Category Archives: Top Story

City opts to cancel Ethnic Expo for October

Ethnic Expo will not be held this year in downtown Columbus.

Mayor Jim Lienhoop made the announcement today that the multi-cultural event, originally scheduled for Oct. 9th and 10th, has been canceled.

This would have been the 37th year for the downtown festival.

Lienhoop said that organizers “want to ensure that we are not putting our residents, neighbors, and our most vulnerable at risk. It was a difficult decision to not hold Ethnic Expo this year, but we want to be responsible in keeping the community safe.”

First Financial Bank has been the presenting sponsor of the event for the past 10 years.

Early voting continues at Donner Center for Bartholomew County primary

Tuesday is primary election day in Indiana and early voting is underway in Bartholomew County at Donner Center.

The vote center will be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Saturday, and then from 8 a.m. until noon on Monday.

Most Bartholomew County voters will be deciding on a referendum for Bartholomew Consolidated Schools to raise teachers’ pay, as well as the Democratic candidates for this fall’s Statehouse race and Republican races for Superior Court judge, County Commissioner and County Council at large.

Bartholomew County Democrats have one contested race on the ballot, for the statehouse seat that represents most of the county and Columbus. Dale Nowlin and Cinde Wirth are running to challenge incumbent State Rep. Ryan Lauer in November.

On the Republican ballot, voters will be choosing between four candidates for Superior Court judge with Scott Andrews, Dominic Glover, Joe Meek and Jon Rohde; Three candidates for County Commissioner District 3 seat, Dan Arnholt, Jo Flohr and Tony London. And seven candidates running for the three at-large seats on the Bartholomew County Council: Andrew Brunni, Laura DeDomenic, Will Lentz, Matt Miller, Derick Olson, Evelyn Pence and Bill Read.

County Commissioner Larry Kleinhenz, Coroner Clayton Nolting and Surveyor E.R. Gray are all running unopposed on the Bartholomew County Republican ballot.

Election Day is Tuesday, June 2nd and because of poll worker shortages in Bartholomew County, and a reduction in the number of locations willing to host poll stations, you will see only eight vote center locations on election day. Those will be at Flintwood Wesleyan Church, Donner Center, Terrace Lake Church, Elizabethtown Fire Station, Ogilville United Methodist Church, Hope Moravian Church, German Township Fire Station and St. John’s Masonic Lodge.

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Hope to recognize graduating Hauser seniors with Friday parade

Hope will be honoring Hauser High School’s graduating seniors Friday afternoon with a parade through the town.

Aleesa Dickerson, the school’s ag teacher and FFA advisor is helping organize the event. She said that the Class of 2020 has missed out on so much, that organizers wanted to recognize them for their accomplishments.

Dickerson said that the former students she has talked to have seemed excited and plan to participate.

Dickerson has encouraged the graduates to wear the prom dresses or sports uniforms that they never got a chance to wear this spring.

The in-vehicle parade will form up at the High School with a start time of 5 p.m. Students should be one per car and should not be driving so they can wave to the well wishers, Dickerson said.

Those wishing to watch the parade should line up in their vehicles along the parade route which heads up Elm Street, along Jackson and around the Town Square before ending at the Community Center.

The grand marshals of the parade will be retiring teachers Wanda Siebert and Kathy Kramer

Jackson County Fair cancels under COVID-19 restrictions

Organizers of the Jackson County Fair have called off this year’s event, originally scheduled for July 26th through Aug. 1st.

In a letter to the community, the fair organizers said that while Indiana’s Back on Track plan would allow for an event the size of the fair under Stage 5, the restrictions would have been unworkable and there is no guarantee that the state will have moved to Stage 5 of the plan in time for the fair.

Changes would have required only allowing livestock on the grounds the day of the fair; food stands, rides and other walkways would have had to maintain six feet of social distancing between those in line; fair buildings would have only been allowed to have one-way travel and there would have been limits on the number of people allowed inside.

Organizers ultimately determined that a large gathering in July would have posed risk to the visitors and volunteers, churches, schools and businesses that take part.

Planning is underway to transition the 4-H exhibitions usually held at the fair to a virtual format.

Coronavirus update for May 27th: County sees another death from COVID-19

Bartholomew County has had another death from COVID-19.

According to the most recent update from the Indiana State Department of Health, there are 32,437 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Indiana, an increase of 370 cases since Tuesday’s report.

There have been 1,871 deaths in Indiana as of Wednesday afternoon’s update, an increase of 18 deaths from the previous numbers.

