Monthly Archives: June 2020

Third Democrat files for County Council race

Another Bartholomew County Democrat has filed to run for County Council at-large.

The party announced last night that Tiffany Bosley has filed to run for one of the three at-large seats. Olisa Humes and Claudette Schroer have also filed recently to run for the office. Parties have until today to fill open spots on the ballot before the November general election.

The three Democrats will be facing Republican incumbents Evelyn Pence, Bill Lentz and Matt Miller in the November general election.

Bartholomew County tightens belt expecting budget cuts

Bartholomew County
Auditor Pia O’Connor.
Photo courtesy of
Bartholomew County.

Bartholomew County government is making plans for the upcoming budget crunch expected in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

County Auditor Pia O’Connor said yesterday during the County Commissioners meeting that things will begin getting tight next year, but in 2022 is when the real hit will be felt from the shrinking of income tax revenues statewide. The drop is estimated to be up to 15 percent.

Motor vehicle highway funds, which come from gasoline taxes, could fall as much as 18 percent under some estimates, O’Connor said.

O’Connor said county department heads budgets are due this week and they have been given the directive to keep their budgets flat for next year.

County Commissioner Larry Kleinhenz. Photo courtesy of Bartholomew County.

County Commissioner Larry Kleinhenz said Commissioners have taken some steps to put off some capital projects as a way to preserve cash, such as some details of the work at the Bartholomew County Courthouse.

County Council is also set to continue discussing the possibility of a hiring freeze for the county at its July 6th meeting, O’Connor said. A difficulty is that county officeholders who already have new positions approved for this year, can not be told those can’t be filled without amending the county salary ordinance. But council members have stressed that those new positions could be taken away in the upcoming budget process, meaning someone could be hired only to be let go after the start of the year.

City officials offer safety tips for fireworks fun

Columbus officials want to remind you to be safe if you are planning to use fireworks this holiday season. Fireworks can only be possessed or used by those 18 or older, unless an adult is present.

According to safety tips released by the city, you should never smoke or consume alcohol while setting off fireworks. You should not attempt to make or alter fireworks. While setting off fireworks, you should have a fire extinguisher, hose or bucket of water nearby.

You should only light one firework at a time and should not try to relight a firework that did not go off.

Under city ordinances, fireworks are allowed from 5 to 11 today through Friday, and then Sunday through July 9th. On the Fourth of July, fireworks are allowed between 10 in the morning and midnight.

New athletic director announced for Columbus North

Brian Lewis. Photo courtesy of BCSC

A new athletic director has been chosen for Columbus North High School. 40-year-old Brian Lewis is set to take the position, according to North principal David Clark.

Lewis will succeed Jeff Hester as Columbus North athletic director. Hester accepted a position as assistant athletic director at Carmel in May.

Lewis is an Indiana University graduate and has been assistant athletic director at Mary Institute & Country Day School. That is an independent private school that serves about 1,250 students from pre-kindergarten through high school in St. Louis, Missouri. He started at the school in 2012 and has served as assistant football coach, a middles school physical education teacher and director of summer sports camps in addition to his duties as an assistant athletic director.

While Lewis was with the school, teams captured 12 Missouri State High School Activities Association state championships including titles in boys tennis, boys golf, girls golf, girls track, baseball and cross country.

Lewis earned his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from IU and earned a master’s degree in athletic administration from William Woods University in 2017. While at IU, Lewis was a member of the Hoosiers’ football program for five years. He served as a team captain for the 2003 Hoosiers.

Lewis’ wife, Emily, is from Indiana. The couple have two children.

Lewis’ hiring will not be official until it is approved by the Bartholomew Consolidated School Board, which is set to consider the hire on July 20.

Coronavirus update for June 30th: State passes 45k cases

Indiana has now topped 45 thousand confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state.

According to the most recent update from the Indiana State Department of Health, there are 45,228 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Indiana, an increase of 312 cases since Sunday’s update.

There have been 2,432 deaths in Indiana as of Monday afternoon’s update, an increase of 5 since Sunday.

Bartholomew County has had 578 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 44 deaths.

In other area counties, Decatur County has had 242 cases and 32 deaths, Jennings 170 cases and 9 deaths, Jackson 451 cases and 3 deaths, Brown 38 cases and 1 death, Johnson 1,231 cases and 117 deaths, and Shelby 413 cases with 25 deaths

Drivers must drop the cell phone habit tomorrow

A new state law goes into effect tomorrow, making it illegal to hold and use your cell phone while on the road.

