Monthly Archives: August 2022

State associations honors Columbus City Utilities employee

Randy Duckworth. Photo courtesy of Columbus City Utilities.

A statewide association is recognizing a Columbus City Utilties employee with its Operator of the Year Award.

According to Columbus City Utilities, Randy Duckworth received the award earlier this month from the Indiana Water Environment Association. The award recognizes Duckworth’s long-standing contribution to the success of the city’s Water Resource Recovery Facility.

Duckworth has worked with Columbus City Utilities since 1979 in various positions. He has served in his current position as Manager of Operations since 2017.

Gunshots lead to arrest during disturbance

Braeden W. Berger

A Columbus man is under arrest, accused of firing a gun during a disturbance Sunday night.

According to Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department reports, deputies were called to the 2000 block of W. Brookdale Drive at about 10:17 p.m. Sunday. Several people had called 911 to report shots had been fired.

20 year old Braeden Berger was arrested at the scene and is being held on preliminary charges of:

  • Operating while intoxicated
  • Illegal consumption of alcohol
  • Criminal recklessness with a firearm
  • Pointing a firearm
  • Intimidation with a deadly weapon

Our Hospice fundraising sale continues at Nexus Park today

Organizers of the free hospice concert coming this weekend at Mill Race Park, are continuing a sale in the parking lot of Nexus Park today.

There you can buy cookies, T-shirts and raffle tickets. Raffle tickets are $10 each, bags of cookies will be $15 for a box of three dozen, and concert shirts will be $20. The sale is from noon to 6 p.m.

Yacht Rock Revue will be performing live at Saturday’s concert in the park, which starts at 6:30 p.m. in the evening. The concert, in its 36th year, is the largest fundraiser for Our Hospice of South-Central Indiana.

Our Hospice of South Central Indiana is a not-for-profit hospice providing care to patients and families in 16 counties, with offices in Columbus, North Vernon and Greensburg.

You can get more information, make a donation or buy raffle tickets at

Heritage Fund announces $142k in community grants

Heritage Fund: The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County is announcing more than $142 thousand dollars in grants to local organizations from its Community Fund this quarter.

Each year, Heritage Fund distributes between $600,000 and $700,000 in grants from the Community Fund. The unrestricted funds are meant to meet needs in the areas of Youth Development, Substance Abuse, Neighborhood Revitalization, Innovation and Creativity and creating a Welcoming Community.

Among the grants this quarter were $90 thousand to the Columbus Area Chamber Foundation to support the Velocities entrepreneurial partnership with Bloomington, $11,500 to REACH Columbus and $10,000 to Utopia Wildlife Rehabilitators for strategic planning and $8,500 to the Boy Scouts to support a partnership with Foundation For Youth.

Students Fund of Hope received $5,000 to support its efforts in the Hope and Hartsville areas, the Bartholomew County Solid Waste Management District is receiving $4,420 for recycling program improvements and Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana is receiving $4,275 to buy food for the Senior Mobile Food pantry in partnership with Salvation Army.

The next quarterly grand application deadline is tomorrow. For more information you can call Heritage Fund at 812-376-7772.

Fire destroys downtown Columbus garage

An early morning fire destroyed a garage in downtown Columbus yesterday.

According to reports from the Columbus Fire Department, firefighters were called to the 800 block of 12th Street about 12:17 a.m. Tuesday morning for a fire behind a business.

When firefighters got on scene, they found a detached garage was showing heavy fire and had spread to two nearby privacy fences. Heat from the fire was also causing damage to the vinyl siding of a nearby building.

Firefighters streamed water onto the fire and onto neighboring businesses to keep the fire from extending. Materials inside the garage were already burning and the garage showed structural instability so firefighters were not able to go inside. The walls of the garage and the roof collapsed.

Firefighters say the building and its contents were a total loss. Damages are estimated at $30,000. No injuries were reported.

Photo courtesy of Columbus Fire Department.

Seymour man accused of sex with teen

Juan Pascal-Gaspar. Photo courtesy of Jackson County Jail.

A Seymour resident has been arrested, accused of having sexual relations with a teenager.