Bartholomew County has 486 confirmed cases and there have been 34 deaths from COVID-19 in Bartholomew County, an increase of one since yesterday.

In other area counties, Decatur County has had 224 cases and 31 deaths, Jennings 128 cases and 4 deaths, Jackson 368 cases and 1 death, Brown 33 cases and 1 death, Johnson 1,092 cases and 104 deaths, Shelby 321 cases and 21 deaths.

State Road 11 to close near Columbus on June 1

State Road 11 between downtown Columbus and Garden City will be closing down for a month starting early Monday morning.

The Indiana Department of Transportation reports that the highway will be closing just south of the State Road 46/Jonathan Moore Pike intersection for 30 days while crews replace the pavement and install drainage structures.

This is part of the $30 million dollar project to install an overpass into downtown Columbus, allowing traffic to bypass the railroad tracks.

The agency expects the road to shut down at midnight on June 1st, meaning it will be closed during Monday morning’s commute. The official detour will follow Interstate 65 from Columbus to Exit 55 at Jonesville.

Those needing access to the veterinary office within the closure area will be able to reach the facility from the south while the road is closed.

Milestone Contractors is doing the work on the project.

INDOT says that drivers should slow down, use extra caution and avoid distractions while in workzones.

The schedule is dependent on the weather.

Two arrested on drug charges after East Columbus traffic stop

Stephen B. Wyatt. Photo courtesy of Columbus Police Department.

Two people were arrested on drug charges early Wednesday morning after a traffic stop in eastern Columbus.

Shortly before 2 a.m., Columbus Police stopped a vehicle for a minor traffic violation near 10th Street and McClure Road. While officers spoke with the driver, 25 year old Alison Overfelt, of Columbus they noticed that her passenger, 57-year-old Stephen B. Wyatt of Elizabethtown, was acting nervous. A police dog alerted to the odor of narcotics coming from the vehicle.

Inside the vehicle, officers reportedly found methamphetamine, Suboxone pills, marijuana, multiple syringes, along with drug paraphernalia including a pipe, scales, and corner cut baggies.

Both Overfelt and Wyatt were arrested.

Alison Overfelt. Photo courtesy of Columbus Police Department.

Wyatt is facing charges of possession of a legend drug injection device, methamphetamine, a legend drug, a controlled substance, marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

Overfelt is being accused of possessing methamphetamine, a legend drug injection device and drug paraphernalia.

Plasma therapy helping in more than half of the tests at CRH

Columbus Regional Health is reporting that it has treated 40 COVID-19 patients with plasma donated by those who have already recovered from the disease, and so far the hospital is seeing good results.

The hospital announced last month that it was taking part in a partnership with the Mayo Clinic and blood research institute Versiti to use the donated plasma on patients with severe symptoms.

Over half of the patients treated with the donated plasma have been discharged and sent home or continue to improve their condition.

Anyone who has had a positive test for COVID-19 antibodies may donate plasma. CRH is offering antibody testing and anyone can have the testing done who thinks they may have been COVID-19 positive, whether or not that was ever confirmed by a lab test.

Potential donors who are eligible for the program will be able to donate at a Versiti Blood Bank location in Indianapolis or the mobile unit that visits Columbus weekly. To donate you must be at least 18 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and you must be symptom free for 14 days before being eligible to donate.

You can get more information at

COVID-19 Relief Fund for Bartholomew County tops $555k

The United Way of Bartholomew County says that its COVID-19 relief fund has now passed half a million dollars.

Magen Pillar, spokeswoman for the agency, highlighted a recent $5,000 donation by Horizon Bank to the fund which is working with those hit hard by the pandemic.

Pillar says that donations to the fund are being sent to local agencies that work closely with those most in need. Of the more than $555,783 raised so far, United Way has allocated money to nine local agencies which have helped about 2,500 people in need in the community

Horizon Bank Inc. is an independent, commercial bank holding company serving Indiana and Michigan

Columbus Scottish Festival cancels September event

Columbus Scottish Festival organizers are calling off this year’s event due to concerns over COVID-19. The announcement was made this weekend that the 29th annual event will be postponed until 2021.

Organizers said that while they love to share Scottish culture in Columbus with southern Indiana, the risk of endangering the health of participants meant holding the event was not an option.

The event would have been held September 12th and 13th.

The Scottish Festival will have an online component through social media and the organizing committee is looking for ways to commemorate the missing festival. You can get more information on facebook at or at their website at