Indiana State Police point out that making a phone call while driving may increase your odds of being in a crash by as much as 400 percent. While it only takes a few seconds to read a text message, a car going 55 mph travels about the length of a football field every five seconds. Troopers say that there are an estimated 1.6 million crashes a year in North America that are attributed to distracted driving.

The new law has two exceptions. You can use a phone to make an emergency call to 911. And you can use hands free or voice controls to make and receive calls.

State police are suggesting that you familiarize yourself with your phones hand-free technology and consider using products such as a phone mount.

Three arrested after thefts from Jackson County stores

Karyn Merida. Photo courtesy of Seymour Police Department.

Three people were arrested in Jackson County Friday evening, accused of stealing thousands of dollars of high-ticket items from area drug stores.

Seymour police were called to the Seymour CVS on East Tipton Street at about 7 p.m. Friday evening, after several people came into the store who were suspected in thefts from the Brownstown CVS.

Officers caught up to the suspect’s vehicle near Tipton and Chestnut streets and police noticed the car contained a large amount of drug store merchandise loose in the car without shopping bags.

Michael Mays. Photo courtesy of Seymour Police Department

The three people in the car were from Kentucky, 44-year-old Karyn Merida, 23-year-old Michael Mays, both of Louisville, and 22-year-old Tiffany Johnson of Burdine, Kentucky.

A search of the vehicle uncovered a large amount of store merchandise, identified as coming from Walgreens, CVS and Dollar General stores worth almost $10,000, along with methamphetamine, oxycodone and drug paraphernalia. Police also uncovered a yard sale sign.

Preliminary charges include:

Merida — Theft with a value of $750 to $50,000, possession of methamphetamine, possession of cocaine or a narcotic, possession of drug paraphernalia, false identity statement.

Mays — Theft with a value of $750 to $50,000, possession of methamphetamine, possession of cocaine or a narcotic, possession of drug paraphernalia.

Tiffany Johnson. Photo courtesy of Seymour Police Department.

Johnson — Theft with a value of $750 to $50,000, possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia.


Columbus campus seeks to raise local awareness

Kathy Oren

The colleges on the Columbus Municipal Airport property are taking a new approach to attract students from the local area to come to the schools in this time of pandemic and shutdowns.

Kathy Oren, executive director of the Community Education Coalition, says that the campus has had a group for some time that was working on outreach to employers to tout the programs and degrees that the campus offers. However, when the pandemic hit, they realized they needed to shift their focus.

Oren said the new focus also will be turned to helping those who have been left unemployed by the pandemic or who need to upgrade their skill set. Oren said it is one of the best kept secrets in town that there are world class institutions of higher learning in the community.

The group has put together a brochure explaining what the campus has to offer, and has updated the website for the Columbus Learning Center itself.

You can get more information and see the campus brochure at

Coronavirus update for June 29th: Bartholomew County sees another death

Bartholomew County has added another death from COVID-19, bringing the county to 44 deaths so far.

According to the most recent update from the Indiana State Department of Health, there are 44,930 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Indiana, an increase of 362 cases since Saturday’s update.

There have been 2,427 deaths in Indiana as of Sunday afternoon’s update, an increase of 3 since Saturday.

Bartholomew and Shelby counties both saw an additional death from COVID-19 from last week’s totals. Bartholomew County has had 577 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and increase of five cases since last week

In other area counties, Decatur County has had 241 cases and 32 deaths, Jennings 168 cases and 9 deaths, Jackson 446 cases and 3 deaths, Brown 38 cases and 1 death, Johnson 1,205 cases and 117 deaths, and Shelby 412 cases with 25 deaths

BCSC tallies results of parents’ survey

Bartholomew Consolidated School officials are working their way through the results from a survey of parents, asking for their thoughts on reopening school this fall. The district currently plans to reopen on Aug. 6th with in person classes, but that depends on directions from state and local health officials and the desires of parents.

The district held an online survey to gauge parents reaction and nearly 75 percent of those who responded said they plan to send their children back to class for regular instruction. Parents said they had few concerns about returning their students to school. Of those who were concerned, they said they worried about how to have social distancing in schools and whether the schools could be properly cleaned and disinfected.

More than 8,000 parents took part in the survey, representing about 70 percent of the students in the district.

The school district staff plan to release their guidance for returning to class next Monday, July 6th.