According to Seymour Police Department reports, investigators were told back in February that a man started having sex with a 14-year-old girl last summer, when he was 20. Police began looking for the suspect without success, but a tip last week led them to interview 21-year-old Juan Pascal-Gaspar.

Police say that during a interview on Monday Pascal-Gaspar admitted to having sex with the minor on at least two occasions. He was arrested on two counts of sexual misconduct with a minor.

State police warn of holiday crackdown on impaired driving

Indiana State Police are joining other police agencies around the state cracking down on impaired drivers through the upcoming holiday weekend.

You will see officers out on the road in high visibility patrols, targeting drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol with the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over blitz.

Drunk driving is involved in about a quarter of Indiana’s fatal crashes. Police say drunk driving not only risks your life and the lives of others, but you could also could face arrest, jail time, and substantial fines and attorney fees. The average drunk driving arrest costs up to $10,000.

Police say that even if you have had only one drink, you should designate a sober driver, use public transportation or use a ride service to get home safely.

The extra high-visibility enforcement effort is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration through grants administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.

Jennings deputies break up multi-county theft ring

Mary Wood. Photo courtesy of Jennings County Sheriff’s Department.

Jennings County deputies stopped a burglary in progress, recovered more than $100,000 in stolen goods and believe they have solved burglary cases in several counties.

According to reports from the Jennings County Sheriff’s Department, deputies were called to the 1100 block of North County Road 75E on Thursday evening. Deputies discovered several items reported stolen including a Honda ATV, a truck from Austin, a trailer and a zero-turn lawn mower reported stolen from Jefferson County.

They took 36-year-old Mary Wood of Austin into custody on a preliminary charge of possession of stolen property.

Jeremy Toppe. Photo courtesy of Jennings County Sheriff’s Department.

Further investigation led to a property in the 3200 block of South County Road 600E where police recovered stolen items including a camper, side-by side and several thousand dollars worth of tools.

Deputies stopped a vehicle believed to be involved in the cases and arrested 32-year-old Jeremy Toppe and 26-year-old Kristin Prewitt, both of Seymour, on preliminary charges of burglary.

Deputies say they are still searching for 39-year-old Ryan Beeman of North Vernon who they believe is involved in the case. If you have any information on the location of Beeman, you can contact Jennings County Central Dispatch at 812-346-4911.


Kristin Prewitt. Photo courtesy of Jennings County Sheriff’s Department.


Columbus chosen as community of the year by Indiana Chamber

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce is honoring Columbus as its 2022 Cummins Community of the Year.

“Columbus possesses the rural feel of a small, Midwestern community along with the talent, innovation and culture typically found in large cities. The mix is dynamite,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.

The honor was announced Monday afternoon with a ceremony at Columbus City Hall.

According to the state group, Columbus was selected earlier this summer after a thorough review of all cities under consideration. Those nominations came from the communities themselves or through individuals recognizing an area’s progress and commitment to its businesses and citizens. They were then reviewed by a five-person Indiana Chamber panel.

Columbus-based Cummins Inc. signed on to be the award’s title sponsor a week ago,  after learning of Columbus’ recognition.

Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop  said Columbus leaders want to be the best community of our size in the country. “While different people may define it differently, everybody understands that what we’re after here is excellence,” Lienhoop said.

Lienhoop said the honor validates that efforts are having the intended impact.

The chamber praised the city’s business climate, philanthropic spirit, exceptional workforce, magnificent architecture and quality of life, saying the Columbus achievements illustrate what a thriving place is.

The Chamber also praised Columbus various improvement initiatives including:

Renovating the former Fair Oaks Mall into NexusPark.

Columbus Propeller, an innovation center and “makerspace,” launched last fall.

Velocities, the $2.5 million partnership between the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, The Mill in Bloomington and Elevate Ventures.

Columbus was one of the first community of the year recipients from the Indiana Chamber, back in 1992.

The formal presentation will come at the Indiana Chamber’s 33rd Annual Awards program, presented by Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, November 16 at the Indiana Convention Center. A table of 10 in the Columbus Community of the Year section is $1,650 and individual tickets are $165 each. You can get more information at

Photo: Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop shakes hands with Kevin Brinegar, head of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. Photo courtesy of Indiana Chamber.