases. The county is still waiting for results from 180 tests and 209 tests have been negative.

Decatur County has 42 confirmed cases. 14 cases are reported in Jennings County, 13 in Shelby County, 8 in Jackson County and 3 in Brown County. Johnson County has 81 confirmed cases.

Marion County leads the state with 804 confirmed cases.

Todd appointed to fire department captain, fire inspector

The Columbus Fire Department is announcing that Troy Todd has been promoted to administrative captain and will serve as a fire inspector. Todd is a 17-year member of the Columbus Fire Department.

Inspectors are responsible for all public and commercial buildings fire inspections in the city and serve as fire investigators.

Todd is certified as Fire Inspector I & II, Aircraft Rescue Firefighter, Basic Emergency Medical Technician, Fire Officer Strategies and Tactics, Hazardous Materials Technician, Confined Rescue Technician, Rope Rescue Technician and Vehicle & Machinery Extrication Technician.

Previous Fire Inspector Matt Noblitt retired in January. Todd will join Inspector Scott Bonnell in the Fire Prevention Bureau.

SWAT team arrests Hope man after Sunday standoff

A domestic dispute in Hope Sunday afternoon turned into an hours-long standoff with police.

Hope police are reporting that they were called to a home on Walnut Street at about 3:30 on Sunday afternoon after reports of a fight or domestic dispute. A woman said she had been battered by 32 year old Gregory Carter Jr. Police discovered that Carter was wanted on four outstanding warrants.

But Carter retreated back into the home and locked police out. After he could not be persuaded by police to come outside, the Bartholomew County SWAT team was called in.

Tear gas was used to get Carter out of the house and he surrendered almost four hours after the incident started. He was taken first to Columbus Regional Hospital to be checked out and then to jail on preliminary charges of battery in the presence of a minor, resisting law enforcement and residential entry, as well as the outstanding warrants.

Despite extra costs, Congressman supports COVID-19 spending bill

Congressman Greg Pence drove 10 and a half hours last week to make it back to Congress to vote on the COVID-19 stimulus package Friday afternoon.

And that included stopping to fix a flat tire.

Although plans were to allow the measure to pass with a simple voice vote, a Kentucky congressman threatened to derail the proceedings, leading to representatives being called back to Washington D.C. shortly after making it back to their home districts.

Pence, a Columbus Republican, said that in the end he was not satisfied with the cost of the bill, but supported it because it had to be done.

He said the bill does hit on his priorities which included taking care of workers, the middle class and small business owners.

Pence said some of the highlights for him are the portions of the bill that protect health care workers and hospitals.