Category Archives: Top Story

Jennings school evacuated after bomb, gun threats

No bombs or weapons were found in Jennings County schools after a series of phone messages seemed to make threats yesterday afternoon.

The incidents started at about 12:11 p.m. yesterday when a student in the Jennings County High School cafeteria received an air dropped message via their iPhone, with the sender identified as “There’s a bomb at JCHS.” The attached image was a photo of two people sitting on a couch.

The student reported the suspicious message to school staff and the school resource officer, leading to the school being locked down and law enforcement from many agencies being brought to the scene.

Sergeant Isaac Barkes, spokesman for the North Vernon Police Department, explains late yesterday afternoon that the response included Homeland security, Jennings County Sheriff’s Department, Indiana State Police, Indiana Excise Police, Indiana Conservation officers as well as North Vernon police:

The students and staff were evacuated to the middle school. Homeland security brought a police dog to the scene, trained to detect explosives.

But while that search was going on, another air drop was made inside of Jennings County Middle School showing a photo of the gun. That led to a search of the middle school.

No guns, explosives or weapons were found at either school.

High school students were sent back to the building before being released to their parents or to school buses.

Both high school and middle school students are having a virtual learning day today, while elementary school students are in class in person as normal.

Nature hike set for Driftwood River on Feb. 4th

Ivy Tech Community College Columbus biology professors are continuing their series of nature hikes to educate residents about their natural environment.

The next hike will be Saturday, Feb. 4th, along the Driftwood River near Edinburgh. Ivy Tech Columbus faculty member Dr. Tom Sobat will lead the hike, focusing on winter wonders of the area.

Hikers will meet at 10 a.m. in the morning in the first paved parking area at the Driftwood State Fishing Area. That’s at 8825 S. U.S. 31, near Edinburgh.

If you are planning to take part and have binoculars, you should bring them. The college will have some sets on hand you can use.

The hike is open to the public, and you are invited to attend. You should dress appropriately for the outdoors and the weather.

For more information, email

Host country sought for this fall’s Ethnic Expo

Organizers of Ethnic Expo in downtown Columbus are looking for a host country for this year’s event.

Organizers are asking that all potential Host Country candidates submit a proposal. The proposals will be reviewed by the Ethnic Expo Selection Committee before the 2023 Host country is chosen.

The two-day festival, set for October 13th and 14th, celebrates the city’s diversity and rich cultural traditions. The festival, held around Columbus City Hall, is family-friendly and features live performances of international music and dancing, authentic cuisine and bazaar market vendors, along with free children’s activities.

Ethnic Expo is organized by the City of Columbus and is made possible by donations from the presenting sponsor, First Financial Bank, and other sponsors including Coca-Cola and ERMCO Electric.

The deadline to submit an application for Host Country is February 28th. The application can be found under the “Get Involved” tab at

For more information, you can call 812-669-5302.

Windy afternoon expected around the area

The National Weather Service is warning of strong winds possible this afternoon.

The weather service says that a strong area of low pressure moving through the Great Lakes will create a strong pressure gradient across Central Indiana this afternoon, causing gusty winds.

The weather service office in Louisville says that southwest winds of 15 to 20 mph are expected with gusts up to 40 mph possible in southern Indiana and 35 mph gusts in central part of the state. Even higher speed isolated gusts are also possible.

The weather service says the winds could blow around unsecured objects in your yard. Tree limbs could also blow down and there could be a few power outages.

Light is also possible this afternoon

A wind advisory is in effect from noon to 7 today for southern Indiana.

Immunization coalition bringing clinic to Columbus Feb. 11th

The Bartholomew County Health Department is announcing that the Indiana Immunization Coalition will be holding a community immunization clinic at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Columbus next month.

You should bring your insurance card as the coalition will accept and bill all insurance carriers. There is no cost for anyone without insurance, except for the Shingles vaccine.

Everyone who takes part will be vaccinated with all of the CDC recommended vaccines. The clinic will consult the state immunization registry to see what vaccines you are missing. If you would like to attend, but want to decline a specific vaccine, you can call 317-628-7116.

You can register online at and use the enrollment code IN 65942.

The church is at 2651 California Street in Columbus and the clinic will be from 9 to 12 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11th.

Our Hospice gala returning to Jennings County

Our Hospice of South Central Indiana is announcing its 25th annual Jennings County Gala, coming up on Saturday, Feb. 4th at the Barn at Willow Lake.

The event, themed A Starry, Starry Night will be held live after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19.

This year’s Gala features dinner catered by First Class Catering, cash-bar by Las Chalupas, a silent and live auction led by Tom Lawson, crowning of the 25th Jennings County Our Hospice Gala Queen, and music provided by Jeff and Bryce Downs.

This is the Hospice’s largest annual Jennings County fundraiser. It supports the patients and families cared for by the staff in Jennings County. Fundraising activities surrounding the event include the gala queen contest, where the largest fundraiser among the participating Jennings County High School students will be crowned the winner.

You can bid on auction items online or at the event. Prizes include a $800 gift card at the Secret Hideaway in Gatlinburg, TN, Four Cincinnati Reds dugout box seats, and a stay at the West Baden Springs Hotel in French Lick along with other items.

Tickets are $60 each or $450 for a table of eight. Tickets must be purchased in advance and will not be sold at the door. The event starts at 6 p.m. on Saturday Feb. 4th.

You can get more information or make a donation online at

Photo: Jennings Gala Queen 2021 Kylee Boardman and 2022 Queen Jena Morgan. Submitted photo.

Groundhog to return to Hope for annual forecast

The Town of Hope will be continuing an annual tradition with Groundhog Day festivities next week on the town square.

Local weather prognosticator, the groundhog “Hope” is almost three years old and this is her third year being the centerpiece of the area Groundhog Day festivities. She is a resident of Utopia Wildlife Rehabilitators.

Music and other celebrations will start at 8 a.m. in the morning on Thursday, Feb. 2nd. Hope will be making her prediction near the bandstand at 8:30 a.m. and will be available for photos afterwards.

After the prediction, food and warm drinks will be available at Willow LeaVes on the north side of the square.

The organizers of the event are Main Street of Hope and the town of Hope.

Three dead in Jennings County house fire

Three people have died in a house fire in Jennings County.

According to the Jennings County Sheriff’s Department, deputies were called to the scene of a fully involved house fire in northern Columbia Township at about 5:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. Three fatalities were confirmed in the blaze.

Shortly after deputies and firefighters arrived, investigators with the sheriff’s department contacted the Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office to lead the investigation into the cause of the fire.

Additional information will be released as it become available.

Columbus fire captain retires after 35 years.

Capt. Tim Hughes. Photo courtesy of Columbus Fire Department.

A Columbus firefighter is retiring after 35 years with the department.

Capt. Tim Hughes joined the Columbus Fire Department in 1987. He is retiring from his current assignment as the Battalion C Captain at Fire Station No. 2.

Hughes is a 2016 graduate of the Company Officer Development Institute and obtained a Degree in Nursing during his career as a Columbus Firefighter. Hughes earned certifications as a Paramedic Emergency Medical Technician, Hazardous Materials Technician, Fire Officer and Fire Instructor.

Hughes retirement was Wednesday.

Trump defends Pence after classified documents discovery

Former President Donald Trump is defending his former Vice President Mike Pence after it was revealed that classified documents were found at Pence’s Carmel, Indiana home.

In a post on his Truth Social platform, Trump wrote that Pence, a Columbus native, is an innocent man who has never done “anything knowingly dishonest in his life.” The Department of Justice and FBI have launched a probe into how the documents wound up at Pence’s home.

Former Presidents Clinton, Obama and both Bushes have no classified documents from their times in office. That’s according to representatives for each former President who told CNN they returned any such documents when they left office. The representatives said no searches of their homes and offices are being conducted.

Special counsels for the Department of Justice are currently investigating documents found at the residencies of President Biden and former President Trump.