Monthly Archives: November 2023

Driver seriously injured after crash into Jennings home

Jennings County authorities say a crash into a home in Country Squire Lakes left a driver seriously injured Tuesday night.

According to the sheriff’s department, deputies were called to scene at about 11:30 p.m. and found that three vehicles in a driveway along with the house itself were seriously damaged when the woman driving the vehicle lost control. The home was occupied at the time of the crash, but no one inside was hurt.

The driver was flown to a Louisville area hospital for treatment.

Police believe speed and alcohol were both factors in the crash. Due to the driver’s serious injuries no arrests have been made. Her name has not yet been released.

The investigation is ongoing. After it is complete it will be forwarded to the Jennings County Prosecutor’s office for review of any charges.

Photo courtesy of Jennings County Sheriff’s Department.

Festival of Lights parade returns to downtown Columbus Saturday

The Festival of Lights parade returns to downtown Columbus on Saturday with new organizers, new events and new energy.

Sarah Forbes, an organizer of the renewed event, explains that after the previous organizers opted not to continue the parade, she and others formed the non-profit Red Arch Community Events, Inc. to bring it back. She said the amount of support and enthusiasm among community members was almost overwhelming.

The parade itself, with more than 100 entrants, will start at 6 p.m. but leading up to the event will be activities for all ages. Organizer Amy Behrquist explains that partnerships with other non profit groups has been a key.

Leading up to the event will be activities for all ages, starting with a non-profit showcase from noon to 4 at the Commons. You can also get pictures with Santa starting at noon at the Commons. There will be a Santa’s Candyland Parking Lot Party at Centra Credit Union on 5th street from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. And there will be Reindeer Games in the 700 block of Washington Street from 4 to 6 p.m.

After the parade there will be fireworks viewable from the parade route, sponsored by Re/Max Real Estate and Zaharakos.

Two facing charges in fatal August crash on Interstate 65

Two men are now facing charges after an investigation into an August crash that left a Greenfield woman who drove for Tony Stewart’s racing team dead.

According to the Indiana State Police, 24-year-old Ashlea Albertson died from injuries suffered in the accident on Aug. 18th. The incident happened that morning just south of Seymour on Interstate 65.

The investigation revealed that a car driven by 22-year-old Austin Cooper of Austin tried to change lanes into the path of an SUV being driven by 31-year-old Jacob Kelly of Indianapolis. The two vehicles began jockeying for position at speeds of more than 90 mph. Kelly lost control and spun, striking the other vehicle causing both to crash. Kelly’s vehicle rolled and Albertson, a passenger, was ejected. Cooper’s vehicle left the road and ended up in a field.

Kelly and Albertson were both airlifted to Louisville, where Kelly was treated for non-life-threatening injuries and Albertson was pronounced dead. Cooper and a juvenile passenger were taken to Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, also for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

Toxicology results were obtained on both drivers after the crash. The results of those tests indicated that Cooper had THC in his system at the time.

After the investigation, the case was presented to the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office for review. Cooper was charged with Causing Death when Operating a Motor Vehicle with a Controlled Substance and Reckless Homicide. Kelly is being charged with Reckless Homicide..

Kelly was arrested on Monday in Indianapolis and Cooper, who know lives in Kentucky, turned himself in at the Jackson County Jail in Brownstown.

Photo of Ashlea Albertson courtesy of Tony Stewart Racing.

Report: Pence considered backing out of vote-counting duties

ABC News is reporting that Columbus native and former Vice President Mike Pence considered backing out of the duties of counting the electoral votes on Jan. 6th, 2021.  However a plea from his Marine son kept the vice president on duty.

According to the report, which cited Pence’s discussions with special counsel Jack Smith’s team of investigators, Pence concluded on Christmas Eve 2020 that he would follow a suggestion from then-President Donald Trump to abstain from the duties, instead letting them fall to someone else. Pence wrote in his notes that he didn’t want to hurt his friend, the president, and there were too many questions about the election to proceed.

However, Pence’s son, a Marine on leave in Colorado, stressed to his father that the vice president took the same oath as service members to support and defend the U.S. Constiutuion.

Pence went on to oversee the vote-counting process, drawing condemnation from Trump and his supporters.

Jackson Chamber seeks to Keep the Cheer Here this season

The Jackson County Chamber of Commerce is promoting local businesses during this holiday season with its Keep the Cheer Here program.

By scanning a QR code on your phone and uploading receipts, participants will be entered to win prizes from local businesses. If you can’t scan the code, or prefer to take part in the contest without going online, you can submit your local receipts at the Jackson Chamber offices on Chestnut Street. For each $25 you spend locally, you will receive one entry into the competition. The grand prize is an experience at Top Golf, sponsored by the Steve Silver Team at RE/MAX Professionals of Seymour.

