Monthly Archives: July 2022

Silver Alert issued for missing Seymour man

William Hankins. Photo courtesy of Indiana State Police

A statewide Silver Alert has been issued for a missing Jackson County man.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the disappearance of 31-year-old William Hankins. He is a white man, 5 feet 9 inches tall and 250 pounds with blonde hair and hazel eyes. He was last seen wearing a black shirt with skulls and black pants.

Hankins is missing from Seymour. He was last seen on Tuesday at 5:30 a.m. He is believed to be in extreme danger and may require medical assistance.

If you have any information on William Hankins, contact the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department at 812-358-2141 or 911.

COVID hospitalizations grow, still below pandemic highs

Local COVID-19 numbers continue to increase, although they are still much lower than the pandemic high mark set earlier this year.

The Bartholomew County COVID-19 Community Task Force released updated numbers yesterday, showing 17 patients hospitalized with the disease. That is a new high in the current surge since June 21st, when there were 16 people hospitalized. At the peak of the pandemic in January, there were 70 people hospitalized for COVID-19 in the county.

Bartholomew County and almost all of the surrounding counties continue to be classified as showing high transmission of the disease by the CDC. Brown County shows medium transmission of the disease.

According to the CDC, Bartholomew County residents should:

  • Wear a mask indoors in public
  • Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines
  • Get tested if you have symptoms
  • Additional precautions may be needed for people at high risk for severe illness

Filing opens for November school board candidates

The filing period has opened for school board candidates in the November election.

According to the Bartholomew County Clerk’s Voter Registration office, in the Bartholomew Consolidated Schools races, incumbent Rich Stenner has filed to run again for his district 2 seat, incumbent Kathy Dayhoff-Dwyer has filed to run again in District 6 and Dale Nowlin has filed to run in District 4, for the seat currently held by Julie Bilz. In Flatrock-Hawcreek Schools, incumbent Pat Walters has filed to run again for the at-large seat on the board.

To run, candidates must submit petitions with 10 signatures from residents. After the petitions are checked and approved by the clerk’s office, the candidates then file to become certified.

Registration started Wednesday and the filing period runs through August 26th.

Weather delays road project on west side of Columbus

Severe weather earlier this week has led INDOT to reschedule work on State Road 46 at Interstate 65 in Columbus.

Crews will be installing a camera pole on the highway as part of the $65 million dollar project adding travel lanes to Interstate 65.

The work is now scheduled to start Friday morning and going through the weekend. Crews will be closing the right lane of westbound State Road 46 starting at 6 in the morning each day, with the lane being reopened in the evening. The work is expected to be completed early next week, weather permitting.

INDOT asks you to slow down, to drive without distractions and to be alert to worker safety in all construction zones.

Hope hosting run/walk to benefit non-profit news website

The town of Hope will be holding a 5k run/walk next weekend to benefit the community’s non-profit news website and Hauser High School athletics.

The event is being held to benefit HSJ Online, the community news website started in 2015 after the closing of the Hope Star-Journal newspaper. The entry fee is $30 for adults and $25 for students with 15 percent of the proceeds going to benefit the athletics department at Hauser.

The Hope Run is scheduled for Saturday Aug. 6th at the Flat Rock-Hawcreek Schools campus with a flexible start time between 8:30 and 10 a.m. Registration forms are available at Special By Design and WILLow LeaVes on the Hope Town Square and Hoosier Sporting Goods.

HSJ Online operates under the non-profit umbrella of Heritage of Hope.

You can get more information at

Duke Energy Foundation provides local emergency grants

Duke Energy Foundation is announcing grants to assist local communities with needs for first responders.

The foundation awarded more than $175,000 to 47 emergency management agencies across Duke’s Indiana service area. The grants will go to fund programs such as search and rescue dogs, search and rescue programs for “at risk” individuals, tornado sirens, volunteer training as well as emergency preparedness and response programs.

Agencies were eligible for up to $10,000 in funding. Area awards included:

Bartholomew County is receiving $3,200 and Brown County $5,000. Decatur, Jackson and Jennings counties are each receiving $2,800. Johnson County has been awarded $6,341 and Shelby County $5,000.

The Duke Energy Foundation contributes more than $2 million in charitable gifts annually across Indiana and is funded by Duke Energy shareholder dollars.

Columbus police commended for lifesaving efforts

Sgt. Richie Howell. Photo courtesy of Columbus Police Department.

Three Columbus police officers are being commended for their work to save lives in June.

Chief Michael Richardson presented letters of commendation recently to Sgt. Richie Howell and to officers Frank Dickman and Kelly Holley.

Howell was off duty and at home on June 14th when he found out that a neighbor was having a medical emergency. Howell went to the home and provided lifesaving measures until Columbus firefighters and medics arrived.

Dickman and Holley were called to the 600 block of Maple Street on June 19th and found two people and a dog unconscious in a home where a generator was running. Recognizing that the victims were likely overcome by carbon monoxide, they opened windows and then carried the victims and their dog to safety. All three survived.

Richardson praised the officers for their quick-thinking and life-saving actions, saying that “It makes me proud to know that regardless if they are on or off duty, these CPD officers responded with the professionalism that our community can be proud of.”

Officer Frank Dickman. Photo courtesy of Columbus Police Department.
Officer Kelly Holley. Photo courtesy of Columbus Police Department.

Board recommends $1.2 million in substance abuse prevention efforts

Officials are recommending that Bartholomew County and Columbus spend more than $1.2 million dollars on local efforts to fight drug addiction in the coming year.

The community’s Substance Abuse Public Funding Board met this week and recommended that the city and county split the cost of the programs 50/50 when approving next year’s budgets. The board was established to advise the city and county on how to spend revenue set aside for drug abuse prevention programs from a public safety income tax. The funding board includes officials from the city, county and Columbus Regional Health.

The Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress and Sober Living requested $555,380, the Recovery Enables A Life for Men program in the county community corrections department requested $229,78, the Bartholomew County Courts Adult Drug Recovery Court requested just over $248,19 and the Bartholomew County Jail Addiction Treatment Program requested more than $189,414.

After being approved by the board, the requests will now go to the city and county councils, said Mary Ferdon, the city’s director of administration and community development.

Teen arrested in vandalism at North Vernon pool

Keegan Barnes. Photo courtesy of Jennings County Jail.

North Vernon Police have made an arrest in a vandalism at the city pool.

According to North Vernon Police Department reports, officers were called to the North Vernon City Park aquatic center on Saturday morning after motor oil and cat litter had been dumped into the pool overnight. Police recovered video footage of the incident.

Further investigation uncovered video from a local store that was taken about an hour before the vandalism, showing suspects buying cat litter and motor oil.

Police identified 19-year-old Keegan Barnes of North Vernon and he was arrested Monday on preliminary charges of criminal trespass and criminal mischief. Police also identified three juveniles involved in the incident and more charges could be forthcoming, police say.