Monthly Archives: April 2021

Property owners to get first look at new assessments

Bartholomew County property owners will soon start seeing their new assessed value statements from the county assessor’s office.

County Assessor Ginny Whipple says that the Form 11 notices are going out in the mail, starting tomorrow. The annual notices are mailed each year and this week’s mailing will let you know the value of your property going into the 2022 property tax year.

The assessed value is used as a starting point for your property taxes, which will be calculated by factoring in the tax rate set annually by the County Council.

Most property owners will see an increase in their assessed values. Whipple said home sale prices have increased by 21 percent from 2019 to 2020.

If you have questions about your assessment, you can contact the Assessor’s office at 812-379-1505 to set up an appointment.

Military medical convoys hitting area roads for exercise

You could see multiple military medical convoys and aircraft from the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Jennings County, headed to Johnson Memorial Hospital in Franklin, starting today, as part of a training exercise.

U.S. Army soldiers will be conducting emergency medical evacuation training through Friday. The training is meant to improve coordination between military and community emergency services in the event of a large-scale disaster. The training is part of Guardian Response, an exercise run annually by the Army Reserve’s 78th Training Division.

Civilian emergency vehicles including ambulances and police cars will also be involved.

The Johnson County Sheriff’s Department is urging you not to call 911 to report the activities, which will largely be taking place near North Vernon, Edinburgh and Franklin.

Photo courtesy of

Organizers working toward bee-friendly Columbus

Local groups are working to get Columbus designated as a safehaven for bees and other pollinators.

The Columbus Pollinator Committee, with support from the Columbus Design Institute, is pursuing the designation as a Bee City USA. A series of free public programs through this summer will encourage planting of native plants and flowers that provide vital food to pollinators such as butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.

The Bee City USA designation is awarded by the Xerces Society and Columbus would be the first Bee City USA in Indiana. According to the society, Bee City USA works to sustain pollinators by increasing native plants, providing nest sites, and reducing the use of pesticides. Bee cities also encourage pollinator conservation through education and outreach.

The kickoff event will be Friday May 21st at the Fresh Start Recovery Center in downtown Columbus. The center’s lawn is being redesigned by landscape architect Rachel Kavathe and will feature hundreds of plants purchased by the local Sierra Club chapter with funds from the Duke Energy Foundation. The planting work will happen during the Bartholomew County United Way’s service day.

There will be more opportunities to work at pollinator friendly areas this summer including at Fresh Start and at Blackwell Park. Efforts are also underway to create a pollinator friendly meadow at the Columbus Airpark Campus.

City and county government offices reopening Monday

Most Columbus city government buildings will open to the public again on Monday, but options will remain in place should you want to conduct your business with the city remotely.

City officials announced yesterday that buildings will reopen including City Hall and the Columbus Police Department, Donner Center, city utilities, the Department of Public Works, and aviation offices at Columbus Municipal Airport. Masks will still be required within the city buildings to protect the public and city employees.

Buildings that will remain closed to the public include Animal Care Services, fire stations, and The Commons.

If you want to contact city workers remotely, you are encouraged to call or to use email. City officials say their goal is to serve you using the methods that make you the most comfortable.

The city also plans to continue to conduct government meetings remotely through at least the end of May, streaming them on the city website and via WebEx. Should the governor rescind his order allowing for remote meetings, the city will go back to in-person meetings and the public will be notified.

Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop is urging you to continue to take the virus seriously and to follow the guidelines laid out by the CDC and State of Indiana. He said masks, social distancing, good hygiene and avoiding crowds and groups are key to protecting the community’s health and the economy.

The Republic newspaper is reporting that Bartholomew County government offices, will also be reopening to the public on Monday.

Deadline today for Ivy Tech mascot voting

The deadline is today if you would like to help Ivy Tech Community College in Columbus choose its new mascot style.

The school is sticking with its long-time Eagles nickname, but is choosing a costumed mascot to take part in community and campus events. The school is offering three choices for the bird costume: Fierce, Friendly or Proud.

You can view the mascot styles and vote for your favorite at

Seymour police stop publicizing marijuana arrests

Seymour police will no longer be posting about marijuana busts on social media.

The department announced yesterday on Facebook that it was going to stop the practice after a rising number of heated comments from readers about enforcing laws against marijuana.

According to the department, reactions to a post about a recent arrest for marijuana dealing included hateful speech, sarcasm, name calling, curse words, accusations and lewd memes.

The department stressed that police don’t create laws, they just enforce them.

According to the announcement, “We try our best every day to do a job that the city of Seymour is proud of and will continue to seek ways to make positive connections and remain as transparent as possible with regard to minimizing our contact with inflammatory issues.”

Police make drunk-driving arrest after eastside crash

Jonathan Beene. Photo courtesy of Columbus Police Department.

Columbus police arrested a local man on drunk driving charges after a crash Friday morning on the east side of the city.

Police say they were called to the area of State and Pence Calla street at about 10:10 Friday morning for a report of a two-vehicle crash. One driver, 43-year-old Jonathan E. Beene, appeared unsteady on his feet and had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath.

Police also discovered that Beene had an outstanding warrant for failing to appear for a prior charge of driving under the influence.

Police say he refused field sobriety tests, so he was taken to Columbus Regional Hospital to have his blood drawn after officers received a warrant.

He was then arrested on a charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated as well as the outstanding warrant.

Law enforcement completes training on mental health crisis intervention

A small group of Bartholomew County deputies and Columbus police officers recently completed a course in resolving situations involving people having a mental health crisis.

Five officers completed training as a Crisis Intervention Team last week in Boone County. The officers received specialized training to help those with mental disorders  or addictions access medical treatment rather than placing them in the criminal justice system due to illness related behaviors. Organizers for the training say it also promotes officer safety and the safety of the individual in crisis.

Chief Deputy Major Chris Lane said the training gives law enforcement tools to do their job safely and effectively. He said the training has also shown to improve officers’ attitudes and knowledge about mental illness.

The agencies are coordinating to host a local Crisis Intervention Team training in the future to expand the number of trained law enforcement officers serving the Bartholomew County area.

Photo: Local law enforcement officers recently completed Crisis Intervention Training including CPD Officer Cody Wooten, CPD Sgt. Alyson Eichel, BCSO Sgt. Andrew Whipker, CPD Chaplain John Bundick, and BCSO Detective Dane Duke. Photo courtesy of Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department.

County hiring consultant to help navigate new federal funds

Bartholomew County will be hiring an outside advisor to help it spend the local share of federal funds from the most recent COVID relief bill.

The County Commissioners on Monday approved a contract not to exceed $25 thousand dollars with Baker Tilly, a Chicago based accounting and consulting company with Indianapolis offices. The money would be spent on an hourly basis over the course of the two years the funds are being made available.

County Attorney Grant Tucker said the county will be getting more than $16 million dollars through the American Recovery Plan. But the funds come with requirements and restrictions, limiting their use to specified purposes and banning them from being used for other purposes. The danger is that the county could misinterpret the rules, and have to pay back a large chunk of money.

Auditor Pia O’Connor said that she was able to handle the previous CARES act funds within her office. But this is a much larger pool of money and much more specific on its uses.


Commissioner Tony London said the consultants would also use their expertise to help the county find more money.