The program promotes shopping, eating and giving at local Chamber member businesses. If you take part at one of the sponsor locations you will earn double points. You can find a complete list of sponsors on the chamber website at

The promotion runs through January 8th.

Two facing drug charges after Hope traffic stop

Two people were arrested on drug-related charges after a traffic stop in Hope prompted by fake license plates.

According to the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department, a deputy noticed the fictious license plate and pulled over the vehicle at about 11:30 p.m. Sunday night near State Road 9 and Midway Drive.

A police dog alerted to the smell of narcotics inside the vehicle and a search revealed about 22 grams of methamphetamine.

The driver, 36-year old Calvin Dampier and a passenger, 36-year-old Jennifer Elgar, both of Columbus, were taken into custody and are facing charges of dealing in and possessing meth. Dampier is also being accused of driving while suspended and Elgar is facing a charge for possessing drug paraphernalia.

Calvin Dampier. Photo courtesy of Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department.
Jennifer Elgar. Photo courtesy of Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department.


Brown County recognized for clean community efforts

Brown County is being recognized for taking part in the pilot program for the Indiana Clean Community initiative through the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

It was one of five communities to receive the silver award status at a recent annual meeting. The Clean Community Program recognizes Indiana communities that work toward a better quality of life and a healthy economy through sustainable environmental and wellness projects.

Based on feedback from the pilot programs, which also included Beech Grove, Fishers, Richmond, Zionsville and Merrillville, IDEM is retooling the program to accept a broader range of projects, to encourage cooperation and partnerships and to reduce paperwork requirements.

The Clean Community Program replaces the Indiana Clean Community Challenge, which started in the early 2000s.

Former Toyota executive honored with industry service award

A former Toyota Material Handling executive is being recognized by a national trade organization.

According to the Columbus company, the Industrial Truck Association recently recognized former president and CEO Jeff Rufener with this year’s Meritorious Service Award. The award recognizes leaders who serve the organization and advance material handling industry.

Brett Wood, Toyota Material Handling North America ‘s President & CEO said that Rufener led the industry for more than four decades. Wood said that Rufener had a humble and inspirational leadership that “motivated others to embrace challenges and improve each day”

During Rufener’s time with Toyota, which started in 2011, he led the company’s move of its headquarters to Columbus and oversaw the integration of Toyota Material Handling and Toyota Industrial Equipment Manufacturing creating a single company. He retired in 2021.

Rufener served as the ITA Chairman from 2009-2011, as well as serving on the executive committee and as a board member. He helped found the inaugural National Forklift Safety Day and advocated for increased safety in the industry through operator training, educational programs and other improvements.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Material Handling. Brett Wood, Toyota Material Handling North America President & CEO; Jeff Rufener, former Toyota Material Handling President & CEO and recipient of ITA Meritorious Service Award; Bill Finerty, Toyota Material Handling President & CEO

Ivy Tech to lead winter bird count at Driftwood fishing area

You will have a chance to learn more about the natural environment next weekend with a nature hike hosted by Ivy Tech Community College Columbus science department faculty members.

According to the school, the hike will be a winter bird count. It will start at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9th at the Driftwood Public Fishing Area in the first parking lot off of U.S. 31 in Edinburgh at (8825 S U.S Hwy 31, Edinburgh, IN 46124.)

Al community members are welcome and you are invited to attend. You should dress accordingly for the cold weather. While the school will have some binoculars available, you are encouraged to bring your own if you can.

If you have any questions, you can reach Dr. Tom Sobat at [email protected].

Driftwood Fishing Area map courtesy of Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Applications being taken for 2024 session of Columbus Public Safety Academy

Columbus is taking applications for the next session of its public safety academy.

According to Columbus police, the academy has been offered for almost 30 years and more than 1,000 residents have taken part.

The free 11-week course gives participants a look behind the scenes of public safety agencies in the city of Columbus and Bartholomew County. In previous classes, students have learned about the Columbus Police Department Bomb Squad, SWAT Team, Criminal Investigations, Narcotics/Vice Units, County Jail and K-9 Division. They have also fired weapons on the police gun range and used Columbus Fire Department equipment to cut open a wrecked vehicle and put out a fire correctly with a fire extinguisher.

This year’s academy will conclude with a scenario night where academy participants assume the role of a police officer and will be “dispatched” to simulated calls where their actions will dictate the outcome of the event.

The sessions begin on March 5th and will be from 6 to 9 p.m. in the evening. To take part you must be 18 and undergo a criminal background check.

You can find a link to sign up here: