Monthly Archives: March 2024

Government offices closed for Good Friday; Columbus trash routes on schedule

Local government offices will be closed tomorrow to observe Good Friday.

That includes the Columbus Department of Public Works offices, however trash collections will be running on their normal schedule. You should have your trash and recycling at the curb at your normal time tomorrow.

The Bartholomew County and Columbus Recycling Center will be closed on Friday. That will also affect the Commercial Cardboard Recycling Route for the Bartholomew County Solid Waste Management District. The center will reopen Monday at 7:30 a.m.

The Bartholomew County Landfill will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday and from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Columbus City Utilities offices will also be closed. If you have a problem with your water or sewer service, you can call 812-372-8861.

Two injured in crash with stolen pickup in Greensburg

Two people were seriously injured after a stolen vehicle crashed during a police chase in Decatur County this week.

According to the Indiana State Police, the incident started Tuesday evening in Greensburg. City police were called to investigate a suspicious vehicle in the Walmart parking lot and when officers arrived, the driver of the pickup fled the scene. The driver drove across the parking lot and through a grassy ditch before heading south onto East Nightingale Drive. The officer caught up to the vehicle and found it had crashed into another pickup.

The first driver, Chane Rager of Nebraska and the second pickup driver, John Brooks of Greensburg, both suffered serious injuries and were taken to IU Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. Brooks was flown to the hospital by Statflight helicopter.

Police also discovered that the first pickup had been reported stolen from Nebraska.

Indiana State Police were called in to help with the crash reconstruction Tuesday evening. Greensburg Police are investigating for possible criminal charges.

The crash remains under investigation.

Spots still open for United Way tax filing help

The United Way of Bartholomew County still has openings for its tax filing assistance program.

The VITA Volunteer Tax Assistance program is available to Bartholomew County residents who make $66,000 or less. Volunteers are certified by the IRS and they provide basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals.

The tax filings will be offered through mid-April at the Doug Otto United Way Center on 13th Street in Columbus.

Reservations are available on a first-come first-served basis. You can sign up by calling 812-375-2216 between 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays or by going online to

Seymour police looking for school bus stop arm offenders

Seymour police are stepping up efforts to crack down on those who drive dangerously around school buses.

According to the Seymour Police Department, officers are taking part in a national initiative to prevent stop-arm violations, speeding and other forms of reckless driving around school buses and in school zones.

According to Lt. Michael Cooper with the department, when you see a school bus flashing its lights and the stop arm is extended, you must come to a complete stop. He says that is not a suggestion, but the law.

A one-day study done last April in Indiana recorded more than 2,000 stop arm violations just in that day. That could mean more than 376 thousand incidents happening throughout the school year.

During the special enforcement period, police are working with local bus drivers and school transportation officials, focusing on the morning and afternoon hours. The goal of the campaign is to raise awareness about the importance of school bus safety.

Drivers who disregard a school bus stop arm could face a fine of up to $10,000, have their license suspended for up to 90 days for the first offense or up to 1 year for the second. If someone is injured or killed during a stop arm violation, it rises to the level of a felony.

The overtime patrols for the campaign are being paid for by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration through grants administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.

New highway sign installs require Interstate 65 lane closures

Installation of a new series of electronic highway signs on Interstate 65 through southern Indiana is set to start next week, with some traffic changes required.

According to the Indiana Department of Transportation, contractor crews will be working on the seven message boards in Johnson, Bartholomew, Jackson, Scott and Clark counties. The work will be happening between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. each day, starting Monday

The schedule would see the right lane of southbound I-65 north of Franklin closing Monday night. There will be lane closings in Bartholomew County Tuesday and Wednesday, with work moving to Jackson County Thursday. Tuesday’s work will be happening north of the Edinburgh exit in the southbound lanes. Wednesday the work will move about three miles north of the Columbus exit in the northbound lanes. And on Thursday, the work will be north of Seymour in the southbound lanes.

The work schedule is dependent on the weather.

The work is part of a $6.5 million contract awarded to Midwestern Electric.

INDOT urges you to slow down, to drive without distractions, to use extra caution and to be alert to worker safety in all work zones.

Body of woman found in East Fork White River downtown

An investigation is underway to determine the identify of a woman after her body was discovered in the East Fork White River in Columbus Wednesday.

According to Indiana Department of Natural Resources conservation officers, a kayaker discovered the body of the woman near the Water Road public access ramp at about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. Conservation officers say that the body is that of a white woman and no evidence of foul play was found. Authorities say the cause of the woman’s death is pending an autopsy by the Bartholomew County coroner’s office.

The death is under investigation by conservation officers and the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department. If you have any information on the woman’s identity you should contact the conservation officers dispatch center at 812-837-9536 .

Centra opening new northern Indiana service center

Columbus based Centra Credit Union is opening a new service center in Lebanon.

According to the credit union, the new center is part of the merger with NorthPark Community Credit Union. Credit union members will be able to meet with financial professionals and visit a drive up interactive teller ATM machine with extended hours.

Centra President and CEO Rick Silvers says the new center will allow the organization to expand its reach to an even larger footprint. This will be the 27th location operated by the credit union. It will be at 450 South Lebanon Street.

Community health survey underway in CRH region

An independent public health survey is underway to determine the health needs of the Bartholomew County community.

A national organization is conducting the survey for Columbus Regional Health by phone and on the Internet through May. Information that is gathered will be used to help the health network identify and address the most critical community health issues.

The anonymous survey is being conducted by PRC and you may receive a phone call with a caller ID representing Columbus Regional Health. You will not be asked to provide any personally identifying information. The survey has been conducted every three years since 1996. It is meant to discover the the health, behaviors and needs of the community served by Columbus Regional Health. CRH’s Healthy Communities initiative will use the information to improve community health and wellness, as well as address equitable access to health services and discover health disparities.

You may also take the survey online here:

Columbus swears in seven new firefighters

Columbus Fire Department is welcoming seven new firefighters after they were sworn in Tuesday morning by Mayor Mary Ferdon.

The new firefighters are 31-year-old Dalton Thompson, 23-year-old Cameron Ziegler and 21-year old Trae Haley all from Columbus, 25-year-old Brandon Farr and 25-year-old Tristian Hanna, both from Decatur County, 35-year-old Wesley Thayer of Jennings County and 31-year-old George Hilderbrand III originally from Jacksonville Florida.

The new firefighters will go through a department orientation and training program. If not already certified, they will be trained as a Basic Emergency Medical Technician certification, Firefighter I & II and in Hazardous Materials Operations and Awareness. At the end of their training, each firefighter will then receive a station and shift assignments.

The seven new firefighters will replace those who have recently retired or resigned. The biographies of the new firefighters:

  • Farr is a 2017 graduate of South Decatur High School. Firefighter Farr was part of the Letts Volunteer Fire Department cadet program from 2016 to 2017. Firefighter Farr has obtained Firefighter I and Firefighter II certifications, Hazardous Materials Awareness and Operations Certifications, Technical Rescue Awareness and Numerous National Incident Management System (NIMS) Certifications.
  • Haley is a 2021 graduate of Columbus North High School and attended courses at Franklin College. Firefighter Haley has over two years of firefighting experience with the German Township Volunteer Fire Department and one year of experience with the Harrison Township Fire Department. In additional to being a nationally registered Emergency Medical Technician, Haley has both a Firefighter I and Firefighter II certification.
  • Hanna is a 2017 graduate of North Decatur High School. Firefighter Hanna is a member of the Indiana Army National Guard since 2015 where he is a firefighter. Hanna has served in both volunteer and career fire departments organizations in Southern Indiana.  Agencies include the Metamora Volunteer Fire Department, Versailles Volunteer Fire Department, Georgetown Township Fire Protection District and the New Washington Fire & Ems Department. Hanna is a certified emergency medical technician and also hold Firefighter I and Firefighter II certifications. Hanna is also certified in Hazardous Materials Awareness and Operations as well as Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF).
  • Hilderbrand is a 2011 graduate of the Jacksonville (FL) Christian Academy. Firefighter Hilderbrand has served in both volunteer and career firefighter capacity with several agencies. Hilderbrand served as a Clay Township Fire and Rescue Volunteer for two years, Macclenney Fire and Rescue for four years, Jacksonville Fire and Rescue for four years and Harrison Township (IN) Fire Department for one year. Firefighter Hilderbrand is an Emergency Medical Technician and certified as a Hazardous Materials Technician, Confined Space Rescue Technician and Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF).Hilderbrand is also Firefighter I and Firefighter II certified.
  • Thayer is a 2006 graduate of Jennings County High School and hold an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrison College. Prior to his appointment with the Columbus Fire Department, Thayer served eleven years as a law enforcement officer with the North Vernon Police Department and the Jennings County Sheriff’s Department where he served in several roles including Patrol Officer, Detective and School Resource Officer. Firefighter Thayer has also served two years with the Geneva Township Fire Department in Jennings County. Thayer hold a Firefighter I and Firefighter II certification, CPR certification and has obtained numerous National Incident Management System (NIMS) certifications.
  • Thompson is a 2011 graduate of Columbus East High School. Thompson has served as a career firefighter with Columbus Township Fire and Rescue for one year. In addition to Firefighter I and Firefighter II certifications, Thompson’s certifications include Hazardous Materials Awareness and Operations, Technical Rescue Awareness and Rope Rescue Technician.
  • Ziegler is a 2019 graduate of Columbus North High School. Firefighter Ziegler’s training includes certifications in Hazardous Materials Awareness and Operations.

Photo: Columbus Mayor Mary Ferdon swears in seven new members of the Columbus Fire Department Tuesday at City Hall. (left to right): Brandon Farr, Cameron Ziegler, Dalton Thompson, George Hilderbrand III, Trae Haley, Tristian Hanna, Wesley Thayer. Photo courtesy of Columbus Fire Department.

Bartholomew County to seek ban on bio-solid imports

Bartholomew County Commissioners are considering new rules about how processed human waste can be used on local farm fields.

This week the commissioners tasked the county attorney with drafting an ordinance that would ban the use or even storage of bio-solids being shipped in from other communities. Bio-solids are a nutrient rich material that is extracted from sewage at wastewater treatment facilities to be used as an agricultural fertilizer.

County Commissioners President Larry Kleinhenz said the process has raised questions after plans were proposed by a local company to bring the material here from other communities.

Commissioner Tony London said that the county has no desire to regulate the use of bio-solid material that originates in Bartholomew County, a process that has been going on for more than 40 years. However, there are concerns about the safety and sanitation processes happening on the waste coming from other communities. He said improperly treated materials can cause diseases and runoff can be dangerous.

Kleinhenz said that county attorney Grant Tucker would draft an ordinance for the commissioners consideration and community input